H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s former national security adviser, criticized the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria.
“I believe that the troop commitment in northeastern Syria was immensely helpful to U.S. security and U.S. interests in a number of ways. First of all, as we know, these terrorist groups just don’t – after you defeat them on the physical battlefield –go away,” McMaster said on Thursday at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“So what’s unfortunate, I think, about the decision is I think a lot of people who may have been talking to the president or the president himself may not have focused maybe on the importance of that force in connection with defeating the terrorist organization, but also having the influence necessary to ultimately help end this catastrophe across the greater Middle East associated with this broader sectarian civil war,” he added.
McMaster, who left the administration in March of last year, added that “when you thought it could not get worse in the Middle East, guess what? It could.”
McMaster was asked if he thinks it was appropriate for the president to “solicit” a foreign government to interfere in the U.S. election process. The question was a reference to Trump’s conversation with the president of Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
“Of course, no,” he replied. “No, it’s absolutely not and of course, what has to happen here is a, you know, seeing our democracy play out, right, the separation of powers play out and for the American people through their representatives and representatives in Congress to make a judgment as to whether or not that happened but to answer your question directly, of course it’s just not — it’s not appropriate.”
McMaster said Trump never solicited “any kind of assistance” from a foreign leader during his time in the White House.
“I’ll just tell you – never any incident of the president soliciting any kind of assistance for anything domestic or political, just didn’t happen when I was there or in any conversation that I was privy to and part of, which was, I think almost, really all of the head of state calls and almost all of the meetings,” McMaster said.
When asked for his reaction to the transcript of the Trump’s conversation with the president of Ukraine and the whistleblower complaint, McMaster said, “I read it personally. I’m in California now man so I don’t really — I don’t think I can add anything to what anybody else has said or anybody else who has read it really.”