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Trump punches back at Senate GOP after vote rebuking his troop withdrawals from Syria, Afghanistan

Trump punches back at Senate GOP after vote rebuking his troop withdrawals from Syria, Afghanistan
President Trump pauses during a meeting with China’s Vice-Premier Liu He to discuss trade issues in the Oval Office on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (Olivier Douliery / TNS)

President Trump pushed back Friday against Senate Republicans who voted overwhelmingly the previous day for a measure that rebuked his rationale for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

In morning tweets, Trump said that the moves were consistent with a campaign promise to withdraw from “Endless Wars” that have resulted in “unlimited spending and death” and argued that under his leadership Islamic State had been all but destroyed.

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“It is now time to start coming home and, after many years, spending our money wisely,” Trump wrote. “Certain people must get smart!”

Trump’s tweets came a day after the vast majority of Senate Republicans backed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in voting for a measure that declared Islamic State’s presence and activity in both Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to the United States.

The measure, presented as an amendment to a greater Middle East policy bill, was a striking reprimand of the president from a GOP that has become increasingly comfortable expressing its opposition to Trump’s foreign policy through votes on the Senate floor.

That it was spearheaded by McConnell (R-Ky.), who often waits to cross Trump until there is overwhelming momentum in his conference, indicates how deeply the president’s announcements broke faith within the party.

Republicans spent years accusing Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, of pursuing capricious troop withdrawals and have refused to defend Trump’s efforts to do the same.

“I believe the threats remain. [Islamic State] and Al Qaeda have yet to be defeated, and American national security interests require continued commitment to our mission there,” McConnell said Thursday, before the 68-23 vote.

The measure divided Senate Democrats, with many arguing that rebuking Trump was not worth the cost of greenlighting endless war.

Trump’s tweets directed at fellow Republicans were the second time this week he has used to Twitter to take aim at allies.

On Wednesday, Trump lashed out at U.S. intelligence chiefs in his own administration a day after they testified to a Senate panel about worldwide threats to U.S. national security.

The testimony revealed significant differences between what the intelligence community has concluded and what the president claims about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the prospect for nuclear talks with North Korea, the strength of Islamic State and other security issues.

Trump later claimed that the media had fabricated a conflict and that the officials were “misquoted” by the media.

John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian write for the Washington Post.

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