"Fox and Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade slammed President Donald Trump on Thursday for his plan to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria, calling the move "irresponsible."
The Fox News co-host sparred with colleagues Ed Henry and Jedediah Bila during the show about Trump's plan, saying "the counterbalance that this president has provided is dissipated."
"Meanwhile, in a stunning and I think irresponsible move yesterday, the president blindsided his secretary of defense, national security adviser, people on the outside who have been advising him like Gen. Jack Keane, as well as his State Department, and decides he's going to immediately evacuate 2,000 troops. And the State Department is already packing their bags. We are leaving Syria," Kilmeade said.
Henry attempted to defend Trump by asking whether anybody should be surprised since he talked about this plan during the 2016 campaign, prompting Kilmeade to push back and say nobody actually believes that ISIS is defeated, referencing Trump's tweet to the effect from Wednesday. He went on to say that Trump's special envoy, Brett McGurk, said just last week that ISIS is still in Syria and far from defeated.
Kilmeade was critical of Trump's Syria plan, but he acknowledged the U.S. has seen greater success against ISIS because Trump "made it a focus." He said that while the U.S. has had success, "it wasn't a victory."
"[Sen.] Lindsay Graham, [Sen.] Bob Corker, Sen. [Amy] Klobuchar: anyone who goes there understands this," Kilmeade said. "And the president blindsided the State Department, the Defense Department in doing this. Why have advisers?"
"ISIS, Al Qaeda, al-Shabaab have a main goal, hit us here at home. That's why we fight them there," he said.
Kilmeade suggested pulling out of Syria now harms potential strategic relationships with allies in the future.
"We are giving Syria over, and there is some stunning news in the Washington Post: there's been 39 tribal leaders killed in Mosul by ISIS leaders over the last month. They are surgically taking out all those people. They've forced them out of Iraq and are now forcing them out of Syria … The Kurds are frightened. They did all our fighting and now we are abandoning them. What does that say for future allies?" he asked.
Henry tried to deflect the question by saying Trump has had more gains on ISIS than any other president. Kilmeade called the the victories "temporary" and reminded Henry what happened when former President Barack Obama withdrew troops from Iraq.
"He is doing exactly if not worse than President Obama did. This is worse than blurring the red line," he said, prompting Bila to note some in the Libertarian wing of the party, such as Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), want to move out because "you can't stay there forever."
"Let me ask you, Jedediah. What good is reelection if you go ahead and give Syria to Iran, lose Iraq again. Look at this stunning news," Kilmeade responded.
He said moving out now would mean opening the door for Russia to establish greater control in the region.
"Now when we try to go back in there and reestablish ourselves, the big difference is the Russians because President Obama sat on his hands. The Russians came in and filled the void. We establish that area, started protecting the Kurds, pushing back on ISIS, and now we pullback, they come back. They're not gone, they're dispersed," Kilmeade said.
Kilmeade also quote-tweeted Trump's tweet earlier in the morning, saying the U.S. didn't "win anything..they are still there!!"
We didnt win anything..they are still there!! https://t.co/qSURTOSQgp
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) December 20, 2018
Kilmeade isn't the only Trump ally upset with the president over the decision. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) both released statements opposing the plan. Graham called it an "Obama-like mistake" and Rubio called it a "grave error."
Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) was also critical of Trump's plan, urging him to "immediately halt any plans to withdraw US troops from Syria and to consult with Congress on a long-term Syria strategy."
The US is the only global power able to stop Russia, Iran, & their terrorist proxies in Syria from total control of a region vital to national security. We've made significant progress in our fight against ISIS but the fight isn't over, & a US withdrawal will embolden bad actors.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) December 19, 2018