Top Democratic leaders slammed President Donald Trump after they walked out of a White House meeting on Syria that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described as a "meltdown" and with other leaders bashed Trump for calling her "a third-rate politician."
"We couldn't continue in the meeting," Pelosi told reporters outside the White House, "because he was just not relating to the reality of it."
She was referring to the overwhelmingly bipartisan House vote condemning Trump for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, which led to Turkey's assault on Kurdish forces in the region.
The vote was 354 to 60, with all the negative votes coming from Republicans.
"I think the size of the vote . . . probably got to the president, because he was shaken up by it," Pelosi said.
"We are proud of our men and women in uniform," she continued. "Those who have been in Syria have conducted themselves in a way that makes us all very proud — and I conveyed that to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs."
Pelosi noted the Democratic leaders "had some questions" about the Islamic State, after hundreds of ISIS prisoners escaped Syrian prisons Sunday, raising concerns about a resurgence in the terrorist group.
Attending the meeting with President Trump also were House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Md., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, N.Y.
The Democrats also said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was present.
Schumer said he asked President Trump "what his plan was to contain ISIS. He didn't really have one.
"He said the Turks and the Syrians will guard the ISIS prisoners," he continued. "I said: 'Is there any intelligence evidence that the Turks and the Syrians will have the same interests that the Kurds or we did in guarding ISIS?"
Schumer noted that Defense Secretary Mark Esper was in the meeting and "thank god, he was honest" in responding to his question.
"He said, 'We don't have that evidence,'" Schumer said.
After further questions about ISIS, Syria and Turkey, Schumer said, "They didn't have any good answer.
"This is appalling," he said. "The president had no plan... for containing ISIS other than relying on the Syrians and the Turks.
"Then, why did we spend a decade, billions of dollars and lost lives in trying to curtail ISIS if — on a phone call, on a whim — the president is going to undo all of that and turn this over to the Turks and the Syrians?"
Schumer then ripped the president for disrespecting Pelosi.
"He was insulting, particularly to the speaker," he said. "She kept her cool completely. But he called her a third-rate politician.
"He said that, 'There are communists involved and you guys might like that,'" Schumer added.
"This was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts."
Hoyer said that "we were offended deeply by his treatment of the speaker of the House of Representatives.
"The president has created a crisis in the Middle East," he added. "A crisis that undermines the world's confidence in America.
"This crisis required a rational, reasonable discussion between those of us elected by the American people to set policy.
"Unfortunately the meeting deteriorated into a diatribe — and with very offensive accusations being made by the president of the United States."
Noting that he has served with six presidents, Hoyer said that "never have I seen a president treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of the government of the United States."
In responding to reporters' questions, Pelosi described the meeting as a "meltdown, sad to say."
President Trump has been under withering attacks by Democrats and Republicans over his Syrian decision and the ensuing attacks by Turkey against the Kurds, who fought alongside United States forces to defeat ISIS.
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