Democrats storm out of meeting with Trump about Syria
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump found himself increasingly isolated Wednesday as members of his own party decried the withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria — a move that cleared the way for a Turkish invasion — and top administration officials set off for an uncertain diplomatic mission to Ankara to negotiate a cease-fire.
Democratic leaders stormed out of a White House meeting intended to craft a joint response to the international crisis following what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DSan Francisco, called “a meltdown” by the president that included insulting Pelosi as “a third-rate politician,” according to other Democratic leaders in the room.
“This was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe. A nasty diatribe,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
The meeting was Trump’s first face-to-face engagement with top Democrats since Pelosi launched an impeachment inquiry last month, though the speaker said impeachment was not discussed. The abrupt ending to the meeting suggested even an international crisis will not be enough to prompt cooperation between Trump and the Democratic-led House.
Earlier in the day, even as Republicans joined in a House resolution condemning Trump’s withdrawal, the president offered a glib assessment of the United States’ onetime allies in the region, the Kurds, who are facing atrocities and the loss of limited autonomy that American troops had helped secure before Trump ordered the hasty withdrawal earlier this month.
“They’re no angels,” Trump said while meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the White House.
“It’s not our border,” he added. “They’ve got a lot of sand over there. There’s a lot of sand they can play with.” He also asserted that the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, was worse than Islamic State militants.
Other American leaders disagreed, fearing a cascade of consequences from the withdrawal, including threats to remaining U.S. soldiers’ safety, the loss of American credibility in the region, an emboldened Russia and the escape of Islamic State militants in the chaos, which has already begun.
“I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has been a close ally of Trump’s. “I fear this is a complete and utter national security disaster in the making and I hope President Trump will adjust his thinking.”