On Wednesday, President Donald Trump declared victory in Syria and announced plans to withdraw U.S. troops which had been protecting civilians from incursions by Russian and Turkish troops and ISIS fighters.
While Trump has declared his mission accomplished, a retired general who fought ISIS in neighboring Iraq said there’s no truth to that claim.
Gen. Mark Hertling went on CNN Wednesday and said that the plan made no sense and appears to be “transactional” arrangement with Russia and the Turks.
“The Pentagon puts the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria at 30,000,” said CNN anchor Jim Sciutto “How can the president claim today that ISIS is defeated in Syria?”
“He can’t, truthfully,” said Hertling. “This was very surprising to me—not only the announcement but the timing. I don’t understand why it is happening now. The U.S. Forces have just started an offensive with the Syrian defense forces and the Kurds against the town of Hajin, which is considered an ISIS stronghold… You’re talking about making both the Russians, the Syrian Bashar Al Assad, the Iranians and the Turks very happy about this move because the Kurdish forces are going to see this as us turning against them one more time.”
Hertling said that the only argument that makes sense to him is that this is a transaction between Trump and foreign powers.
“What is interesting that has not been brought up yet is there seems to be a transactional element to this, too,” he said. “Over the last days the U.S. Has sealed the deal with Turkey for $3.5 billion worth of Patriot missile systems that were signed yesterday by our State Department. I’m sure that played a role, a little bit, in this.”
Reporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, who has reported extensively in the area, said that people in the area have been “working so hard to push forward” and that the United States is “so little attuned to what is going on outside our borders that a real story of forward momentum, of progress in the right direction among fragility has been lost.”
“One hairdresser I interviewed in April, visited in August, and I saw this weekend, was talking about how she saved up enough money to open up her own shop and she said ‘all we want is for continued security and stability because the extremists want to come back and we don’t want them,'” she said. “I think few of us have appreciated how many gains have been made.”
“So let me get this straight,” said anchor Sciutto. “This serves Russian interests. It serves Iranian interests. It takes the heat off of ISIS and does a favor for Turkey. How does it serve U.S. interests?”
“It doesn’t serve U.S. interests,” the general said. “You have to make these advances over time. Last week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said we are going to be there for a while. The Secretary of Defense said, on I think last Thursday, that he was thinking about border patrols between Turkey and the Kurdish region. None of this makes sense, and it doesn’t serve either our long term or short term interest in bringing peace to the region and stopping the kind of immigration that we have seen with people running away from these multiple threats of Russia, Iranian and Syria offenses.”
CNN’s Cuomo demolishes Rudy Giuliani’s conspiracy theory about Biden and Ukraine
Last week, CNN's Chris Cuomo played host to President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who went off on a half-intelligible rant about former Vice President Joe Biden and tried to paint him as corrupt for fighting to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor.
"For us it's about whether or not people in power are telling you the truth, and Rudy Giuliani was not telling you the truth on things that matter," said Cuomo. "So we wanted to check the holes in the president's theory several times on this show. It's not just about the Biden family, it about other things that Rudy Giuliani's calling out and we went to the source."
Trump’s Ukraine stunt was just the beginning — he will do whatever it takes to poison the 2020 election
On Monday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," New York Times political editor Patrick Healy dropped an ominous warning about President Donald Trump's push for Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden: Trump is going to keep doing this, no matter the circumstance and no matter the Democratic nominee, in his desperation to win re-election.
"The reality is, President Trump has been spreading this what looks like pretty clear misinformation for a while now in terms of these unsubstantiated allegations about Joe Biden," said Healy. "And the reality is, this is how President Trump plans to run his re-election campaign, whether it's Joe Biden or frankly any other Democrat who comes out."
An ‘obvious quid pro quo’ the American people must punish: CNN’s Toobin goes off on Trump’s Ukraine plot
On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin broke down the "obvious" quid pro quo demand in President Donald Trump's attempt to pressure Ukraine into hunting for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
"What do you think, Jeffrey?" asked host Wolf Blitzer. "Does it sound like the president tied that military aid to his request to investigate the Bidens?"
"Of course. Of course," said Toobin. "The only reason the Ukrainian president is interested in talking to the president is because he wants this aid. And the president says, as he's acknowledging, go and investigate Biden. This is an obvious quid pro quo, and it's a quid pro quo not for the benefit of the American people, not for the benefit of our national interests — it's a quid pro quo to help Donald Trump get reelected."