As we noted earlier, when Trump defended his decision abandon Kurdish allies in Syria by saying that they didn’t help the US during World War II.
“They didn’t help us with Normandy as an example,” Trump told reporters.
Kurdish forces, did, however, fight alongside the US against Isis for nearly five years, losing roughly 11,000 fighters.
On Sunday, the president announced that US troops would withdraw from the region, and today, Turkey has launched an offensive into north-eastern Syria against Kurdish forces who control the region.
Trump said he learned that the Kurds didn’t help in Normandy from a “very, very powerful article”, and seemed to be referencing a column by conservative opinion writer Kurt Schlichter.
Misrepresenting how Nato works, Trump told reporters: “If you look at how much money we spend on NATO and how much countries from Europe who are a much bigger beneficiary than we are.”
“Alliances are very easy. But our alliances have taken advantage of us,” Trump said.
“We have spent a tremendous amount of money helping the Kurds,” the president said. “They’re fighting for their land. When you say they’re fighting with the US, yes. But they’re fighting for their land.”
“With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,” Trump added.
Trump told reporters he’ll cooperate with the House democrats’ impeachment inquiry if “they give us our rights”.
Asked whether he’ll cooperate with the democrats if they hold a vote on the impeachment inquiry, Trump responded: “The Republican Party and president has been treated extremely badly by the Democrats, very unfairly, because they have a tiny margin in the House, they have eviscerated the rules, they don’t give us any fair play, it is the most unfair situation people have seen, no lawyers, you can’t have lawyers, you can’t speak, you can’t do anything.”
But does the president have the right to due process during an impeachment?
In a word: No.
The Constitution states clearly that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment,” and that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
What “impeachment” means in this context is, effectively, indictment — the House has the power to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to spur a trial that would then take place in the Senate.
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will be taking over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- The Justice Department announced the arrest of an employee at the Defense Intelligence Agency for allegedly leaking sensitive national security information to two journalists.
- For the first time, Joe Biden called for the impeachment of Trump over the Ukraine controversy.
- Trump defended his decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria as Turkey launched a military operation in the region. (The president also flippantly said he was not worried about the potential escape of Islamic State fighters because they would likely flee to Europe.)
- Despite that defensive stance, a number of Republican lawmakers criticized Trump’s Syria policy as news of the Turkish operation broke.
- House Democrats are reportedly planning a new wave of subpoenas as the White House made clear it would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.
Maanvi will have more on the news of the day, so stay tuned.
Democrats reportedly planning new wave of subpoenas
House Democrats are preparing a new wave of subpoenas as the White House has signaled it will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, according to CNN.
They are also considering a secret interview of the whistleblower who kicked off the Ukraine controversy.
In the face of the blistering White House letter refusing to cooperate with their probe, Democrats expect they are likely done with any voluntary interviews for most witnesses, according to multiple Democratic sources. And Democrats are now threatening subpoenas to associates of Rudy Giuliani and considering them for current State Department officials, including former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. She is scheduled for an interview Friday, but there are new concerns she won’t appear given that she is still a State Department employee and could face backlash internally if she were to appear voluntarily.
Negotiations are also intensifying over bringing in for an interview the whistleblower whose complaint has upended Trump’s presidency, with new discussions about holding the interview in secret or off site and not disclosing that it happened until after the fact, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
In response to a question about the threat facing America’s Kurdish allies now that Turkey had launched a military operation in northern Syria, Trump blamed them for not assisting in World War II.
Asked about Islamic State fighters potentially escaping amid Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, Trump told reporters he felt the United States had carried a disproportionate amount of responsibility in capturing the militants.
Trump said: “Well, they’re going to be escaping to Europe. That’s where they want to go; they want to go back to their homes, but Europe didn’t want them from us.”
The president said the relationship between the US and its European allies had not been “reciprocal” when it came to combating the Islamic State.
In response to Trump’s comments, a CNN reporter questioned whether the flippant remark about Islamic State militants returning to Europe, where the group has previously carried out terrorist attacks, would provoke any condemnation from Republican lawmakers.
Trump said he would cooperate with the impeachment inquiry if the full House votes on it and “if the rules are fair,” but he appeared to leave himself a lot of wiggle room on the issue.
Trump predicts Islamic State fighters will escape to Europe
When asked by reporters whether he was concerned that Islamic State fighters would be able to escape because of Turkey’s military operation, Trump predicted that the militants would not travel to the US.
The president said this to apparently reassure the American people (and surely terrify many US allies): “They’re going to be escaping to Europe.”
Trump also dismissed criticism from senator Lindsey Graham, one of his closest congressional allies, over the president’s decision to withdraw US troops from the region.
Trump said: “I think Lindsey would like to stay there for the next 200 years.”
Trump stands by his decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria
Speaking to reporters after signing two executive orders, Trump stood by his decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria even as Turkey launched a military operation in the region.
Asked how he would react if Turkish forces decimated America’s Kurdish allies in the region, Trump warned he would “wipe out” Turkey’s economy if they did so.
The British prime minister’s office released a readout from Boris Johnson’s conversation with Trump.
It reads, in part: “The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump this evening. The leaders expressed their serious concern at Turkey’s invasion of north east Syria and the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in the region. …
“On trade, the Prime Minister underlined his disappointment at the US announcement of tariffs against UK and EU exports in the Airbus-Boeing dispute, which will harm a number of industries including Scotch Whisky. He pressed the President not to impose the tariffs.”
Trump is now making remarks about two executive orders he is signing and noted that he had an “extended conversation” with the British prime minister, Boris Johnson.
Even as senator Lindsey Graham lambastes Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, he is standing by the president on confronting the impeachment inquiry.
Specifically, the Senate judiciary committee chairman is accusing House Democrats of abusing their power by not releasing a transcript from their closed-door interview with Kurt Volker, the former US ambassador to NATO.
Graham warned that he would call Volker to publicly testify if the transcript is not released soon.
Facebook is refusing to take down a Trump campaign ad that centers on false claims of corruption against Joe Biden.
CNN has already refused to air the ad over its factual inaccuracies, but Facebook wrote in a letter to the Biden campaign that the video did not violate the social media platform’s policies.
A Facebook executive wrote: “Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is.”
The social media giant’s decision provoked an enraged response from at least one of Biden’s primary opponents, Elizabeth Warren.