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War of words at the White House

President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE poured fuel on the fire in his fight with Congress over Syria, lashing out at Democrats during a closed-door White House meeting on Wednesday and sparring publicly with Republican allies.

The chaotic day was a U-turn from earlier this week when the administration applied new sanctions on Turkey in an effort to combat fierce criticism from Capitol Hill and when Republicans were dialing back their furor in an effort to get on the same page as Trump.

But the unity effort went off the rails in a closed-door meeting between Trump, congressional leadership and key committee members, which was preceded by hours of fighting between Trump and lawmakers.

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Congressional Democrats and sources say the president used the meeting to fume at Democrats and former administration officials, at one point calling Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (D-Calif.) a “third-rate politician” and former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisNearly 300 more former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter John Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report Biden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies MORE “the world’s most overrated general.”

“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown, sad to say,” Pelosi told reporters after she left the meeting with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Trump announces opening of relations between Sudan and Israel Five takeaways on Iran, Russia election interference MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerTop Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate Trump orders aides to halt talks on COVID-19 relief This week: Coronavirus complicates Senate's Supreme Court fight MORE (D-Md.).

“We have to pray for his health because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president,” she added after returning to the Capitol.

Schumer said Trump was “insulting” to Pelosi.

“She kept her cool completely, but he called her a third-rate politician,” Schumer said. “I mean, this was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe.”

A Democratic source familiar with how the meeting transpired said it “devolved into the president calling the Speaker a name. He was quite nasty, so she stood up to go. She started to sit back down but Rep. Hoyer got her to go. Pelosi and Hoyer walked out of the meeting.”

The source added that when Pelosi and Hoyer were preparing to walk out of the meeting, Trump said to them: “I’ll see you at the polls.”

The White House hit back at Democrats in a statement and defended Trump. White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamMelania Trump cancels campaign appearance over 'lingering cough' The Memo: Trump grapples with credibility gap in crisis President Trump, Melania Trump test positive for COVID-19 MORE described Trump as “measured, factual and decisive.”

“Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising. She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues,” Grisham said.

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She also knocked Democrats for leaving the meeting, saying they “chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine” while “everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.”

The standoff at the White House was the latest twist in a dramatic Wednesday that started with Republicans and Trump moving toward the same page and ended with the president waging a high-stakes battle with Democrats and GOP allies alike.

“I think he just needs to understand that this was a mistake and he needs to work with us,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight McConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session MORE (R-S.D.) told reporters, outlining his hopes for the meeting.

Trump infuriated Republicans when he dismissed the Kurds during an Oval Office meeting by saying they were “no angels.” He also downplayed the need for the United States to become actively involved in ending Turkey’s military invasion of Syria, saying “it’s not our border.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (R-Ky.) offered an unprompted defense of the Kurds during his weekly press conference, and characterized Trump’s decision to pull back troops as a “mistake.”

“I don’t know how many times I need to say it, and I think I’m speaking for most members of my conference, that this was a mistake and I hope it can be repaired,” McConnell said.

Told about Trump’s comments, Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyWill anyone from the left realize why Trump won — again? Ratings drop to 55M for final Trump-Biden debate Bipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning MORE (R-Utah) added: “Oh my goodness gracious. Oh my goodness gracious.”

“Abandoning them was a very dark moment in American history,” he added. “The door was opened for what is occurring by the decision taken by the administration. So for us to be shocked and to look at Turkey and say, ‘My goodness, we can’t believe what you’re doing’ — we were the ones who opened that door.”

The pushback is a stark reversal from Tuesday, or even earlier Wednesday, when Republicans seemed to be making an effort to align themselves with Trump after he announced sanctions on Turkey and deputized Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoEntire Nigerian police force mobilized after days of violent protests that have killed at least 69 Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting US critical facilities with destructive malware MORE to travel to Turkey to try to negotiate an offramp.

Underscoring the reversal, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Lou Dobbs goes after Lindsey Graham: 'I don't know why anyone' would vote for him  MORE (R-S.C.) started Wednesday by publicly blaming Turkey for the current situation in Syria. By lunchtime, he was locked in another spat with Trump, who publicly called him out during a meeting at the White House.

“I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security, that in my view what is unfolding in Syria is going to be a disaster. I hope I’m wrong. I will not be quiet,” Graham told reporters. “The president’s decision here, I think, is the biggest mistake of his presidency. And I will not ever be quiet — I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”

He added in a tweet that Trump “appears to be hell-bent on making the same mistakes in Syria as President Obama made in Iraq.”

The House and Senate were supposed to receive classified briefings on the situation Thursday, but the briefings were nixed.

Pelosi tweeted Wednesday afternoon she was “deeply concerned that the White House has canceled an all-Member classified briefing on the dangerous situation the President has caused in Syria, denying the Congress its right to be informed as it makes decisions about our national security.”

A Senate aide confirmed that the upper chamber’s briefing was canceled, as well.

A Democratic aide told The Hill that the White House gave “no credible justification” for the cancellation.

The canceled briefings came hours after lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to oppose withdrawing from Syria and to back the Kurds, a symbolic rebuke of Trump’s strategy. 

In a 354-60 vote — with 129 Republicans voting “yes” — the House passed a resolution from Reps. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Trump, Biden set to meet in final debate | Explicit Fort Bragg tweets were sent by account administrator | China threatens retaliation over Taiwan arms sale Is Trump a better choice for Jewish voters than Biden? Overnight Defense: Trump says he's leaving Walter Reed, 'feeling really good' after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows | Dems expand probe into Pompeo speeches MORE (D-N.Y.) and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulBiden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver Warren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates Bipartisan action needed to counter Chinese influence MORE (R-Texas) that “opposes the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in northeast Syria.

It also calls on Turkey to end its military action, says the United States should protect the Kurds and calls on the White House “to present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

While the resolution condemns Trump’s decision, the president is named just once in the measure, when it notes he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 6.

Nonetheless, Pelosi said Trump appeared “shaken” by the overwhelming nature of the House vote.

In his remarks after the White House meeting, Schumer called on McConnell to take up the resolution. A Senate version of the measure has been introduced by Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Kasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report MORE (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungRepublicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Vulnerable Republicans break with Trump on ObamaCare lawsuit Senate GOP eyes early exit 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.”

– Alexander Bolton contributed