Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today delivered the following remarks at a press conference in New York City, where he strongly condemned President Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria and said the president was “derelict in his duty” to protect America’s national security. Below are his remarks:
There have been so many developments the last few days, one after the other and it shows how bankrupt this president’s decision-making process is. The president is simply derelict in his duty as president. He is making Americans much less safe, he is undoing years of work to curb ISIS. He is making America more susceptible to terrorism by his actions, he may not have intended to do that but that's just what has happened as a result of his actions. And as New Yorkers, we particularly know the danger of terrorism, because of 9/11. I knew three people who lost their lives. Every New Yorker knows people who were lost and New Yorkers are more aware of terror than anyone else.
So we will be putting on the floor of the Senate and the House – Speaker Pelosi will be putting on the floor of the House – a joint resolution that urges the president to undo his decision to do everything he can to protect the Kurds, to do everything that we must do to prevent ISIS terrorists from escaping. And make sure that Turkey respects existing agreements related to Syria and with the United States.
And we believe we will have strong bipartisan support for these resolutions. In the House already, Congressman Mike McCaul, the Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is supporting this resolution.
Some new developments are just appalling. And by the way, for all those who may not wish to take the word of a Democrat, Secretary Mattis today, former Defense Secretary Mattis, probably the most respected man in America when it comes to the modern day fight against terrorism and military affairs, has said that this could very well strengthen ISIS. How can the president do something like this? The amazing thing is he does it on a whim. A call from Erdogan, a well-known dictator, someone who was never known to be honest. And he undoes years of hard work without consulting the State Department, without consulting the Defense Department, without consulting our military leaders, how can this man do these kinds of things?
As I said, he's just derelict in his duty. We have never had a president like this. He makes such strategic and important decisions on a whim, that leads to such detrimental effect.
Here are some other things, we have now seen that this morning it was reported that 700 people with close family relationships to ISIS prisoners have escaped; many of them could be ISIS supporters. They could aid and abet ISIS supporters, and we have been told that the president is now going to withdraw all 2,000 troops from Syria, which is just inviting disaster.
I saw Secretary Esper on TV this morning, and he said the Turks would have gone in whether we wanted them to or not – bunk. The United States air power would have prevented the Turks from going in if we said “don't go in.” And the Turks know that.
So, I think Secretary Esper should be standing up for our troops in our country and he doesn't have to go along with everything that Trump says he does, particularly saying things that are just not believable, we need a Secretary of Defense to be believable.
A lot of these ISIS people, a good number it's reported, have fake passports, passports that could be American, that could be European and that creates even greater danger for us as they scatter and escaped the prison camps.
It was reported today that for the first time in a while an ISIS flag was flown in a region of Syria. It's incomprehensible what's going on here. And it's incomprehensible that so many people would go along with a president who is doing such damage to the security of America, security of our country, of our city, which has been subject to the worst terrorist attack in history.
Our resolution will demand reversal of the president's decision and opposes it, and the words aren't exactly done yet but it will call on Erdogan to immediately cease unilateral military action; call on the United States to continue supporting the Syrian Kurdish communities both militarily and through humanitarian efforts; and call on the United States to ensure that the Turkish military respects existing agreements and acts with restraint, which by all reports they are not doing.
I called the president's policy erratic and reckless. Erratic decisions leads to recklessness, and no one can figure out what the rationale is, other than being persuaded by one of the more brutal dictators in the world, Erdogan, on the basis of a phone call. And as I said, we New Yorkers, we're the number one target for terrorists in America. So we in New York should be particularly worried about what the president has done and that's why as a New York Senator I'm going to work so hard to pass this resolution, this joint resolution, this bipartisan resolution to try and get the president to undo what he has done.
The House and Senate will have the same resolution. I've spoken with Speaker Pelosi, and we all know, as we all learned from 9/11, that terrorism can begin in a tiny cell as far as 7,000 miles away, and then metastasize into a domestic attack. We've worked so hard and so long to prevent it from happening again. We have sacrificed blood and dollars to make it not happen.
And in one fell swoop the president undoes too much of what has been accomplished.