It had to be uncomfortable morning viewing for Donald Trump again Thursday as Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade tore into the president for his shock announcement that he wants to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria—a move Kilmeade slammed as “totally irresponsible” and that would allow ISIS to re-establish its severely diminished power.
The president stunned State and Defense Department officials Wednesday by declaring the terror group “defeated” and saying plans for a “full” and “rapid” withdrawal of U.S. ground forces from Syria were underway. Even administration officials seemed confused, and hinted that an effort to slow or stop Trump’s withdrawal was happening urgently.
The hosts of Trump’s favorite morning show seemed equally taken aback by the announcement, at times angrily arguing among themselves about it and with Kilmeade even going as far as to say it was worse than President Obama’s attempts to get troops out of Iraq.
In a searing insult to Trump’s ego, Kilmeade said that no one in the world born before the year 2000 agrees with the president’s assessment that ISIS have been beaten—essentially saying Trump is a child.
“Nobody thinks ISIS is defeated. Nobody who understands, who was born after 2000, who sees what’s happened since 9/11,” the Fox & Friends host blasted. “By the way, Brett McGurk, his personal envoy, just gave a speech last week saying ISIS is there, they're still a factor, they’re far from defeated. There’s 30,000 there.”
Kilmeade went on to say that withdrawing from Syria would severely diminish the ability to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and said that Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah would be thrilled by the news.
“ISIS, al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, have a main goal—hit us here at home, that’s why we fight them there,” he said. “This gives Syria to Iran, who are high-fiving, to Turkey, who talked to the president to days ago, and Russia. They are the most elated. Excuse me, Hezbollah also. We are giving Syria over.”
Kilmeade added: “He is doing exactly, if not worse, than what President Obama did.”
The president appeared to be tuning in as he vented his frustration on Twitter not long after Kilmeade’s outburst. He said the U.S. was spending “trillions of dollars” on the war effort and that the people of the Middle East “do not appreciate what we are doing.”
In a seemingly direct rebuke of Kilmeade’s point, Trump wrote: “Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us. I am building by far the most powerful military in the world. ISIS hits us they are doomed!”
Kilmeade did offer some praise to Trump, saying that the U.S. had greater success against ISIS because Trump “made it a focus.” But he went on: “We had success; it wasn’t a victory. Lindsay Graham, Bob Corker, Sen. Klobuchar. Anyone who goes there understands this and the president blindsided the State Department, the Defense Department in doing this. Why have advisers?”
As if that didn’t leave a bitter enough taste in the president’s mouth this morning, the hosts also reiterated their criticism from yesterday’s show for failing to follow through with his threat to shut down the federal government if he failed to secure funding for his Mexican border wall.
“This is going to be a problem for Republicans,” said guest host Jedediah Bila. “I think a lot of people who voted for President Trump counted on him on this particular issue. I think their feet were too the fire.”
She added: “You see a lot of people around the country saying: ‘Hold on a second, you told us that you weren’t afraid to shut down the government, that’s why we like you. What happened? You just gave in right away?’”
Again, the president appeared to respond directly to the show via his Twitter account and downplayed the importance of the wall—despite it being one of the central planks of his campaign platform in 2016.
“With so much talk about the Wall, people are losing sight of the great job being done on our Southern Border by Border Patrol, ICE and our great Military,” he wrote. “Remember the Caravans? Well, they didn’t get through and none are forming or on their way. Border is tight. Fake News silent!”
If they keep going like this, the Fox & Friends hosts might not be Trump’s best friends list for much longer.