Menendez says Trump’s Syria withdrawal makes Russians big winners

Menendez says Trump’s Syria withdrawal makes Russians big winners

By:  Jonathan D. Salant

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, who once suggested on the Senate floor that Donald Trump could be "an agent of the Russian government,” said Sunday that Moscow emerged as the big winner by the president’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and abandon America’s Kurdish allies.

“It’s a betrayal of our foreign policy to the Russians, who are the big winners of this,” Menendez, D-N.J., said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And that’s part of the problem here. All roads lead to Russia with the president. And every time that there is an issue or a conflict, it seems that Russia ends up winning.”

Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Trump’s withdrawal “a betrayal” of Israel, possibly giving Iran the ability to move weapons closer to the Jewish state to try to attack it.

And he said the action could threaten the United States because the Kurds were guarding 10,000 ISIS fighters who could now escape in the chaos.

“The president unleashed this disaster,” said Menendez, who attended the confrontational White House meeting with Trump that led to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walking out.

“When the president of the United States said that we shouldn’t worry about 7,000 miles away and those terrorists there, well, on September 11, they traveled over 7,000 miles and ultimately did the worst attack in our nation’s history."

Speaking on the same program, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria even as Turkey immediately launched an attack against the Kurds.

“The president believes we’ve accomplished a significant part of our mission and he wants our folks to come home, and we’re beginning to work on that,” Pompeo said. “The vice president and I traveled to Ankara after Turkey had made its decision against the president’s desire to make an incursion into Syria, and we put out a joint statement, which we think will really save lives. It’s worked so far. There’s much work to be done to continue to implement but we’re optimistic.”

Responded Menendez: “I think the secretary lives in a parallel alternate universe.”