In a bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives rebuked President Trump for his stand-down order in Syria. The resolution, which passed overwhelmingly, “calls on the United States to work to ensure that the Turkish military acts with restraint and respects existing agreements relating to Syria” and asks the “White House to present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
The resolution passed easily with strong support from Republicans in addition to unanimous support from Democrats. The final tally was 354-60 with 129 Republicans crossing the aisle to criticize Mr. Trump’s actions.
The vote in the House was followed by a White House meeting between a Democratic delegation and the Trump Administration that quickly devolved into a shouting match per Associated Press reports. The reports coming out of the meeting tell of bizarre behavior on the part of President Trump.
The meeting reportedly began with the president bragging about a letter that he wrote to Turkish President Erdogan. The letter, which has been released to the public, is dated Oct. 9, three days after Mr. Trump reportedly gave Erdogan the green light to invade Syria and agreed to pull back US forces in the region.
The letter is another example of a release that the White House thinks will make the president look good but actually makes him look even worse. While President Trump takes a tough tack in the letter, probably in response to almost universal condemnation, the letter comes across as very juvenile with the president telling Erdogan, “Let’s make a good deal!” Trump also tells the Turkish leader that history “will look upon you as a devil if good things don’t happen” and not to “be a tough guy.” Trump closes by saying, “I will call you later.”
Turkish sources say that Erdogan threw the letter into the trash.
The discussion of the letter was followed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reading a quote from former Defense Secretary James Mattis on the need to keep American troops in Syria. Trump responded that Mattis was the “world’s most overrated general.”
"You know why? He wasn’t tough enough," Trump reportedly said. "I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month."
Mattis has recently warned that ISIS has not been totally destroyed and that the terrorist group could be reconstituted if the US withdraws from Syria.
"ISIS is not defeated," Mattis told NBC on Sunday. "We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don't recover."
When Trump was asked about the possibility that ISIS could revive, Trump answered that the ISIS prisoners released by Turkish militias numbered "fewer than 100" and were the “least dangerous” ISIS prisoners. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper undercut this claim, saying that he did not know if the prisoners were the least dangerous. Other reports have put the number of escaped ISIS prisoners in the hundreds, but no one really knows for sure how many of the estimated 10,000 ISIS fighters have escaped, Defense One reports.
The meeting then devolved into a tit-for-tat between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the president. Pelosi reportedly told the president that Russia had always wanted a “foothold in the Middle East” and that his policy was giving them what they wanted. The speaker said, “All roads with you lead to Putin” and then things got worse.
Trump told Pelosi, “I hate ISIS more than you do.”
Pelosi answered, “You don’t know that.”
Schumer interrupted to ask, “Is your plan to rely on the Syrians and the Turks?”
Trump replied, “Our plan is to keep the American people safe.”
Pelosi responded, “That’s not a plan. That’s a goal.”
Trump then reportedly deflected to President Obama’s “red line” in Syria from 2013 and called Pelosi a “third-rate [or possibly ‘third-grade’] politician.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) interjected, “This is not useful.” At that point, Pelosi and Hoyer got up to walk out.
As they left, Trump delivered a parting shot, saying, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.”
Few Republicans at the meeting have spoken out, but White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham disputed the reports, telling Fox News, “The President was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi's decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising. She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spoke to reporters after the meeting, saying, “I see a pattern of behavior with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She storms out of another meeting, trying to make it unproductive. The other Democrats stayed and actually had a very productive meeting.
President Trump tweeted out a series of pictures and comments detailing the meeting, including one that has already become famous, which depicts Speaker Pelosi lecturing the president. Trump captioned the photo, “Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown!”
In another tweet, Trump said that Pelosi had a “total meltdown” and asked his followers to “pray for her, she is a very sick person!”
Trump’s tweets apparently were posted after the president watched Democratic comments after the meeting. At the Capitol after the meeting, Pelosi told reporters, “I pray for the president all the time, and I tell him that -- I pray for his safety and that of his family. Now, we have to pray for his health -- because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”
While most of the details of the meeting have come from Democratic sources and are quite likely shaded to make themselves look good and Trump look bad, many of the claims ring true. The president’s Twitter feed includes tweets attacking Barack Obama’s Syria policy and charging that Democrats liked the idea of ending wars and bringing troops home “until I took it.” The US troops are still in Syria, however, and Trump has announced plans to deploy even more Americans to Saudi Arabia. As Erick Erickson pointed out this morning, Trump has both denied giving Turkey a green light to invade and said the opposing sides should “fight it out.”
While it is entirely possible that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats trolled President Trump and badgered him into getting angry so they could stage a walkout and make him look deranged, the president apparently walked into their trap. Let’s face it: Making President Trump look deranged is not difficult these days. His own words do the job pretty well.
Originally published on The Resurgent