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

President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE had a “meltdown” and called House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Sunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation 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 SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol Democrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 HoyerDemocrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol House Democrats set 'goal' to vote on infrastructure, social spending package next week Holding back on defensive systems for Israel could have dangerous consequences MORE (D-Md.) also said the attendees "were offended deeply" by Trump’s treatment of Pelosi. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Fifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill Watch live: McCarthy holds briefing with reporters MORE (R-Calif) and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab Top Foreign Affairs Republican seeks declassification of Afghan intel House passes bill to compensate 'Havana syndrome' victims 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 McConnellGOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble 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) MenendezBiden, don't punish India Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict MORE (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungHow to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) Senate Democrats try to defuse GOP budget drama The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill 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