Donald Trump’s surprise announcement via his Twitter account Wednesday morning that he would order all United States combat troops to pull out of Syria has drawn almost universal criticism, with even top Republicans in the Senate tearing into Trump over the sudden move, according to Politico. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called for immediate congressional hearings, saying, “If Obama had done this, all of us would be going nuts because it’s such a bad idea.”
But the incoming Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, took the criticism of Trump’s decision a step further, explicitly linking the move — apparently made against the advice of military and national security officials, as well as United States allies, according to CNN — to Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who faced a grueling sentencing hearing Tuesday for his guilty plea to lying about his Russia contacts.
Flynn was not only connected to Russia, his private security firm reportedly accepted a $600,000 contract from the government of Turkey to secretly push Turkish interests in the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign. Two of Flynn’s top business associates were charged this week by federal prosecutors with illegally lobbying for Turkey as a result of that contract — their indictments likely resulting from information provided by Flynn, according to the Washington Post. Flynn also admitted to the same offenses, but was not charged due to his acting as an informant for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
According to experts, the Turkish government, along with Russia, will directly benefit from the U.S. troop withdrawal announced by Trump by allowing Turkey to move troops into Syria without U.S. interference.
“A confrontation between the U.S and Turkey, officially NATO allies, would create a geopolitical crisis at the heart of the world’s most powerful military alliance,” wrote former Air Force combat controller Kyle Rempfer in the Military Times.
“A withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would potentially cede control to Turkey, resolving tensions between the two NATO allies.”
In a statement posted to her Democratic Leader site on Wednesday, Pelosi drew a direct link between Flynn and Trump’s shocking pullout decision.
“All Americans should be concerned that this hasty announcement was made on the day after sentencing in criminal proceedings began against the President’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who admitted that he was a registered foreign agent for a country with clear interests in the Syrian conflict,” Pelosi said.
Trump has continued to offer praise and well wishes for Flynn, even as Flynn has provided information to Mueller that could possibly come back to damage Trump even while he has lashed out at another former associate who has cooperated with prosecutors, Michael Cohen, labeling Cohen “a rat.” But even Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been unable to offer any explanation for why Trump remains loyal to Flynn, as CNBC reported.