Last week, Donald Trump announced a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, boasting that ISIS has been “defeated.” Defense Secretary James Mattis, unable to persuade the president to pursue a different course, resigned in protest.
We now know that the Pentagon chief wasn’t alone.
Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy for the coalition to defeat ISIS, has quit in protest of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria and essentially abandon the Kurdish forces there, three U.S. officials confirmed to NBC News.
McGurk informed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday evening of his decision, according to two State Department officials. His resignation is effective Dec. 31.
As if the White House didn’t have enough problems, tumult in the administration’s national security team adds to the chaotic conditions surrounding the president.
Which, true to form, Trump made worse.
The president declared via Twitter that he doesn’t “know” Brett McGurk, whom the president dismissed as an official “appointed by President Obama in 2015.
Let’s put aside the fact that McGurk’s tenure at the National Security Council began with an appointment from George W. Bush. Let’s instead consider the absurdity of Trump declaring that he doesn’t know the official responsible for coordinating international efforts to combat ISIS.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but shouldn’t he know McGurk quite well? If Trump is certain ISIS has been “defeated,” how did he arrive at this conclusion without first having a conversation with the official helping coordinate the international fight against ISIS?
What’s more, if the president has been so disinterested in the underlying campaign that he doesn’t know McGurk, perhaps this isn’t the sort of thing he should brag about?
Susan Rice, the former national security adviser in the Obama White House, published a tweet directed at Trump, which read, “The fact that you say you don’t know [McGurk] speaks volumes about your commitment to fighting ISIS, [Donald Trump]. Why don’t you know the man who has done more than any civilian to degrade ISIS? I can assure you [Barack Obama] knows him well.”