Last Wednesday, President Donald Trump disingenuously claimed—on Twitter, of course—that his administration had defeated the Islamic State in Syria. That goal was his “only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the president tweeted.
That statement followed news reports that Trump had decided to withdraw remaining U.S. troops from Syria, essentially leaving the U.S.’ Kurdish allies in Syria to fend for themselves. By all accounts, Trump made the decision after speaking by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“You know what? It’s yours,” Trump reportedly told Erdogan, according to The Washington Post. “I’m leaving.”
The announcement prompted the exit of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and later, of the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS, Brett McGurk. McGurk was the U.S.’ top strategist in defeating ISIS for years, and he was deeply involved in building an anti-ISIS alliance in Syria and coordinating the effort with close U.S. allies.
On Friday, McGurk, who strongly disagreed with Trump’s decision, submitted his resignation, stating that he would be out by the end of the year, instead of in February as he originally had planned. The news made the rounds on Saturday.
Sure enough, Trump couldn’t handle the criticism his decisions had generated. The president responded on Saturday with a tweet that claimed he doesn’t even know McGurk.
“Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!” Trump tweeted.
If true, Trump’s claim that he doesn’t know McGurk is shocking. It would be a mind-boggling display of ignorance that also is dangerous. It would be further evidence that Trump is unfit to serve as president.
The alternative is that Trump does know McGurk, and as the president is prone to do, claimed not to know him because McGurk had criticized Trump. This also would be further evidence that Trump is unfit to serve.
You know who does know McGurk? Iranian American journalist Jason Rezaian. Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter, was arrested in Iran in 2014 and held for over a year on bogus spying charges. McGurk was instrumental in negotiating Rezaian’s release—along with three other dual-nationality prisoners—in a prisoner exchange in 2016.
On Saturday, Rezaian tweeted: “As an American Citizen directly impacted by @brett_mcgurk’s work as a diplomat, I thank him deeply for his years of dedicated service. Without his relentless efforts @YeganehSalehi and I would not be here. That’s a fact.”
Many other observers took to Twitter to commend McGurk’s efforts and to widely condemn Trump’s juvenile statement. Some pointed out that McGurk had “special presidential envoy” in his title.
So, Republicans, that leaves us with this: It’s beyond time for Trump to go. Do something.