Trump tells GOP senators he’s sticking to Syria and Afghanistan pullout 

Trump tells GOP senators he’s sticking to Syria and Afghanistan pullout 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE told a group of Republican senators Wednesday evening that he is sticking with his plan to draw down U.S. forces in Syria and Afghanistan, marking a new era in American foreign policy. 

Trump’s call to stick with his controversial decision to pull out of Syria and dramatically reduce forces in Afghanistan was praised by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Overnight Defense: Iran seizes British tanker in latest escalation | US, UK to discuss situation | Trump says 'no doubt' US downed Iranian drone after Tehran's denials | Pentagon's No. 2 policy official to leave | Lawmakers worry about Defense vacancies MORE (R-Ky.), a libertarian conservative who has long criticized American foreign policy for relying too much on military intervention. 

“I really am proud of the president for making an argument that really no president in recent history has made and that is that we’ve been at war too long in too many places and he’s really going to make a difference,” Paul said after meeting with Trump at the White House.

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Trump met one-on-one with Paul and then had a subsequent meeting with a larger group of Republican senators, including Paul and Sens. John CornynJohn CornynGOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Hillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Senators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school MORE (Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAna Navarro lashes out at Rubio for calling outrage over Trump's 'go back' tweet 'self righteous' US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (Fla.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout House Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities MORE (Iowa), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanAlarm sounds over census cybersecurity concerns Senate sets new voting record with Iran war measure Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need exit strategy with Iran | McConnell open to vote on Iran war authorization | Senate panel advances bill to restrict emergency arms sales MORE (Alaska) and Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsGOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default Trump puts hopes for Fed revolution on unconventional candidate Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown MORE (S.D.). 

“Not only is he following through with his Syria policy, I really do think there will be changes in Afghanistan as well,” Paul said. “If you look at the polling data for the American people, I think the American people are with the president and they’re tired, frankly, of both parties who are unwilling to stand up and say enough is enough.”

To back up his position, Trump pointed out how much U.S. taxpayers have spent on “gas stations, luxury hotels” and other projects in Afghanistan, Paul said. 

Asked about Trump’s Afghanistan policy, Paul said “in general the idea is we’re going to do things differently.”

“We’re not going to stay forever. The Afghans will need to step up. The Afghans will need to begin fighting their own wars and taking care of their country,” Paul said. “It’s not that we’ll do nothing. I think the president still will help them. I think we’ll still actually probably be there longer than I would like to be."

“But the president, I think, is willing to acknowledge that America’s longest war needs to come to a close and that we need to learn how to declare victory,” he added.

Trump shocked Republicans on Capitol Hill last month when he announced he would withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria, declaring in a video “We have won against ISIS,” referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and “our boys, our young women, our men — they’re all coming back, and they’re coming back now.” 

On Wednesday, four Americans on a patrol were killed in Syria in a suicide bombing. ISIS took credit for the attack. 

National security adviser John Bolton contradicted the president earlier this month by saying during a trip to Israel that certain “objectives” must be met before troops leave Syria, and acknowledged that some ISIS forces remain active. 

Bolton said that ISIS must be destroyed and the safety of Kurdish allies guaranteed before U.S. forces leave. 

The Trump administration also announced last month that it would begin withdrawing about 7,000 troops from Afghanistan — about half the number deployed to the region. 

“I will tell you that if you look at his language and his tweets on endless war and you hear him talk about how long this has gone on, I think you’re really seeing one of the extraordinary things that people couldn’t figure out: How did Donald Trump get elected? It was because he doesn’t fit neatly in a box. He was a different kind of Republican who actually looked at the issues of war and said, ‘You know what? We ought to think of America first,’ ” Paul said. 

Paul declined to reveal any specifics Trump shared about his timelines for withdrawal.

“We talked extensively about Syria. He talked about how we will continue to make sure that ISIS is not a problem but at the same time, we will not just go into theater and stay forever. I think he was steadfast in that,” Paul said.