Democratic leaders walk out of briefing with Trump after hearing little but insults from him

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the White House with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (left) and Senator Chuck Schumer (right).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the White House with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (left) and Senator Chuck Schumer (right). BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

Democratic congressional leaders said they walked out of a briefing with President Trump on Turkey after hearing little but insults from Trump.

The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, said Trump insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by calling her a ‘‘third-rate politician.’’ Schumer said the meeting ‘‘was not a dialogue. This was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts.’’

“He was insulting, particularly to the speaker,” he said. “She kept her cool completely.”

Pelosi told reporters outside the White House that ‘‘what we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown.’’

Pelosi claimed Trump appeared visibly ‘‘shaken up’’ after House passage of a bipartisan condemnation of his decision to order the withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria.


Pelosi also said Democrats ‘‘couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it.’’

Trump also described former Defense Secretary James Mattis as ‘‘the world’s most overrated general’’ during the meeting, according to a Democrat familiar with the briefing who offered a readout on condition of anonymity.

Trump, according to the person, was presented at one point with a quote from Mattis warning of an Islamic State group resurgence if the US does not continue to apply pressure. But Trump responded with the insult, criticizing Mattis for not being ‘‘tough enough.’’

Trump also said during the meeting that 100 Islamic State prisoners had escaped following the US withdrawal from the region, but insisted they were the ‘‘least dangerous’’ ones.

Asked whether that was true, current Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he didn’t know.

Trump, for his part, tweeted criticism of Pelosi and other Democratic leaders on Wednesday night.

The Democrats’ walkout came after Trump declared Wednesday the US has no stake in supporting the Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as US partners against IS extremists.


The House, bitterly divided over the Trump impeachment inquiry, banded together for an overwhelming 354-60 denunciation of the US troop withdrawal. Many lawmakers expressed worry that it may lead to revival of IS as well as Russian presence and influence in the area — in addition to the slaughter of many Kurds.