Syria Chaos Poses New Political Perils For Trump By Uniting Democratic And GOP Lawmakers Against Him

President Donald Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, clearing the way for Turkey's assault on Kurdish allies who helped in the fight against the Islamic State, has created a rare rift with congressional Republicans who have sharply criticized the decision.

For the president, the timing is poor.

Trump's move has helped unite Democrats and Republicans against him at a moment when he needs conservatives in Congress to fend off a fast-moving impeachment inquiry looking into the president's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his top political rivals.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and a close Trump ally, has been one of the harshest GOP critics of Trump's decision, tweeting last week that abandoning the Kurds would "put every radical Islamist on steroids.”

Other GOP senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Mitt Romney of Utah, have joined Graham in blasting the president's pullout.

If the Democratic-led House decides to impeach Trump, the Senate would have to hold a trial with senators acting as jurors.

Removal from office would require at least two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes.

But another Republican strategist, Ford O'Connell, said he didn't think the Syria issue would make GOP lawmakers any less likely to defend Trump on impeachment.

"They've compartmentalized it largely as a policy difference with Trump," O'Connell said of the Syria pullout. "They knew that he's been saying this and he prides himself as someone who tries to deliver on his promises."

Republican senators have concluded they can't win in 2020 without Trump on the ballot, O'Connell said. He pointed out that every Senate seat up for election in 2016 was won by the party whose presidential nominee also captured that state.

"They recognize that their ability to hold the Senate after 2020 depends on their political livelihood," O'Connell said.

Read more from Christal Hayes and Ledyard King at USA Today 

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published this page in In The News 2019-10-15 11:14:02 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy