President Trump on Wednesday called his former Defense secretary, Jim Mattis, “the world’s most overrated general” during an unhinged meeting with lawmakers on the situation in Syria.
The Trump White House had invited leadership and top committee members of both parties and chamber of Congress to discuss Trump’s widely condemned decision to abruptly withdraw U.S. armed forces from northern Syria. Trump’s decision paved the way for Turkey to commence an onslaught against Syrian Kurdish forces that were instrumental in the U.S.-led fight against ISIS.
During the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) read a quote from Mattis’s appearance Sunday on “Meet the Press,” where he warned that “ISIS will resurge” if the U.S. does not keep the pressure on in that region.
Trump cut Schumer off to say that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general.”
“You know why? He wasn’t tough enough,” Trump said, according to two Democratic aides. “I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in 1 month.”
Trump reportedly called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a “third-rate politician” during the meeting before Pelosi and Schumer walked out of the meeting.
“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown, sad to say,” Pelosi told reporters shortly after the meeting.
Pelosi said Trump was “shaken up” by having lost most Republicans in a Wednesday House vote condemning Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. The House overwhelmingly approved the measure in a 354-60 vote, with 129 Republicans voting in favor of it. Just 60 House Republicans voted against it.
Sen. Schumer said that the president turned the meeting into a “diatribe” that “was insulting to the speaker.”
“He was insulting, particularly to the speaker. 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,” Schumer said outside the White House.
“This was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts, particularly the fact of how to curtail ISIS, a terrorist organization that aims to hurt the United States,” he said.
“I told the president being from New York as he was [made him] particularly aware of the problems that terrorism that an organization like ISIS can create,” Schumer told reporters outside the White House, while the meeting continued with other lawmakers remaining.
“And the fact that someone no less than General Mattis has said that ISIS has been enhanced, that the danger of ISIS is so much greater, worries all of us,” he said, referring to former defense secretary James Mattis, who resigned over Trump’s earlier call to bug out of Syria.