Cheney And Barrasso Oppose Trump's Plan For Syria
Liz Cheney is now the number three most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives - and being a member of leadership usually means carrying the President's water and trying to get other Republicans to help do the same. But after Trump announced he was pulling U.S. troops from their posts in Syria where they had been protecting the Kurds from a Turkish invasion, Cheney helped spearhead legislation sanctioning Turkey even as Trump loosened sanctions.
"We've got to ensure that we do not have a resurgence of ISIS. I think that requires having a true presence there," Cheney said.
Cheney now supports Trump's decision to keep a small contingent of forces in Syria to protect the nation's oil fields. And she's cheering this weekend's successful operation against the former leader of ISIS.
"I'm glad that the president has decided not to withdraw all the forces. I think that the Baghdadi operation demonstrated why it's so crucial, both in terms of intelligence gathering capability and in terms of having forces on the ground who can respond quickly," Cheney said.
Even as Cheney refuses to criticize Trump directly, she's also been sounding different of late: She's actually praising Democratic Leaders - which is basically unheard of from her.
"And I'm glad that the Democrats are bringing the Armenian Genocide resolution to the floor. The last time the Turks attempted to relocate as many people as they're talking about relocating now from Turkey into that buffer zone. You had the Armenian genocide. I think it's important for us to make sure that we're sending a very clear signal both in the sanctions resolution and in the genocide resolution that we do not support what the Turks have done," Cheney said.
That's why Democrats are dubious.
"I think a lot of Republicans are in a rush to support a sanctions bill so that they can check a box," Murphy said.
That's Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. His skepticism comes in part from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's refusal to say how he wants to proceed in response to the veto proof House vote this week to sanction Turkey.
"President Trump may not even implement sanctions. So I think we all need to be pretty sober minded about the utility of sanctions right now. I think a lot of Republicans are very interested in supporting sanctions because it absolves of the responsibility to try to convince this president to act differently ," Murphy said.
Whether a smokescreen or not, even Wyoming Senator John Barrasso - who is also a Trump loyalist - is also fully on board with sanctions. He says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to be held in check, even if he seems to be trusted by Trump.
"I support sanctions, tough sanctions on Turkey, in an effort to get them to change their behavior, and specifically Erdo?an air to one has done things over the last dozen years that have not been in the best interest, I believe, of the United States or of NATO," Barrasso said.
Barrasso especially complains of the military hardware Turkey has been buying from Russia recently.
"He's taking Turkey in a direction that I think is the wrong direction. I think it is more favorable to Russia, to Syria, perhaps to Iran as well. And all of those things, I think are harmful to the best interest of the United States," Barrasso said.
But Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine was at a classified briefing with Barrasso this week. Kaine says many lawmakers asked for the administration's overall strategy in the region but they were never given a coherent or any type of answer.
"They haven't given us their idea about what a strategy should be. And so they need to do it and they need to do it quickly, because we're likely to take up this sanctions bill from a House or a Senate version of it fairly soon. And we don't have any guidance from the administration," Kaine said.
Still, Cheney and Barrasso are calling for Turkey to be reigned in.
"Turkey is a member of NATO, but they're sure not acting like a friend and ally. Russia is trying to break Turkey away," Barrasso said.
Whether Cheney, Barrasso - or the majority of Republicans for that matter - have any sway with Trump on foreign policy issues remains to be seen.