Former CIA Officer Labels 'America First' Policy a 'Scam' As Russian Troops Take Control of Syrian Airbase

A conservative critic of Donald Trump has labelled the president's America First policy "a scam" after Russian troops took control of a Syrian airbase previously controlled by the United States.

Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer turned Republican policy chief, slammed Trump as the ongoing consequences from America's hasty retreat from northern Syria continue to be felt.

Russian forces touched down in the airbase in the Syrian city of Qamishli on Thursday and played up their takeover as camera crews captured troops jumping out of helicopters and setting up a perimeter around the base.

The airfield, which lies miles away from the Turkish border, will now expand Russia's capabilities of patrolling the region and is the same one that saw American forces pelted with rocks and vegetables by locals as they retreated.

McMullin, who also ran as an independent presidential candidate in 2016, said that this Russian takeover was the latest evidence of Trump's policy betrayals.

"What could be a clearer example of Trump's 'America First' scam than his turning over key U.S. military bases to Russian troops?" he said on Twitter.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment on McMullin's remarks.

What could be a clearer example of Trump’s “America First” scam than his turning over key U.S. military bases to Russian troops?

— Evan McMullin 🇺🇸 (@EvanMcMullin) November 18, 2019

The 43-year-old, who secured third place behind Trump and Hillary Clinton in his home state of Utah in 2016, has been a consistent critic of Trump's policies since turning his hand to politics. Following his unsuccessful presidential bid, he founded Stand Up Republic alongside his running mate, Mindy Finn, in 2017.

The non-partisan organization will "seek to organize and lead Americans in the defense of the fundamental principles upon which this nation was founded," and it intends to "build and organize a grassroots movement in defense of liberty, equality, and truth in America," according to documents on its website.

It was established as a direct result of Trump's victory in the presidential election, McMullin told the Washington Post shortly after it was set up.

"We want to be a watchdog of the administration," he said, stating that Trump's invention of "alternative facts" was dangerous to the state of the nation.

"Undermining truth is a typical authoritarian tactic. It is incredibly dangerous," he said. If truth is up for debate, then leaders "cannot be held accountable," he added.

"Accountability depends on Americans' ability to know the truth. Undermining truth is a way to undermine other sources of information. If they've done that, they can provide their own narrative."

His organization supports the ongoing impeachment inquiries into Trump.

Evan McMullin
Evan McMullin talks to students at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute on November 2, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah, during his 2016 presidential run. Getty