President Donald Trump "won an applause line at his rallies" with his decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria, but the United States didn't win anything, but instead now faces a "clear and present danger" from ISIS, Sen. Bob Menendez said Wednesday.
"There are 14,000 to 18,000 ISIS fighters still fighting in the region and particularly in Syria," the New Jersey Democrat told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "You still have another 10,000 that were detained by the Kurds."
However, if the Kurdish military forces have to defend themselves against Turkey, they won't be protecting and detaining the ISIS fighters, warned Menendez.
"If they get released now, you have a fighting core of nearly 30,000 ISIS fighters," he said. "That's a clear and present danger to the United States. That's a big loss."
On Tuesday, James Jeffrey, the U.S. envoy to Syria, testified that Trump did not consult him before withdrawing troops, Menendez noted.
"What we have is election politics and not national security being decided by the president," said Menendez. "It's a betrayal to the Kurds and our policy with Russia and a betrayal of the state of Israel, which faces the risk of Iran having a direct route to attack them. it's one of the worst national security blunders I have seen."
Trump's action is already having ripple effects in the Middle East, the senator added, and then there is the challenge that Turkey is changing under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including its former status as being a strong NATO ally.
"Turkey was sitting with Iran and Russia, going back to the meetings about the future of Syria," said Menendez. "Turkey has cast their lot increasingly with Russia and we shouldn't be worried about concern about pushing Turkey into Russia's arms."
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