UPDATE 2-Pelosi says Trump had ‘meltdown’ over House vote on Syria

2019-10-16 15:45:12

(Adds Syria briefing canceled)

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, Oct 16 (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democratic leaders’ cut short a White House meeting after Republican President Donald Trump had a “meltdown” over a House of Representatives vote condemning his Syria withdrawal.

Trump called Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and the meeting deteriorated into a diatribe, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters.

“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown. Sad to say,” Pelosi told reporters as she and the other Democrats emerged from the White House.

The Democratic leader said Trump had a temper tantrum because so many Republicans joined Democrats to vote for a resolution condemning the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey’s offensive against U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds.

The vote was 354 to 60, with dozens of Trump’s fellow Republicans joining the majority Democrats. The split underscored deep unhappiness in Congress over Trump’s action, which many lawmakers view as abandoning Kurdish fighters who had been fighting alongside Americans to defeat Islamic State militants.

“I think that vote – the size of the vote, more than 2-1 of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did – probably got to the president. Because he was shaken up by it,” Pelosi said after emerging from the White House.

“And that’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it.”

Republicans said Pelosi “stormed out.” Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was disappointed to see Democratic leadership walk out of the meeting.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said how Pelosi addressed Trump was inappropriate and they had a productive meeting after she left.

There was no immediate response from the White House.

Pelosi said the White House scrapped a briefing for the full House scheduled for Thursday and the Democrats said they were concerned Trump did not have a strategy going forward in the region.

“I asked the president what his plan was to contain ISIS. He didn’t really have one,” Schumer said. (Reporting by Steve Holland, Doina Chiacu, Eric Beech, Lisa Lambert; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

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