Biden Denounces Trump’s Comments on Russia and NATO as ‘Un-American’
President Biden denounced former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday for encouraging Russia to attack certain NATO allies, calling the comments “dumb,” “shameful,” “dangerous” and “un-American” as he implored House Republicans to defy their putative nominee and pass new security aid for Ukraine and Israel.
In a televised statement, Mr. Biden said a $95 billion spending package that the Senate passed earlier in the day on a bipartisan vote was imperative to help defeat the “vicious onslaught” of President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia against Ukraine. And he linked the legislative debate to Mr. Trump’s campaign speech siding with Moscow over European allies that he deemed “delinquent.”
“Can you imagine?” Mr. Biden told reporters at the White House. “A former president of the United States saying that? The whole world heard it. And the worst thing is he means it. No other president in our history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator. Let me say this as clearly as I can — I never will. For God’s sake, it’s dumb, it’s shameful, it’s dangerous, it’s un-American.”
Mr. Trump, who has long expressed admiration for Mr. Putin and derision for NATO and Ukraine, boasted at a campaign rally over the weekend that he had warned NATO allies that did not spend enough on their own militaries that he would not come to their defense if Russia attacked them. That would effectively render toothless Article 5 of the alliance’s charter, which requires members to aid one another in the event of an outside attack. But not only would he not help the allies, Mr. Trump added that he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” against them.
The former president’s stunning comments favoring a longtime foe over longtime friends have inflamed the debate on Capitol Hill over renewing military aid for Ukraine, which has been stalled for months even as troops there run short of ammunition and struggle to recapture territory seized by Russian forces.
The Senate finally passed the $95 billion security aid package early Tuesday on a 70-to-29 vote, with 22 Republicans joining nearly all Democrats in supporting the financing. The package includes $60.1 billion for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel, $9.2 billion for humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza, Ukraine and other conflict zones, and $4.8 billion for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies concerned about an aggressive China.
Speaker Mike Johnson, however, vowed not to allow a vote on the House floor without including hard-line policies cracking down on illegal immigration. “In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters,” he said on Monday night.
But Mr. Johnson, under pressure from Mr. Trump, who said he did not want to give Mr. Biden the political win, has already rejected including a bipartisan border compromise negotiated by a conservative Republican senator with Democratic and independent counterparts. The likelihood of agreement on an even tougher package that would be acceptable to both Mr. Trump and enough Democrats to pass the Senate seems implausible if not impossible.
As a result, the aid to Ukraine and Israel remains hostage to a domestic policy dispute without easy resolution. Military aid previously approved for Ukraine as it seeks to expel Russian invaders from its eastern territories has already run out, while Israel needs replenishment after four months of military operations in response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas.
Mr. Johnson last week tried to pass a bill providing just the Israel aid, only to fall short of the two-thirds vote he needed for the parliamentary maneuver amid a veto threat by Mr. Biden, who objected to separating the package and leaving Ukraine out.
Democrats can try to bypass Mr. Johnson and move the security package to the floor if they can rally enough Republicans to come up with 218 signatures on a so-called discharge petition, but it is a cumbersome, uphill process that takes time and only rarely works.
Mr. Biden dared Mr. Johnson to allow a floor vote, arguing that there is a clear majority in the House for it despite the speaker and the hard-line Freedom Caucus.
“We can’t walk away now,” the president said. “That’s what Putin’s betting on. He just flatly said that. Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin. Opposing it is playing into Putin’s hands.”
Mr. Biden added that Republicans who stood in the way would ultimately be held accountable, repeating his recent line that “history is watching.” He framed the issue as a choice between freedom and autocracy.
“Are you going to stand with Ukraine or are you going to stand with Putin?” he asked. “Are you going to stand with America or Trump?”