The Meltdown and the Controlled Burn

So this happened today:

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters Thursday that President Trump blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in part to force the government in Kyiv to investigate his political rivals, a startling acknowledgment after the president’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo.

Mulvaney defended the maneuver as “absolutely appropriate.”

Just now a teevee bobblehead described Mulvaney’s move as a “controlled burn.” A controlled burn, of course, is a fire deliberately set to achieve some land management purpose. In this case, the White House must have decided they aren’t going to get away with denying the quid pro quo any more, so they’ve gone on to the next excuse, that it was “appropriate.”

“Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it, that’s why we held up the money,” Mulvaney said, referring to a conspiracy theory that a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server was taken to Ukraine in 2016 to hide evidence that Kyiv, not Moscow, interfered in the last U.S. presidential election.

Mulvaney also said the funds had been withheld because European countries were being “really, really stingy when it comes to lethal aid” for Ukraine. But he characterized the decision to leverage congressionally approved aid as common practice, citing other instances in which the Trump administration has withheld aid to foreign countries and telling critics to “get over it.”

It may be that the Creature has been persuaded that people are figuring out the quid pro quo in spite of his vigorous denials. This week’s testimony to the House has clearly revealed Trump was running a “shadow” foreign policy through flunkies like Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland to pressure Ukraine for personal help.

But notice what else Mulvaney discussed — “the corruption related to the DNC server,” or the insane conspiracy theory that the real scandal surrounding the 2016 election was that the Democrats colluded with Ukraine to interfere with the election and pin the blame on Russia. There have been many reports that Trump is obsessed with the idea that the famous “missing” DNC server — which is not, in fact, missing — is hidden in Ukraine somewhere, and that a California-based cybersecurity company called Crowdstrike had something to do with hiding it and stirring up a fake story about Trump colluding with Russia. That Mulvaney took pains to get this nonsense into the controlled burn tells me his statement today was made on Trump’s orders. See also Josh Marshall.

In Syria news — Mike “The Weasel” Pence announced today that Turkey’s president Erdogan has agreed to a five-day cease fire in Syria. This is to allow Kurds to withdraw from the strip of Syrian territory that Turkey is annexing for its own purposes. Basically, Trump just gave Erdogan everything he wanted. The moron thinks he has fixed the problem.

In remarks this afternoon, Tump heaped praise on Erdogan and said that no sanctions on Turkey would be necessary. As Jason Easley wrote at Politics USA, “Trump gushed about how wonderful and strong his ‘friend’ Erdogan was in allowing the US to surrender and give Turkey everything that it wanted.”

The White House is saying the Kurds were in on the agreement; the Kurds say otherwise.

Finally, Mick Mulvaney announced that Trump has awarded next year’s G-7 summit of world leaders to his Miami-area Doral golf resort.

“Doral was far and away the best physical facility for this meeting,” Mulvaney said. He said that the administration examined 10 sites before choosing this one. Mulvaney quoted an anonymous site selection official who he said told him, “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.” Mulvaney did not say what other sites were vetted.

Of course he didn’t, since those sites don’t exist and the “anonymous site selection oficial” was Trump himself.

On any other news day I would have written about Trump’s meltdown during a meeting with Nancy Pelosi yesterday. But you know what happened.

Thoughts on Last Night’s Debate

My biggest gripe is that we’re past the point at which so many candidates should be allowed to crowd the stage. While last night’s debate wasn’t nearly the hot mess that the earlier one hosted by CNN was — leaving out Jake Tapper was a huge help — it still only allowed for sound bite responses, not substantive debate. I long for the day that Liz Warren will be allowed time to explain the difference between “cost” and “taxes.” And the better-than-Jake-Tapper moderators still managed to be annoying by asking about Ellen Degeneres but not climate change or our inhumane immigration policies.

Joe Biden is still leading in many national polls, but you wouldn’t have known that from the debate. Clearly, the second-tier candates were focused on knocking down Warren, and they left Biden alone. IMO Joe seemed a tad unfocused, as he usually does, and in his closing remarks he was still blathering about reaching across the aisle. But the worst news for him wasn’t in the debate. His fundraising hasn’t been going well, and he’s been spending more than he’s been taking in. So he has much less cash on hand than many other candidates as we approach the primary elections.

I thought Bernie Sanders had a good night. He was mentally sharp and energetic; the same old Bernie. All of the comments I’ve read put Sanders in the “winner” column.

I feel a bit mixed about Liz Warren. Most commenters praised her performance, but IMO she can’t keep putting off the raising-taxes-to-pay-for-health-care question forever. Here’s how Bernie handled it:

SANDERS: Well, as somebody who wrote the damn bill, as I said, let’s be clear. Under the Medicare for all bill that I wrote, premiums are gone. Co-payments are gone. Deductibles are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone. We’re going to do better than the Canadians do, and that is what they have managed to do.

At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills. But I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They’re going to go up significantly for the wealthy. And for virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less — substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

Was that so hard?

The criteria will be higher for joining the November debate, but eight candidates already have met them, and four more could possibly meet them. So we may end up with the same gang of 12 in November. This is unacceptable. At the very least, the Dems should seriously consider having the six top polling candidates debate one night and the remainder another night.

Who do I really not want to see any more? Number one in my list is Tulsi Gabbard. She has not yet secured a spot for the November debate, and I don’t think she helped herself last night with voters who weren’t already in the tank for her. Zack Beauchamp wrote at Vox:

First, she described the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, which is controlled by America’s Kurdish allies, thusly: “the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war we’ve been waging in Syria.”

The US is not waging a war of regime change in Syria (as Biden pointed out later in the debate). American troops are in northern Syria assisting Kurdish forces in combating the ISIS presence in the country. The reason Turkey invaded the Kurdish-held territory is that it sees the Kurds as terrorists and doesn’t want them to have a quasi-state on its border. And it was able to launch the invasion because President Donald Trump pulled out US troops.

But Gabbard’s comment wasn’t a one-off error. Again and again, Gabbard called for an end to the “regime war in Syria,” which is simply not what’s happening there. She bizarrely blamed the “regime change war” for the Syrian refugee crisis, instead of the murderous regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has indiscriminately attacked populated areas.

When Buttigieg challenged her shaky analysis, saying that “the slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal,” she accused him of supporting “endless war.” His response was succinct and devastating: “You can put an end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump’s policy, as you’re doing.”

She also complained that the impeachment effort is being driven by “hyperpartisan interests” and that news media treat her unfairly:

… the New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime change war. Just two days ago, the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears.

To which the New York Times replied,

The Times article Ms. Gabbard referenced, however, notes that the congresswoman is a frequent topic of Russian state news media; there is no inference that she is a Russian asset. Ms. Gabbard also met with the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad,in January 2017, and has said in the past that the dictator is “not the enemy of the United States.” In August, on CNN, Ms. Gabbard called Mr. Assad a “brutal dictator.”

Last week Gabbard was whining that the completely transparent and IMO too lenient debate inclusion criteria were not transparent enough and that the DNC was rigging the nomination process against her. I’m not fan of the DNC, but seems to me they’ve been bending over backward to avoid an appearance of favoritism this time. Gabbard is nothing but a five-alarm flake.

The other candidate I wish would go away — but who has already qualified for the November debate — is Tom Steyer. He simply brings nothing to the table except a bunch of his own money. For example —

STEYER: As a result of taking away the rights of working people and organized labor, people haven’t had a raise — 90 percent of Americans have not had a raise for 40 years. If you took the minimum wage from 1980 and just adjusted it for inflation, you get $11 bucks. It’s $7.25. If you included the productivity gains of American workers, it would be over $20 bucks.

There’s something wrong here, and that is that the corporations have bought our government. Our government has failed. That’s why I’m running for president, because we’re not going to get any of the policies that everybody on this stage wants — health care, education, Green New Deal, or a living wage…

BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.

STEYER: … unless we break the power of these corporations.

I agree with that, but he says this while standing on the same stage with Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren, both of whom have been fighting that fight for years now. This is like Süssmayr talking over Mozart. Why do we need Steyer? Among those not yet qualified for November, along with Gabbard, are Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Julián Castro. While I’m not personally a supporter of any of those three, I’d rather see any of them in the November debate instead of Steyer.

Andrew Yang, on the other hand, may not have a prayer at the nomination but he brings something to the conversation. At the very least, he’s gotten some Very Serious People to talk about universal basic income. He’s qualified for the November debate, and I’m okay with that.

Many commenters are putting Pete Buttigieg in the “winners” column today, but he annoyed me with his comments about Medicare for All. He’s clearly decided to invade Biden’s space and go for the “moderate” vote.

Kamala Harris annoyed me when she needled Warren for not supporting her proposal to get Trump’s twitter account closed. This seemed a picayune thing to argue about. And, anyway, Trump’s twitter account can be revealing, in a bleak sort of way. It’s the only nearly transparent thing about his administration; it’s where the blackness of his id and the blankness of his head are openly on display.

Klobuchar seemed to me to be having a good night, although I don’t remember what she said. The remainder of the field, IMO, neither helped nor hurt themselves.

Democratic Debate Open Thread

CNN is the host again. CNN has been the worst so far; see David Dayen’s review of the hot mess of a debate CNN hosted in July. And there will be more bodies on the stage this time than there were in July. I have little hope this won’t be another hot mess. But we’ll see.

The twelve participants will be Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Gabbard, Harris, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Steyer (first appearance), Warren, and Yang.

My New Book

The book goes on sale November 12. I got my advance copies yesterday.

It has been just over three years since I first started writing this thing. It’s almost unreal to me that it’s really done. And the book got some great endorsements from some great Zen people.

Purchase from an independent bookseller here.

Purchase from the publisher here.

Purchase from Amazon here.

Also: I will be watching the debate tonight and providing a place for a comment thread.

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, and Other News

I’m sorry I have no information about the photo; I found it on this page. The photo is illustrating a passage on the Lakota Sioux, so maybe the people in the photo are Lakota.

Somebody on social media said that he would observe Columbus Day, thank you very much. Someone responded, What do you do to “observe” Columbus Day? Get lost in a grocery store looking for spices?

On to Stuff to Read — Josh Marshall has a good synopsis of the Trump-Ukraine-Russia entanglement that neatly explains all the nonsense going on right now.

Jackson Diehl points out that all of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives have fallen apart in just over a month — “maximum pressure” on Iran, a treaty with the Taliban, North Korean denuclearization, the victory over ISIS. The exceptions are things that had already fallen apart, such as ousting the government of Venezuela, which Trump screwed up last spring, and peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which never went anywhere.  See also The Demolition of U.S. Diplomacy: Not Since Joe McCarthy Has the State Department Suffered Such a Devastating Blow by William Burns in Foreign Affairs.

Fiona Hill, the former senior director for Russia at the National Security Council, is testifying right now behind closed doors to the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida Man) attempted to crash the party, saying that as a member of the Judiciary Committee he is automatically entitled to be in on anything touching on impeachment. He was ejected. See Charles Pierce, Matt Gaetz Thinks His Audience Is as Big a Box of Rocks as He Is.

The Unraveling

The situation in Syria seems to be unraveling quickly, and I can’t say I understand it all. Here is something just published at WaPo:

Syrian government troops began moving into towns near the Turkish border Sunday night under a deal struck with Syrian Kurds, following a chaotic day that saw the unraveling of the U.S. mission in northeastern Syria.

Hundreds of Islamic State family members escaped a detention camp after Turkish shellfire hit the area, U.S. troops pulled out from another base and Turkish-backed forces consolidated their hold over a vital highway, cutting the main U.S. supply route into Syria.

By the time Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper appeared on Face the Nation to announce that President Trump had ordered the final withdrawal of the 1,000 U.S. troops in northeastern Syria, it was already clear that the U.S. presence had become unsustainable, U.S. officials said.

The announcement by the Syrian Democratic Forces that they had reached an agreement with the Iranian and Russian-backed government of President Bashar al-Assad further undermined the prospect of any continued U.S. presence in the country. The deal brings forces loyal to Assad back into towns and cities that have been under Kurdish control for seven years.

It sounds as if everything that had been accomplished since about 2011 has been undone in a week, thanks to Trump’s cowardice and stupidity.

I understand the remaining U.S. troops had to be withdrawn quickly because they were in real danger from the Turkish assault. Trump, of course, is still making excuses. Last night he was interviewed by whackjob Jean Pirro on Fox News:

The interview, which aired around 9:30 p.m. ET on Fox News, featured the president saying the Kurds — Syria’s defensive fighters — have “some very good people and some very bad people” and “maybe they’ll get somebody else to go in and fight with them… but we want to get out of the endless wars.”

“It’s 7,000 miles away from the United States. I want to protect our borders,” Mr. Trump told Pirro. “We defeated 100% of the ISIS caliphate … we’re not going to stay in these areas forever.”

He added that if Turkey “does something out of line,” he will take action.

“It’s like some people go to lunch. They [Turkey] fight with the Kurds, it’s what [Turkey] does,” he said. “We spend a lot of money on the Kurds… but it’s time for us to go home.”

What he really meant to say was that it’s time to send another 1,800 troops to Saudi Arabia, which the Pentagon announced yesterday. Trump is still saying that he “might” slap some sanctions on Turkey if it gets out of line.

Be sure to read 12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia. in the New York Times.

The Russian Air Force has repeatedly bombed hospitals in Syria in order to crush the last pockets of resistance to President Bashar al-Assad, according to an investigation by The New York Times.

An analysis of previously unpublished Russian Air Force radio recordings, plane spotter logs and witness accounts allowed The Times to trace bombings of four hospitals in just 12 hours in May and tie Russian pilots to each one.

The 12-hour period beginning on May 5 represents a small slice of the air war in Syria, but it is a microcosm of Russia’s four-year military intervention in Syria’s civil war. A new front in the conflict opened this week, when Turkish forces crossed the border as part of a campaign against a Kurdish-led militia.

Trump the Loser

Trump must have heard he’s losing support of farmers.

This is Trumpspeak for um, this is not going as I planned. Word is that the Chinese have tentatively agreed to buy between $40 billion to $50 billion in U.S. agricultural goods, although exactly when isn’t clear. That’s great, but it’s not going to erase the damage done to the U.S. farm sector.

Basically, Trump is announcing that he’s put out some of his own fire. But there’s nothing in writing yet. According to the Financial Times,

In return for a series of modest concessions, most of which had been offered by President Xi Jinping’s administration in previous negotiating rounds, Donald Trump agreed to suspend another set of tariff increases originally scheduled to take effect on October 15.

The Financial Times article goes on to say that the Chinese believe they have the upper hand, especially now that Trump is only a year away from facing re-election.

Following up yesterday’s post — in addition to all the hits Trump took before noon Friday, later in the day Trump piled up more: One, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the national emergency declaration to build a border wall was unlawful.

Today, a Texas federal court ruled that President Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency along the Southern border violated federal law. The court declared that the president’s proclamation is invalid because it illegally sought to override Congress’s decision to not fund further border wall construction. The court invited the plaintiffs, El Paso County, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Right to propose terms for an injunction that would prevent the government from using funds to build border barriers that Congress specifically refused to authorize.

In addition,  two federal courts blocked implementation of a Trump administration rule that would make it more difficult for immigrants who rely on public assistance to obtain legal status.

Trump Is Having a Bad Day

And it’s not even noon:

This morning a federal appeals court has agreed with a federal district court that Congress must have access to Trump’s financial records, including his tax returns. I believe there’s no where else for Trump to go except to SCOTUS. And I’d be willing to bet money that SCOTUS won’t touch this.

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch showed up this morning to testify to the House, in spite of attempts by the State Department, which still employes her, to block her. She is testifying behind closed doors, but she’s testifying. One suspects she is pissed.

Gordon Sondland, the Trump donor and ambassador to the EU who is up to his eyebrows in the Ukraine scandal, also has agreed to testify next week in spite of being ordered not to. One suspects he is cutting his losses.

Trump has yet to tweet about these developments, but he did tweet about the Kurds again. He must be getting hell from a lot of people.

The choice, moron, was not to greenlight a Turkish invasion of Kurdish territory. And what excuses will you have when all those ISIS fighters are set free? Neocon Max Boot is so put out with Trump that he’s defending Barack Obama.

Two scholars of the Middle East, Michael Doran and Michael A. Reynolds, suggested in the Wall Street Journal that the fault was really President Barack Obama’s for aligning with the Kurds in 2016 — despite the success of that strategy and the lack of any realistic alternatives.

See also New revelations about Trump test Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy.

In the past 24 hours alone, The Washington Post reported that Trump sought to enlist then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the fall of 2017 to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani to help stop the prosecution of a Turkish Iranian gold trader represented by the former New York mayor and current Trump lawyer, according to people with knowledge of the request.

The Financial Times reported that Michael Pillsbury, one of Trump’s China advisers, said he had received information on Hunter Biden during a visit to Beijing shortly after Trump called on China to investigate the former vice president’s son. Pillsbury later offered a conflicting account.

And then there were the two Guiliani associates who were arrested trying to leave the country. They’ve been indicted for violating campaign finance laws and also appear to be mixed up in the Ukraine mess.

In solely focusing on Ukraine, Democrats could miss the opportunity to build a stronger case against the president — one that has the potential to sway Senate Republicans who will decide whether to convict Trump if the House votes to impeach.

“We’re basically getting like three new impeachable offenses a day, so it suggests that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg on what’s happening,” said Daniel Pfeiffer, a former Obama strategist who hosts “Pod Save America” and has been pushing Democrats to expand their probes.

It seems to me that a many things are suddenly unraveling very fast.

Gassing Our Own People II

There are reports that the Turkish assault of Syria has already killed more than 100 Kurdish fighters. The Trump-sanctioned genocide has begun. And, of course, by now we’ve all heard Trump’s excuse for why we don’t owe the Kurds anything:

The Kurds are fighting for their land, just so you understand. They’re fighting for their land and as someone wrote in a very, very powerful article today: They didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example… but they’re there to help us with their land. And that’s a different thing. And in addition that, we’ve spent tremendous amounts of money on helping the Kurds, in terms of ammunition, in terms of weapons, in terms of money, in terms of pay. With all of that being said, we like the Kurds.

I take it slaughtering Kurds is not something Trump considers to be off limits, as I see he is taking no steps to obliterate the economy of Turkey.

But I was thinking this morning of how we’ve come full circle, and how an attack on the Kurds was used as an excuse to start our endless Middle Eastern wars.

You might remember that in the period before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, right-wing hacks on the cable politics talk shows babbled incessantly that Saddam gassed his own people! G.W. Bush brought it up frequently in his own arguments for the invasion. Saddam gassed his own people! He’s thumbing his nose at the world!

And you might remember that the “his own people” Saddam Hussein gassed were Kurds living in Iraq.

I think a lot of Americans got the impression that the gassing was an ongoing thing, and we had to ride to the rescue. But the gassing had occurred many years earlier, mostly during the Reagan Administration. The gassing of the Kurds began in 1987 and continued into 1989. The worst episode was the massacre at Halabja on 16 March 1988. An estimated 5,000 people, mostly women and children, were killed by poison gas dropped from Iraqi jets.

And the Reagan Administration was just fine with this. In fact, the Reagan Administration fabricated evidence to argue that the gas had been dropped by Iran, not Iraq. Iran was our enemy at the time; Saddam Hussein was considered an ally. I wrote an article about this for Democratic Underground back in 2003.

I got one thing wrong in the DU article; Reagan didn’t veto the The Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988, but his Administration lobbied so hard against it that it failed. The bill, sponsored by senators Claiborne Pell, Jesse Helms, Christopher S. Bond, Wendell H. Ford, Al Gore, Carl Levin, Richard G. Lugar and William Proxmire — almost all Republicans, you might note — would have sanctioned the hell out of Iraq, and Reagan (or whoever was running things in the face of Reagan’s creeping dementia) wasn’t having it. We needed Sadam Hussein on our side, The Reaganites thought. Note that one of those Reaganites was Gen. Colin Powell, who served as National Security Adviser from 1987 to 1989.

Protecting Saddam Hussein was the official policy of the George H.W. Bush Administration as well, until Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait. Some said (under their breath) at the time that Saddam had come to believe the U.S. would sign off on anything he did.

See also tthe original Gassing Our Own People post from The Mahablog archives, June 26, 2006.

And some of you will remember the glorious episode that occurred after the Persian Gulf War, in which President Bush I encouraged the Kurds to rebel against Saddam Hussein and then stood by while Saddam crushed the rebellion, ruthlessly. I believe some of the mass graves found in Iraq after the 2003 invasion — the ones that didn’t date to the Iran-Iraq War or the Persian Gulf War — held the bodies of Kurdish rebels.

In 2003, before the invasion, I remembered Halabja, and I remembered the crushed Kurdish rebellion. The righties who were fired up to to go war had never heard of these things before; they seemed to think the Kurds were still being gassed, and we had to invade quickly to rescue them. And after the invasion, whenever troops found a mass grave of Kurdish rebels, the righties would dance about and yell See? We told you Saddam was evil. But the mass graves were no surprise. The righties were always oblivious to the rest of the story, and wouldn’t listen, and wouldn’t believe us if they did listen.

But it strikes me now that all of the trouble surrounding Iraq going back 20 years resulted from Republican presidents being soft with a ruthless dictator. Appeasing, even. It’s a damn shame the Dems didn’t push that point through the Noise Machine years ago, because not doing so allowed the next generation of soft little Republican fatasses to portray themselves as hardened he-men warriors, even as they call Democrats “weak” and swift-boat any real warriors who dare oppose them.

And nothing seems to change. Well, one thing has sorta changed. A great many prominent Republicans, including many serving in the Senate, are livid about Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds. They still aren’t supporting impeachment, but they are breaking with him regarding Turkey and Syria. Well, sorta. They are calculating this won’t come at a political cost.

 “The litmus test for Trump is the personal politics,” a GOP Senate aide told Power Up of the way their boss views handling differences with the president. “People who want to come out against Access Hollywood, or tweets about the Squad, or impeachment — that is the test. Not policy. So you can break with [Trump] on policy if it’s a position on principle, you just can’t break with him on the little stuff he cares about.”

How pathetic is that?

It should be noted that senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen have introduced a bill to impose financial penalties on Turkey’s political and military leaders, including Trump’s buddy President Erdogan, since Mr. Great and Unmatched Wisdom isn’t likely to do anything about it.

The bill introduced on Wednesday, then, aims to compel Turkey to end its airstrikes and ground invasion. Graham’s spokesperson Kevin Bishop told me he’s unsure if there will be other similar efforts pushed in the Senate, but he “expect[s] our bill will have bipartisan, bicameral support.” A Senate Democratic aide, however, told me this was the main effort in that chamber.

Bishop also noted the legislation wasn’t written in conjunction with the White House, but it seems to have the president’s support anyway.

“I do agree on sanctions, but I actually think much tougher than sanctions if he doesn’t do it in as humane a way as possible,” the president told reporters on Wednesday when asked about Graham’s sanctions legislation. Trump doubled down on that position Thursday, tweeting “I say hit Turkey very hard financially & with sanctions if they don’t play by the rules! I am watching closely.”

And if thousands of ISIS fighters escape because the Kurds aren’t able to guard them, that won’t be a problem, says Great and Unmatched.

Asked whether he was concerned about ISIS fighters fleeing Kurdish custody and becoming a threat elsewhere, Trump said during a press conference on Wednesday: “Well they’re going to be escaping to Europe. That’s where they want to go, they want to go back to their homes.”