Former President Donald Trump delivered an alarming message to U.S. allies throughout a Saturday rally the place he outlined a state of affairs through which he would “encourage” Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to different NATO members.

Chatting with a crowd in Conway, South Carolina, Trump told a story that solid himself as a tough-talking negotiator.

“NATO was busted until I came along,” he started. “I said, ‘Everybody’s going to pay.’ They said, ‘Well, if we don’t pay are you still going to protect us?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ They couldn’t believe the answer.”

He rehashed the story just a few moments later.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’ I said, ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want,” Trump stated.

“You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills,” he added.

The viewers cheered loudly for the previous president, who’s infamous for failing to pay payments on the campaign trail and in his past business endeavors.

It’s not clear whether or not the state of affairs Trump described really occurred. Trump incessantly takes credit score for supposedly pressuring different NATO members into contributing extra funding through the course of his first time period.

However it’s a flawed declare.

As The Washington Post and other fact-checkers have famous, NATO member nations pledged to spice up their funding over a interval of 10 years at a 2014 summit held to handle Russian aggression. Direct NATO funding has been growing since then — though not at the pace wanted to achieve the purpose set in 2014.

The alliance, nonetheless, is primarily strengthened via indirect funding, which is funding that member nations spend on their very own particular person militaries that may very well be referred to as upon to help the group if wanted. NATO’s Article 5 states that member nations should deal with an assault on one as an assault on all.

As of final 12 months, Trump wouldn’t have the facility as president to unilaterally withdraw the USA from NATO.

Whereas he has made varied feedback about probably doing so previously, Congress passed legislation in December barring any president from withdrawing the U.S. from the group with out congressional cooperation.

The transfer got here amid ongoing efforts by a far-right faction of Republicans to chop again or cease U.S. funding to Ukraine. The Japanese European nation, which is looking for NATO membership, has been keeping off a Russian takeover for almost two years.

On Saturday, Trump steered the $95 billion help package deal to Ukraine and Israel at present making its means via the Senate ought to as an alternative take the type of a mortgage. He efficiently pressured Republicans to kill a bigger help package deal that might additionally tackle U.S. immigration earlier this month.