House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her remarks and abrupt exit from a meeting with President Trump that has now devolved into a war of words between the leaders.
The California Democrat told reporters at a Capitol press conference Thursday that she had confronted the president about his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria when the exchange became heated, leading to Pelosi along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. storming out.
Pelosi recounted that she had asked Trump what his plan was in Syria, and the president responded by saying it was “to protect America.”
“I pointed out to the president that I had concerns that all roads seem to lead to Putin,” she continued, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The Russians have been trying to get a foothold in the Middle East for a very long time, unsuccessfully. And now the president has given them the opportunity with the Kurds reaching out to them for support in Syria.”
“Russians benefited, Putin did, when the president placed some doubt about our commitment to NATO right from the start of his administration,” she said, contending that the Russians benefit from any withholding of aid from Ukraine.
“All roads lead to Putin,” Pelosi said again.
The line was quickly picked up by media allies as the battle over who “won” the Syria showdown continued to rage on Twitter throughout Thursday.
Pelosi went after Trump on Syria during WH meeting, accusing him of once again advancing Putin’s interests: "All roads with you lead to Putin," Pelosi said, according to a senior Democratic aide.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 16, 2019
She claimed that when the discussion turned to troops being brought home from Syria, it caused Trump to have a “meltdown.”
“It just didn’t add up, but what it did do was cause a meltdown on the part of the president because he was unhappy with those questions,” she said.
Trump tweeted out a photo later accusing the speaker of having the meltdown.
‘Battle is on!’ Trump tweets photo of Pelosi’s ‘unhinged meltdown’ during Syria meeting https://t.co/0ut3w4M2w0
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 17, 2019
Pelosi later made the photo her banner on her Twitter profile.
In another tweet, Trump shared a picture of Pelosi, Hoyer, and Schumer with the caption: “Do you think they like me?”
Do you think they like me? pic.twitter.com/TDmUnJ8HtF
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2019
Schumer told reporters that the leaders walked out of the meeting after Trump referred to Pelosi as a “third-rate politician,” as the tantrum-throwing Democrats immediately whined to reporters.
Pelosi addressed a question Thursday about what was happening at the moment the now viral photo of her standing in the meeting was taken.
“I think I was excusing myself from the room,” she began, reiterating her comments about how she spoke to the president about his controversial Syria decision.
She ironically also suggested it would be “interesting” if there could be “a recording of what goes on” because of the conflicting stories that come out after the fact.
“At that moment, I was probably saying, ‘all roads lead to Putin’,” she said in response to the reporter’s question.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham fired back at the claims by Democrats Wednesday that Trump was having a meltdown during the meeting, offering a strong counter argument to their narrative.
.@realDonaldTrump was measured & decisive today. @SpeakerPelosi walking out was baffling but not surprising w NO intention of participating in a mtg on nat’l security. Dem “leadership” chose to storm out & whine to cameras, everyone else stayed to work on behalf of our country.
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) October 16, 2019
Radio host Mark Levin also noted that the fact that not all Democrats stormed out of the meeting was further proof that the moment of drama was pure theatrics.
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