WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s feud with his intelligence chiefs and a top Republican senator went into its third day when the president declared Friday it is “time to start coming home” from overseas conflicts.
Trump’s hand-picked intelligence chiefs earlier this week told a Senate committee that the Islamic State remains a threat, as well as entities inside Afghanistan, and that North Korea is unlikely to ever give up its nuclear arms. On Thursday, Trump refused to express confidence in his intel leaders.
But Trump has spent parts of the last three days arguing ISIS’s “Caliphate will soon be destroyed” and peace talks with Taliban leaders could soon lead to the full withdrawal of U.S. military troops from Afghanistan. He also contends he could soon strike a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
What’s more, more than 40 GOP senators joined a large number of Democrats in advancing an amendment to a Middle East policy bill pushed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that amounted to a Republican rebuke of Trump. That measure stated that “al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to us here at home.”
“I believe the threats remain,” McConnell said Thursday, breaking with Trump without naming him. “ISIS and al Qaeda have yet to be defeated. And American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions there.”
The president clearly is frustrated with his intel honchos and the Senate amendment, telling reporters Thursday of his intelligence bosses: “No, I disagree with certain things that they said. I think I’m right, but time will prove that. Time will prove me right, probably.” Later, he tweeted a photo of his afternoon intelligence briefing with those very intelligence leaders and contended they told him their testimony was misconstrued by media outlets — even though their words were published and aired verbatim and showed they hold different views than does their boss.
Trump laid into all of the above anew on Friday morning, flashing his isolationist “America first” philosophy that itself is a break from the more interventionist establishment Republican Party.
“During my campaign I said, very strongly, that these wars must finally end,” he tweeted. “Syria was loaded with ISIS until I came along. We will soon have destroyed 100 percent of the Caliphate, but will be watching them closely. It is now time to start coming home and, after many years, spending our money wisely.”
He ended his tweets on the subject with a clear shot at the intelligence chiefs and GOP senators who voted for the McConnell measure: “Certain people must get smart!”
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