President Donald Trump's overseas trip was a "hit" – both for pressing NATO countries to pay more their defense, and for assuring Saudis that America stands with them against "aggression from Iran," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Newsmax TV.
Cornyn said German Chancellor Angela Merkel's response to Trump's criticism of NATO was "understandable," he told Tuesday's "The Joe Pags Show."
"They've been taking advantage of the fact that the United States has been providing the umbrella protection for years at NATO," he said. "They haven't lived up to their responsibility to pay their fair share.
"NATO has been helpful, but it's primarily been helpful to countries in Europe in order to be a counterweight to Russian aggression," he added. "I remember a wise person once told me that [Russia President Vladimir] Putin understands two things: He understand strength, and he understands weakness.
"We saw how he responded during the Obama administration when he sensed weakness, and I think you've seen something very different now, and it's long overdue."
He also said the warm welcome given Trump in Saudi Arabia reflects the assurances they feel they have not previously gotten from the United States.
"It felt like we have not stood with them against Iranian aggression, certainly in Syria and in Israel and elsewhere where Hezbollah and Hamas have been killing innocent people," he said. "So, I think they saw this as a bulwark against Shiite aggression from Iran, and they welcome the support and responded appropriately, I thought."
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Cornyn also told Newsmax TV he expects a fight over the Trump administration budget and its increases to military spending at the expense of domestic program funding.
"There's going to be a fight because [Democrats] want to increase non-defense spending," he said. "They simply don't view this as the priority that I do. . . .
"We're going to have a fight, but everything in Washington is a fight these days. It's a fight worth having."
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