Trump reportedly handed Angela Merkel a $374 billion bill to cover military defense costs.


Trump reportedly gave Merkel a fake $374 billion invoice for NATO defense

In a bizarre stunt, President Trump reportedly handed German Chancellor Angela Merkel an invoice for more than $374 billion to cover military defense costs when they met in Washington last week. U.K. newspaper the Sunday Times reports the bill was meant to illustrate the amount, in Trump’s own estimation, that Germany has failed to spend on defense under a NATO agreement.

Trump, who has long complained about allies supposedly relying on U.S. military strength, was apparently upset that Germany, like most NATO countries, isn’t spending the amount it pledged to spend on defense. But suggesting that Germany “owes money” to NATO is misleading. Trump was reportedly referring to a pledge made by NATO states to spend 2 percent of their GDP on their own defense budgets. This money wouldn’t be paid to NATO but spent on Germany’s own defense. Only five of the 28 member states currently meet the 2 percent goal.

According to the Sunday Times, Trump’s fake invoice dated all the way back to 2002, when, according to Trump, Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schröder said he’d spend more on defense. Trump’s aides reportedly calculated how much German defense spending fell below 2 percent over the past 12 years, then tacked on interest.

Why it’s not normal:

It’s hard to know where to begin here. Sitting presidents don’t usually employ weird stunts that don’t make sense in order to intimidate leaders of countries the U.S. likes into spending more on defense. A German minister quoted in the Sunday Times called the bill “outrageous.”