In the wake of President Trump's new Syria policy which drew back a significant number of U.S. troops in northern Syria, Kurdish forces, top lawmakers and former U.S. officials have all warned Mr. Trump that a U.S. pullout from the region could give ISIS room to rebuild, and send a message that the U.S. is willing to abandon close allies when the political winds change. On this week's "Face the Nation", Defense Secretary Mark Esper provided new updates on that front.
Here's the big takeaways from Sunday's episode of "Face the Nation" with Margaret Brennan
Defense Secretary Mark Esper tells "Face the Nation" U.S. to evacuate Syria:
- Secretary of Defense Mark Esper that the U.S. is "preparing to evacuate" about 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria "as safely and quickly as possible." The move follows the start of the Turkish offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the main U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS.
- What Esper said: "We find ourselves, we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies, and it's a very untenable situation," Esper said. "So I spoke with the president last night, after discussions with the rest of the national security team, and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria."
- Why that matters: With a full blown U.S. retreat from Syria, ISIS footholds are now vulnerable again and Kurdish forces are left to fend for themselves against the onslaught from Turkey.
Schiff says whistleblower may not need to testify in impeachment probe
- Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, that congressional investigators leading the impeachment inquiry might not pursue testimony from the intelligence community whistleblower if doing so risks exposing the person's identity.
- What Schiff said: "Given that we already have the call record, we don't need the whistleblower, who wasn't on the call, to tell us what took place during the call," Schiff said on "Face the Nation" Sunday, referring to the July 25 call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president. "We have the best evidence of that."
- Why that matters: While lawmakers were keen on hearing from the whistleblower directly, looking to protect the individual during possible testimony at great lengths, it shows that Mr. Trump's threats to expose his/her identity are being taken seriously.
GOP lawmakers balk at Trump's Syria policy, Ukraine contact
- Representative Adam Kinzinger and Senator Ted Cruz both parted ways with President Trump on two key issues: Syria and Ukraine. Kinzinger suggested that Mr. Trump was risking national security with his new Syria policy, while Cruz took issue with the president's rhetoric toward Joe Biden.
- What they said: Asked on "Face the Nation" whether Trump's comments about China probing the former vice president were "appropriate," Cruz said "of course not." He added, "Elections in the U.S. should be decided by Americans and it's not the business of foreign countries, any foreign countries, to be interfering in our elections."
- , meanwhile was more explicit in his displeasure with the president's foreign policy action in Syria: "Abandoning people that we frankly told that we were gonna be with is disheartening, depressing. Frankly it's weak and I don't see how it follows through on the president's promise, his biggest promise in the campaign to defeat ISIS because I think it is going to resurge."
- Why that matters: Two Republicans publicly sparring with the president shows clear signs that the party is being pushed to its limit on defending Mr. Trump. When it comes to foreign policy matters, top brass, including Trump allies like Cruz, are not willing to part with their base and platforms.
CBS News poll finds Americans want Trump to comply with inquiry
- While the White House has remained adamant that they will not comply with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's impeachment inquiry, a found that a majority of Americans say the Trump administration should cooperate with the probe.
- What the poll found: Support for the inquiry itself remains distinct and relatively higher than belief that the actions deserve impeachment, an important separation to make. The nation remains split over whether or not President Trump should ultimately be impeached over his actions regarding Ukraine, with one in five feeling it is too soon to say.
- Why that matters: In principle, a majority of Americans (including most Democrats and independents) say a U.S. president should not be able to ask other countries for help with U.S. election campaigns. While Republicans' views were mixed on this, it shows a growing consensus that the American public is at odds with how the president is using his office.