Maine’s two senators both say that President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from the Syrian border and open the door for Turkey to launch an offensive against Kurds in northern Syria was a mistake.
U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins say they support imposing sanctions if Turkey goes too far, and that the entire Senate should be briefed on how the decision was reached.
Collins, a Republican, says the president’s decision is jeopardizing the lives of Kurds who have supported the United States in its fight against ISIS, and believes sanctions against Turkey could be warranted.
“I think sanctions are a good idea. I worry whether they will be effective at this point in stopping the Turks from the slaughter of our allies. I vehemently disagree with the president’s decision,” she says.
King, an independent, says he wants to review the package of sanctions that have been put together by Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, but says he will support sanctions and believes that most other senators will also.
“I heard Sen. Graham say the other day he thought he could get 95 votes. I certainly think he can. I am certainly one of those votes. To have exposed our Kurdish allies to the tender mercies of the Turks is, I think, reprehensible,” he says.
King says one of the most troubling consequences of the president’s action in Syria is that allies are now unsure about whether they can rely on the United States.
“We are most successful when we have allies. And now we basically signal our allies, you can’t count on us,” he says.
And King joins Collins in calling for the Trump administration to brief the entire Senate on the matter.
“I believe that the administration has an obligation to come before us and explain what was an incredibly poor decision,” she says.
Both senators, who serve on the Intelligence Committee, say they are also puzzled by a comment from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that he would gladly investigate any Ukranian-based efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. elections, since the committee’s two-year investigation uncovered no links to Ukraine.
King and Collins say they expect the Turkey situation to be a focus of discussion when Congress gets back to work next week.