Brussels (CNN) American President Donald Trump capped off his tumultuous two-day visit at NATO headquarters on Thursday by boldly declaring that all NATO members agreed to increase their defense spending after he told them he was “extremely unhappy.”
His unscheduled news conference offered Trump’s signature touch for showmanship, but the US President came up empty when pressed to detail the new financial commitments he had secured, offering only that member countries “agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly” and pointing to spending increases over the last year.
“Everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment. They’re going to up it at levels that they never thought of before,” Trump said.
But French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday rejected Trump’s assertion.
“There was a communiqué released yesterday it was very detailed and I invite you to read it … It shows the measures approved by all the member states. This communiqué is clear, it reaffirms a commitment to 2% in 2024. That is all,” Macron said.
All NATO countries agreed in a 2014 summit to increase their defense spending to 2% of their GDP by 2024, and most NATO member countries have already laid out specific plans to meet that target. All NATO member countries pledged in the joint communique on Wednesday to continue their efforts to meet the 2% goal.
“I told people that I’d be very unhappy if they didn’t up their financial commitments substantially,” Trump said when asked if he threatened to pull out of the alliance. “I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have now substantially upped their commitment.”
Trump was asked specifically if he thought he could pull out of NATO without congressional approval and he said: “I think I probably can, but that is unnecessary. They have stepped up today like they have never stepped up before.”
Despite tweeting “what good is NATO” the day before, Trump praised the alliance on Thursday.
“I believe in NATO, I think NATO is a very important — probably the greatest ever done,” he said.
Trump also sought to claim a victory in his news conference on Wednesday, defending his the hard-nose tactics he displayed at the summit, which included accusing Germany of being “totally controlled” and “a captive of Russia.”
“I think it’s a very effective way to deal,” Trump said, before insisting that “everybody in that (NATO) room got along.”
Trump’s provocative comments about Germany and defense spending on Wednesday rattled allies during the summit’s first day. Some of the closest US allies were still reeling from Trump’s diatribe accusing Germany of being “a captive of Russia” and insistence that “delinquent” allies increase defense spending “immediately.”
But the President isn’t likely to face vocal or widespread hostility until later in the day on Thursday, when he heads to London, where mass protests have been organized, for his first visit to the United Kingdom as President.
Trump also pointed to progress over the last year, prior to this NATO summit, to tout his success at this year’s summit — something the US ambassador to NATO had previously touted in a conference call with reporters ahead of the summit.
“We took in $33 billion more,” Trump said, pointing to increased financial commitments.
Trump also insisted that “everybody in that room got along,” referring to NATO allies.
Before leaving for London, Trump participated in a pair of multilateral meetings focused on Russian aggression and the war in Afghanistan.
Trump arrived about a half-hour late to a North Atlantic Council meeting with Georgia and Ukraine, two countries who have both been invaded by Russia in the last decade.
Trump’s late arrival is not a first for him. He also left a mark at the G7 summit in Quebec last month when he arrived more than 15 minutes late for a breakfast meeting with other world leaders on women’s empowerment.