MSNBC Asks Ben Rhodes to Fact-Check Trump on Syria

October 23, 2019

MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell turned to former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes to "fact check" President Donald Trump on American involvement in Syria.

On Wednesday, Mitchell asked Rhodes to correct Trump's statements about ISIS fighters who escaped during U.S. withdrawal from the region. Trump claimed during a Wednesday speech that ISIS was "under very very strict lock and key," with only a "small number" escaping when American troops pulled back from Kurdish territory within Syria.

"They've been largely recaptured," Trump added.

In his "fact check," Rhodes said that it was "obvious" that a significant number of ISIS fighters escaped, before taking a "look at the broader context" of how the terrorist group gained a foothold in Syria in the first place.

"Turkey has not had an interest in fighting ISIS," Rhodes said. "In fact, the situation that we faced in 2014 when this all began is that Turkey was actually permitting the free flow of people across that border into Syria to fight with ISIS. So it was the Kurds, who put their lives on the line, 11,000 Kurds lost in that fight against ISIS, with U.S. air support and the support of U.S. special forces."

Rhodes neglected to mention his involvement in one of President Barack Obama's key foreign policy blunders in Syria, which contributed to the long-running civil war. In 2012, Obama drew a "red line" and declared that if Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his people, the United States would send troops to intervene. Assad did just that, but Obama did not make good on his pledge.

Rhodes often tried to cover for the Obama administration's foreign policy mistakes. In 2012, he instructed then-United Nations ambassador Susan Rice to lie about a terror attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Rhodes also bragged to the New York Times in 2016 that he had manipulated many members of the press into supporting the Iran nuclear deal.