Democrats storm out of meet­ing with Trump about Syria

Lodi News-Sentinel - - STATE/NATION - By Noah Bier­man and Sarah D. Wire

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.”

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