Liz Cheney: Rand Paul Seems 'Unburdened by Facts,' Focused on 'Blame America First'

Congresswoman: Trump's decisions to withdraw troops will be 'disastrous'

December 23, 2018

Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) seems to have a "blame America first" approach and be "unburdened by facts" in regards to the situation in Syria.

"He seems to really be focused on blame America first and unburdened by facts," Cheney said about the Kentucky senator's isolationist view.

"Face the Nation" host Margret Brennan asked Cheney about President Donald Trump's recent decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation.

"[Mattis' resignation] letter cited concerns about the president's lack of respect for allies and lack of clarity regarding competitors like China and Russia. He seemed to invoke a lot of principles that, traditionally, Republicans do embrace. Do you see this as a call to action for the party, that he says the president doesn't believe in these things?" Brennan asked.

"I am deeply, deeply concerned, and I oppose strongly the president's decision apparently to withdraw troops from Syria, the apparent decision that we're now going to be looking to withdraw troops from Afghanistan," Cheney replied. "I think the president has done a lot of very good things in terms of beginning to rebuild our military, getting out of the Iranian nuclear agreement, but these two decisions would be disastrous. They would really in many ways hand victories to our enemies, to Iran, to ISIS in Syria, the Taliban, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It's a very dangerous path to go down, and we shouldn't be going down it. We need to make sure that we keep our troops there in order to prevent the establishment of safe havens for those groups that want to attack us."

Brennan asked if there was anything Congress could do to change the president's mind.

"Well, I think that that is very important. I think that what we need to do talk about the substance of these policies. And nobody is talking about the kinds of things that Senator Paul mentions," Cheney said.

Paul appeared on "Face the Nation" before Cheney where he applauded Trump's decision to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

There are currently around 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria that have been training local forces in fighting ISIS. The U.S. also provided air and technical support to Kurdish and U.S.-backed rebel forces. The U.S. began airstrikes in Syria in 2014 and ground troops were sent in 2015 to combat ISIS. Paul has been a frequent critic of U.S. intervention abroad.

"If you look what our troops are doing on the ground in Syria, for example, about 2,200 special operations forces providing air support, providing some artillery support. And that battle, that fight against ISIS isn't done. You quoted the number of ISIS fighters still there. We've seen how quickly ISIS can reconstitute," Cheney said. "If we were to withdraw precipitously from Syria, if we were to withdraw from Afghanistan, leave a situation where our enemies could establish safe havens, there's no question in my mind the president will regret that and we'll be in a situation where we probably have to go back at a far greater cost, both in terms of treasure but also, mostly, in American lives."

Cheney reiterated her view that the president should reconsider his decision to withdraw U.S. forces.

"It's very important that the president reverses this decision, in my view, because you've got to remember,  we are there because we were attacked. And we were attacked by Al Qaeda on 9/11; that's why we're in Afghanistan. In Syria, you have Iran, you have ISIS; if we're to withdraw from Syria now, we're basically handing Syria to the Iranians," Cheney added.