Fox News Host Grills Trump Aide: 'Name an Adviser' Who Recommended Syria Troop Withdrawal

Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade grilled a White House spokesperson on Monday morning over President Donald Trump's controversial move to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

Mercedes Schlapp, who works as the White House's director of strategic communications, appeared on the morning program to discuss Trump's recent decisions. When the subject of the president's sudden move to pull American forces from Syria and Afghanistan came up, Kilmeade pushed back hard.

"Can you name an adviser the president has that recommended he pull out 2,000 troops?" Kilmeade asked Schlapp.

Declining to answer the question directly, Schlapp said she was "not going to get into the internal discussions of how the decision was made." Trump reportedly made the call against the wishes of many top advisers, leading to the resignation of Secretary of Defense General Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group, or ISIS.

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President Donald Trump (left) speaks alongside Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (right) on December 6, 2017. Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade grilled a White House spokesperson on Monday morning over Trump’s controversial move to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

"At the end of the day, we all serve in the position of advising the president. It is up to the president to make the final decision," said Schlapp. Defending Trump's position, she pointed out that the president had long called for curbing U.S involvement in the conflict.

"We knew from the moment he started his campaign where he stood on Syria," she said, "and that was to ensure the defeat of the territorial caliphate in Syria—and the president and this administration and these troops have done that."

Kilmeade has been a vocal critic of Trump's decision, which was reportedly announced to the surprise of many in his own administration as well as U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East. Raising concerns for the security of the Kurds, who the U.S. has backed in the fight against ISIS, the Fox & Friends host asked if Trump had obtained guarantees from Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Ankara has long stood in opposition to the Kurds, who desire to build an independent country. The U.S. presence in Syria has been seen by analysts as a check on Turkey, preventing it from targeting the Kurds.

Saying the Kurds "have been doing our fighting," Kilmeade asked Schlapp if Trump was promised by Erdoğan that they "would not be destroyed."

"[Trump] sent a very strong message to the Turkish president," Schlapp said, adding that negotiations with Ankara were ongoing.

Trump's move to withdraw all troops for Syria and about 7,000 from Afghanistan has drawn significant backlash from Republicans and Democrats, as well as from France, the United Kingdom and the Kurds. Trump initially insisted that ISIS had been defeated, but allies involved in the Syria conflict and U.S. lawmakers pushed back, saying that assessment was inaccurate.

"I very deeply regret the decision made on Syria," French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday during a news conference. "To be allies is to fight shoulder to shoulder. It's the most important thing for a head of state and head of the military ... An ally should be dependable."

Last week, British Defense Secretary Tobias Ellwood said he "strongly" disagreed with Trump's move, arguing that "[ISIS] has morphed into other forms of extremism, and the threat is very much alive."

Doubling down on his decision, Trump wrote on Twitter Monday that Erdoğan had "very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria." He added that "Turkey is right 'next door.' Our troops are coming home!"

In a series of tweets, the president also argued that U.S. allies "take advantage of their friendship" with Washington. He also attacked Mattis, saying that the secretary didn't mind "substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world," and blasted McGurk as an "Obama appointee."

Fox News Host Grills Trump Aide: 'Name an Adviser' Who Recommended Syria Troop Withdrawal | World