President Obama recently told lawmakers that their criticism of his policy in Syria is “horse ****,” according to a report published late Monday.
A member of Congress told The Daily Beast Obama used the expletive during a July 31 meeting at the White House just before the August recess.
Another lawmaker also said that the president got visibly angry after both Democrats and Republicans questioned the administration’s policy.
Many lawmakers and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have urged Obama to arm Syrian rebels to push back at Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerA guide to the committees: Senate Republicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy GOP Congress unnerved by Trump bumps MORE (R-Tenn.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, attended the meeting and asked a long question in which he sharply criticized a series of U.S. foreign policies, one lawmaker said.
Obama responded by defending the administration’s approach in Syria, arguing that the idea that arming the rebels earlier would have produced a better outcome was “horse ****,” the lawmaker told The Daily Beast.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, arrived late to the meeting and caught part of Obama's defense of his policy. Engel said he heard Obama use more polite language.
“The president still feels very strongly that we are deluding ourselves if we think American intervention in Syria early on by assisting these rebels would have made a difference,” Engel told The Daily Beast. “He still believes that. I disagree, respectfully. They were not looking for U.S. troops, they were looking for help and the Syria Civil War started with the most noblest of causes.”
Clinton suggested in an interview with The Atlantic published Sunday that the administration might have been able to stop ISIS’s rise if the U.S. had more aggressively armed Syrian rebels in 2012.
Over the last year, the CIA reportedly began to arm the moderate opposition groups in Syria. In June, Obama proposed a $500 million package to train and equip them.
Obama told The New York Times in an interview published Friday that the idea that arming Syrian rebels would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy.”
“This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”