President Obama Calls Hillary Clinton and Other Lawmakers’ Criticism ‘Horse Manure’

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

Hillary Clinton and congressmen alike have called on Obama to arm Syria’s rebels. But the president fumed at lawmakers in a private meeting for suggesting he should’ve done more.

President Obama got angry at lawmakers who suggested in a private meeting that he should have armed the Syrian rebels, calling the criticism “horseshit.”

The argument that America should have done more in Syria, made for years by foreign policy leaders in both parties and several members of Obama’s senior national security team, was brought back to the fore this past weekend. Obama and Hillary Clinton gave dueling interviews in which they publicly split on whether the security and humanitarian catastrophe in Syria could have been avoided if the United States had played a larger role. Obama’s outburst on July 31, one week prior, reveals the criticism was already getting to him, even before the White House tried to deflect Clinton’s remarks as pre-presidential political posturing.

Just before the congressional recess, President Obama invited over a dozen Senate and House leaders from both parties to the White House to talk about foreign policy. According to two lawmakers inside the meeting, Obama became visibly agitated when confronted by bipartisan criticism of the White House’s policy of slow-rolling moderate Syrian rebels’ repeated requests for arms to fight the Assad regime and ISIS.

According to one of the lawmakers, Sen. Bob Corker asked the president a long question that included sharp criticisms of President Obama’s handling of a number of foreign policy issues—including Syria, ISIS, Russia, and Ukraine. Obama answered Corker at length. Then, the president defended his administration’s actions on Syria, saying that the notion that many have put forth regarding arming the rebels earlier would have led to better outcomes in Syria was “horseshit.”

White House officials confirmed the charged exchange between Obama and Corker but declined to confirm that Obama used the expletive. The interaction between Obama and Corker was a tense moment in the otherwise uneventful meeting.

Corker’s office declined to comment for this story. But days after the White House meeting, Corker wrote a blistering op-ed for The Washington Post criticizing Obama’s handling of foreign policy. “Today, after three years of bold rhetoric divorced from reality, 170,000 Syrians are dead, and we are not innocent bystanders. The president encouraged the opposition to swallow deadly risks, then left them mostly hanging,” the senator wrote. “Extremist groups from Syria have surged into Iraq, seizing key territory and resources, and are threatening to completely undo the progress of years of U.S. sacrifice.”

Top Democratic lawmakers agreed with Corker and Clinton that doing more to support the moderate rebels would have at least had a chance of averting or mitigating the current crisis, which has now spread to large parts of Iraq as ISIS expands its newly declared Caliphate.

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Source: The Daily Beast | Josh Rogin

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