Trump reiterates NATO criticisms after Russia's invasion in Ukraine and says that "vote counters" are more important than candidates.

In remarks Saturday night to top Republican National Committee donors, Donald Trump reiterated his criticisms of NATO and hinted at another run for the White House.

Trump reiterates NATO criticisms after Russia's invasion in Ukraine and says that "vote counters" are more important than candidates.

He also suggested that the "vote-counter" is sometimes more important than the candidate in elections.

Trump's comments came 24 hours after former Vice-President Mike Pence took several shots in the face of Trump at the same donor retreat that is being held in New Orleans.

Pence informed them Friday night that there was no place in the party for "apologists for Putin." This came days after Trump had called Putin "smart" or "savvy" and referred to him as smart. According to a source, Trump said that someone called him a Putin apologist on Saturday night, but didn't mention Pence.

Pence did defend NATO, but Trump's remarks showed that he still has reservations about the alliance. According to a source, Trump dismissed it as a "paper Tiger."

"Are all these nations going to watch as millions of people are killed in the ongoing onslaught?" According to a source, Trump stated these words. According to a source, Trump said, "At what point can countries say, No, we cannot take this massive crime against mankind?' It can't continue to happen. It can't continue."

To avoid an escalation in the conflict, NATO allies and the U.S. have not agreed to send troops to Ukraine, but they have provided funding, military equipment and diplomatic support. Due to Russia's invasion, the U.S. and European nations have also issued severe sanctions.

Trump made a joke about the conflict too. He told donors that the U.S. should "put the Chinese flag on F-22 fighter jets" and "bomb Russia's s ***"."

According to the source, he said "And then, we say, China did that." To laughter in the room. "Then they start fighting each other and we just sit back and observe." The Washington Post first reported Trump’s comments on Russia and China.

Trump criticized President Biden for his handling of Russia and attacked him for being open about the actions that the U.S. would take to stop Putin's invasion in Ukraine.

"We must have Biden stop saying -- and this is for everybody to hear -- that we won't attack Russia ever because they have a nuclear weapon, right?" According to a source, Trump stated these words. "You know who's saying this? It doesn't matter if it's fiction or fact, we won't attack Russia. They are a nuclear power, you see. We are grateful for your kind words."

In his Friday address, Pence warned party leaders that dwelling on the 2020 election could damage its future prospects. He said that the Republican Party cannot win "by fighting yesterday's wars, or by relitigating history." Pence contrasted starkly with Trump, who is known for making baseless claims about the election's rigging but rarely speaks out publicly. He did so again Saturday. Trump learned this lesson from 2020:

He said that "the vote counter is oftentimes greater than the candidate" shortly after falsely claiming that he had won "two presidential election".

Trump is still very popular within many Republican Party circles. According to a recent CBS News poll, 59 percent of Republicans want Trump to run again for president in 2024. He has also been ruminating that he will run again.

According to a source, Trump stated that a Republican president would reclaim the White House in 2024. "I wonder who this might be."

According to a source, the comment provoked some "Trump!" chants among the crowd.

Trump still finds Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell irritating and has been unsuccessfully trying to find a GOP senator who can replace him as Republican leader. According to a source, Trump called him "stupid and corrupt Mitch McConnell" on Saturday. This elicited some applause.

Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax, just as he did in the past. He also joked about how rising sea levels would lead to more waterfront property. New Orleans hosted the donor event just weeks after federal officials had warned Louisiana that coastal water levels could rise by one foot and a quarter by 2050.

He also spoke briefly about the North Carolina Senate GOP Primary. Trump endorsed Ted Budd, and said to donors that Republicans must get ex-Representative Mark Walker "outof that race," according to a source. Walker applied for the Senate race last week, defying Trump and his wishes to run for a fourth term in Congress.

Pence's and Trump's appearances at back-to-back events could provide a glimpse of what might be in 2024, if either man decides to run for the presidency. Last week at , a private CPAC conference, Trump answered a question regarding a 2024 presidential bid and said that he was "very happy" to answer. He also stated that he didn't know who he wanted as their VP.

Pence has been openly expressing his disapproval with Trump lately. He said last month that "HTM0_ Trump is wrong " because he claimed Pence had the authority overturn the presidential election. He also said that he does not know if he and Trump "HTM1_ will ever see eye to eye " regarding the attack on the Capitol on January 6.


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