Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' during Syria meeting, top Democrats say

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE had a “meltdown” and called House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — California monitoring 8,400 people for coronavirus | Pence taps career official to coordinate response | Dems insist on guardrails for funding Overnight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain Hillicon Valley — Presented by Facebook — Federal court rules tech giants can censor content | Trump upends surveillance fight | Senate passes bill barring federal funds for Huawei equipment MORE (D-Calif.) a “third-rate politician” during a meeting Wednesday with congressional leaders on the situation in Syria, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer Sanders blasts Trump for picking 'completely unqualified' Pence for coronavirus response Trump passes Pence a dangerous buck Democratic mega-donor reaching out to Pelosi, Schumer in bid to stop Sanders: report MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters after they left the meeting early.

The White House had invited leadership and top committee members of both parties and chambers of Congress to discuss Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

That withdrawal paved the way for Turkey to initiate an onslaught against Syrian Kurdish forces that were instrumental in the U.S.-led fight against ISIS, and it has been widely criticized by lawmakers across the political spectrum.

Just before lawmakers left for the meeting, the House passed a resolution in a 354-60 vote that rebuked Trump’s decision to retreat from Syria.

Pelosi attributed Trump’s comments to being “shaken” by the overwhelming nature of the House vote, where 129 Republicans sided with Democrats.

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“That’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting because he just wasn’t relating to the reality of it,” Pelosi said. 

“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown, sad to say,” she added later.

Schumer added that Trump was “insulting” to Pelosi.

“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. I mean, this was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe,” Schumer said.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLawmakers dedicate Oversight room to Cummings, unveil plaque Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket Trump names Pence to lead coronavirus response MORE (D-Md.) also said the attendees "were offended deeply" by Trump’s treatment of Pelosi. 

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Hoyer, Schumer and Pelosi said they left the meeting after Trump’s comments to Pelosi but that other lawmakers in both parties stayed behind to continue asking questions about Syria and Turkey.

“This crisis required a rational, reasonable discussion between those of us who have been elected by the American people to set policy,” Hoyer said. “Unfortunately, the meeting deteriorated.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCongress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Lawmakers race to pass emergency coronavirus funding Warren introduces bill to redirect wall money to coronavirus MORE (R-Calif) and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulGun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars MORE (R-Texas) also spoke to reporters a short time later.

McCarthy called Pelosi's behavior "unbecoming" and criticized her for "storming out."

"The Speaker tries to make everything political," McCarthy said, adding that he gives credit to Democrats who stayed after leadership left and that the meeting seemed "much calmer" and "much more productive" after that.

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McCarthy and McCaul said they were given assurances that the United States is not withdrawing completely from Syria and would maintain a "residual force." McCaul added that lawmakers still plan to introduce a Turkey sanctions bill Thursday.

Schumer also said he asked Trump what his plan is to contain ISIS going forward and that Trump’s only response was that Turkey and Syria will guard ISIS prisoners.

“I said, is there any intelligence evidence that the Turks and the Syrians will have the same interest that the Kurds or we did in guarding ISIS? And the secretary of Defense was, thank god he was honest. He said, ‘We don’t have that evidence,’” Schumer said.

“This is appalling,” Schumer added. “The president had no plan, no real plan for containing ISIS.” 

Schumer pushed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain Lawmakers race to pass emergency coronavirus funding Trump upends controversial surveillance fight MORE (R-Ky.) to put the resolution the House passed Wednesday on the Senate floor. A Senate version of the measure has been introduced by Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMenendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungLobbying World Republican Senate campaign arm hauled in over million in January The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Ind.).

“We urge Leader McConnell to not just condemn the president, but put this resolution on the floor,” Schumer said. “The safety of America, the safety of the Kurds are in the hands of one person, President Trump, and the best way to pressure him is a strong, bipartisan resolution.”

Brett Samuels contributed