Former President Donald Trump sparked controversy by suggesting he’d encourage Russian aggression against NATO members who don’t meet defense spending targets. Speaking at a rally, Trump recounted a conversation where he implied non-compliant nations wouldn’t receive protection. His remarks coincide with GOP debates over aid to Ukraine and reflect his long-standing criticism of NATO.

Despite increased NATO funding efforts predating Trump’s tenure, he persists in questioning the alliance’s purpose. Experts refute Trump’s understanding of NATO’s obligations, emphasizing its role in safeguarding US interests and collective security.

Trump’s remarks drew condemnation, with critics highlighting the danger of undermining NATO and empowering hostile regimes. White House officials denounced his stance as reckless and detrimental to national security.

In South Carolina, where Trump faces Nikki Haley in the primary, he diverted from attacking her directly but mocked her deployed husband. Haley responded, challenging Trump to debate and defending her family’s service.

Amidst political theatrics, Haley’s camp launched a campaign highlighting Trump’s evasion and distributing mock mental competency tests. The clash underscores tensions within the GOP as Trump maintains a dominant position in the polls.