Mitch McConnell denounces Trump’s threat to violate Nato treaty after initially dodging questions

By Isaac M February 14, 2024

Senator Mitch McConnell has found his voice and denounced Donald Trump’s threat to violate the Nato treaty after initially refusing to comment on the matter over the weekend.

The Republican Senate minority leader was quoted by Punchbowl News condemning Mr Trump’s remarks in an interview set to be published in part on Tuesday evening.

Mr Trump made waves — and not the good kind — across Washington and the world over the weekend after telling supporters at a rally in Conway, South Carolina, that he had told an unidentified foreign leader that the US would allow Russia to attack a Nato member-state if the country in question was not making its own sufficient contributions to regional defences. Such a move would be a direct violation of the cornerstone of Nato’s founding agreement: Article 5, which stipulates that all Nato members will view an attack on one member-state as an attack against the entire alliance.

He was accused by many, including his last remaining prominent primary challenger, Nikki Haley, of giving a “green light” to Vladimir Putin for military action against other European nations.

“I totally disagree with him. And it was extremely unhelpful,” Mr McConnell said of the former president’s remarks.

It was a break from the former president that came as Mr McConnell has struggled with keeping the Senate GOP independent from the whims of the former president. In the past few weeks, he reluctantly joined in his caucus’s effort to kill a bipartisan compromise on immigration and border security after encouraging those efforts in the first place.

There were other signs of Mr McConnell showing resistance to his party’s right wing this week as well.

Early on Tuesday morning the Senate moved, with some Republican support, to pass supplemental funding legislation for aid to Ukraine and Israel, something Mr McConnell has now joined in pressuring the House to bring up for a vote. Speaker Mike Johnson and other Trump loyalists have vowed to block that legislation until border security is addressed as well, but their position seems to be weakening after the bipartisan compromise framework was rejected.

“We’ve heard all kinds of rumors about whether the House supports Ukraine or doesn’t,” Mr McConnell told Politico in an interview on Tuesday, aiming clear jabs at Mr Johnson. “It seems to me that the easy way to solve that would be to vote. And I hope the speaker will find a way to allow the House to work its will on the issue of Ukraine aid and the other parts of the bill as well.”

Still, Mr McConnell’s grip on the Senate GOP is loosening. Several of his own members flocked to defend Mr Trump in the wake of his Nato comments, or to suggest confusingly that Mr Trump had simply not meant them.

“Donald Trump was president, and he didn’t pull us out of Nato,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio told CNN on Sunday, adding that he had “zero concern” about Mr Trump’s latest controversial vow.


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