Fury over Trump Syria decision grows

Democrats in Congress are vowing to quickly slap new sanctions on Ankara and formally oppose President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE's decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria following Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish forces loyal to the United States.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally CDC causes new storm by pulling coronavirus guidance Overnight Health Care: CDC pulls revised guidance on coronavirus | Government watchdog finds supply shortages are harming US response | As virus pummels US, Europe sees its own spike MORE (D-Calif.) spoke Monday with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Fox's Napolitano: Supreme Court confirmation hearings will be 'World War III of political battles' Grassley, Ernst pledge to 'evaluate' Trump's Supreme Court nominee MORE (R-S.C.), an ally of Trump who is fiercely critical of his policy on Syria, about the need for bipartisan legislation.

“As we find ourselves in a situation where the president gave a green light to the Turks to bomb and effectively unleashed ISIS, we must have a stronger sanctions package than what the White House is suggesting,” said Pelosi.


Republicans have excoriated Trump for his decision, but it’s not clear how far they’ll go with legislation to explicitly rebuke him.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE (R-Ky.) didn’t tip his hand Monday on what he will support, but said he was “gravely concerned” and that talks would be ongoing in the Senate this week on how to respond.

“Withdrawing American leadership from this pivotal region would not serve our nation’s short-, medium- or long-term interests. ... I look forward to discussing what the United States can do to avoid a strategic calamity with my Senate colleagues and with senior administration officials when the Senate returns to Washington this week,” he said.

Graham and Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenCongress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out Democrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate Mid-Atlantic states sue EPA over Chesapeake Bay pollution MORE (D-Md.) are expected to introduce a sanctions bill this week that would target Turkey’s military and energy sector. It would also restrict any assets Turkish leadership, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have within U.S. jurisdiction and limit their ability to travel to the United States.

“I will be working across party lines in a bicameral fashion to draft sanctions and move quickly. ... The Speaker indicated to me that time was of the essence,” Graham said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, at least two groups of lawmakers — one led by Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups | Kudlow: 'No sector worse hurt than energy' during pandemic | Trump pledges 'no politics' in Pebble Mine review Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups  Press: The big no-show at the RNC MORE (R-Wyo.) and another by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse panel halts contempt proceedings against Pompeo after documents turned over Engel subpoenas US global media chief Michael Pack The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep MORE (D-N.Y.) and the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHouse Republicans blame Chinese cover-up for coronavirus pandemic Engel subpoenas US global media chief Michael Pack Russia continues Navalny probe, wants to send additional investigators to Germany MORE (Texas) — are preparing their own sanctions legislation.

In addition to sanctions legislation, lawmakers are working on a joint resolution that would oppose Trump’s strategy, urge Turkey to stop its military operations, and support military and humanitarian efforts for the Kurds.

“Our first order of business was to agree that we must have a bipartisan, bicameral joint resolution to overturn the president’s dangerous decision in Syria immediately,” Pelosi said Monday.

Trump said Monday implemented his own financial penalties — a step lawmakers warned wouldn't quell the bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill.

“The United States will aggressively use economic sanctions to target those who enable, facilitate and finance these heinous acts in Syria. I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” Trump said.

He added that the penalties and travel restrictions would target Turkish officials involved in human rights abuses or “threatening the peace, security or stability in Syria.”

Democrats said Trump’s move didn’t go far enough.

“Strong sanctions, while good and justified, will not be sufficient in undoing that damage nor will it stop the consequences stemming from the ISIS jailbreak,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerJacobin editor: Primarying Schumer would force him to fight Trump's SCOTUS nominee CNN's Toobin: Democrats are 'wimps' who won't 'have the guts' to add Supreme Court seats Republican senator says plans to confirm justice before election 'completely consistent with the precedent' MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedWhen 'Buy American' and common sense collide Hillicon Valley: Russia 'amplifying' concerns around mail-in voting to undermine election | Facebook and Twitter take steps to limit Trump remarks on voting | Facebook to block political ads ahead of election Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts MORE (D-R.I.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezKasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage MORE (D-N.J.) said in a joint statement. “The first step when Congress returns to session this week is for Republicans to join with us in passing a resolution making clear that both parties are demanding the president’s decision be reversed.”

Asked if Trump’s statement scuttled the need for additional legislation, a Democratic leadership aide said, “We have no details beyond a vague statement. Regardless, there is significant bipartisan interest in advancing a legislative sanctions package.”

Trump’s announcement came shortly after he doubled down on his decision to pull back U.S. troops, saying Syrian President Bashar Assad can protect the Kurds.

“Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land,” Trump tweeted. “Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”

Trump’s invitation to America’s adversaries to protect onetime U.S. partners followed a separate tweet Sunday where he stressed he was working with Graham and others in Congress to impose new sanctions against Turkey, saying there was “great consensus.”

Syria has emerged as a major point of tension between Trump and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill, who blasted his decision to pull back U.S. troops as “catastrophic,” a “terrible decision” and the “biggest blunder of his presidency.”

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperUS issues Iran sanctions to enforce UN action ignored by international community Top admiral: 'No condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' Overnight Defense: Trump hosts Israel, UAE, Bahrain for historic signing l Air Force reveals it secretly built and flew new fighter jet l Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' MORE announced Sunday that Trump had ordered the withdrawal of nearly all 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria. Trump said Monday a “small footprint” of U.S. troops would stay at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria to fight ISIS, while the rest would “redeploy and remain in the region to monitor the situation.”

Meanwhile, reports emerged over the weekend that hundreds of ISIS prisoners had escaped in northern Syria, video of a Turkish-aligned Syrian militia executing Kurds circulated online and the Kurds made a deal for Syrian forces to move into the area for the first time in seven years.

Graham gave Trump some cover Monday after spending the past week repeatedly lashing out at the administration. During a Fox News interview, he placed the blame for the situation in Syria on Turkey, saying Erdoğan had made “the biggest mistake of his life” and “misjudged” Trump.

“There’s going to be crippling sanctions imposed by the Congress to supplement what President Trump’s administration has done,” he said. “I’ve never seen such bipartisan support. We’ve all had it with Erdoğan.”

Schumer stressed during a New York press conference on Sunday that he and Pelosi have been coordinating over the details of the resolution. The Senate voted earlier this year to warn the president against removing troops from Syria, after he initially floated doing so in December.

“We've worked so hard and so long to prevent it from happening again,” he said. “We have sacrificed blood and dollars to make it not happen.”