The president usually doesn’t respond well to criticism and has plenty of insults to hurl at political allies and enemies alike. It seems this dynamic has only intensified now that Trump is facing waves of condemnation for his decision to abandon the Kurds in Syria, spurred by a phone call with Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
In a closed-door meeting with Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday, the president reportedly threw haymakers in all directions. After Chuck Schumer brought up former Defense Secretary James Mattis’s prediction that ISIS forces would grow after U.S. troop withdrawals, Trump called him the “world’s most overrated general,” adding that he wasn’t “tough” enough. Trump also bragged that he successfully “captured them in one month,” a timeline for defeating ISIS that was much faster than Mattis’s prediction.
Attempting to downplay the troop withdrawal that directly benefited the interests of Turkey, Syria, ISIS, and Russia, Trump said that the war in Syria was being fought “over land that has nothing to do with us.” The claim echoed the president’s public statement earlier in the day when he called Kurdish forces “no angels” and said that “there’s a lot of sand they can play with … it’s possibly never going to be very stable.”
Trump also turned his ire on the Democrats in the room, boasting of his high ceiling for loathing: “I hate ISIS more than you do,” he reportedly told Pelosi. He also said he was only in attendance because “someone wanted this meeting, so I agreed to it.” The White House organized the meeting.
Democrats ultimately walked out after the president called Nancy Pelosi a “third-rate politician.” On his way out, Trump yelled “see you at the polls.”
The sparring continued after the meeting: Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s behavior a “very serious meltdown” and said “we have to pray for his health” — a diagnosis that the president quickly shot back her way on Twitter:
Trump also tweeted a picture of the Speaker in a dominant pose in an attempt to show she’s the “unhinged” pol in the room, though it’s more likely to be remembered, along with her underhand State of the Union clap, as one of the stronger images of the Speaker’s career. Trump, forever unable to read a room, seems not to realize that the faces of his men at the table may reveal just who’s having the “meltdown.”