“I hope the vice president and the secretary of state can somehow repair the damage,” McConnell said Wednesday.
By Associated Press
Severe condemnation of Trump’s failure to deter Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s assault on the Kurds, and his subsequent embrace of Turkish talking points about the former U.S. allies, sparked bipartisan outrage in the U.S. and calls for swift punishment for the NATO ally.
Republicans and Democrats in the House, bitterly divided over the Trump impeachment inquiry, banded together for an overwhelming 354-60 denunciation of the U.S. troop withdrawal.
Many lawmakers expressed worry that the withdrawal may lead to revival of ISIS as well as Russian presence and influence in the area — in addition to the slaughter of many Kurds.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., publicly broke with Trump to call the U.S. relationship with the Kurds “a great alliance.”
“I’m sorry that we are where we are. I hope the vice president and the secretary of state can somehow repair the damage,” McConnell said Wednesday.
The withdrawal is the worst decision of Trump’s presidency, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who meets often with the president and is one of his strongest and most important supporters in Congress.
“To those who think the Mideast doesn’t matter to America, remember 9/11 — we had that same attitude on 9/10/2001,” Graham said.
In public appearances, Trump said he was fulfilling a campaign promise to bring U.S. troops home from “endless wars” in the Middle East — casting aside criticism that a sudden U.S. withdrawal from Syria betrays the Kurdish fighters, stains U.S. credibility around the world and opens an important region to Russia.
“We have a situation where Turkey is taking land from Syria. Syria’s not happy about it. Let them work it out,” Trump said. “They have a problem at a border. It’s not our border. We shouldn’t be losing lives over it.”
After the House voted to condemn the withdrawal, congressional leaders of both parties went to the White house for a briefing, which grew contentious, with Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trading jabs. The Democrats said they walked out when the meeting devolved into an insult-fest.
“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters, saying Trump appeared visibly “shaken up” over the House vote.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York criticized Trump for not having an adequate plan to deal with IS fighters who have been held by the Kurds. He said the meeting “was not a dialogue, this was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts.”
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham called Pelosi’s action “baffling but not surprising.” She said the speaker “had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues.”