'All Roads Lead to Russia': Democratic Senator Says Trump's Syria Pullout Just Another Putin Victory

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez said it's no coincidence that Russia continues getting foreign policy victories over the Trump administration.

Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told ABC News' This Week Sunday that President Donald Trump's troop withdrawal in Syria and accusations he "extorted" Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky left one clear winner: Russia.

He warned that the Kurdish people are under grave threat of "ethnic cleansing" in the wake of Trump's Syria pullout and he proposed sanctions on both Turkey and Russia. The senator said Trump "betrayed" America's Kurd allies and said the administration's purpose becomes clear when one analyzes why the Russians keep "winning."

"[Pulling out of Syria] is a betrayal of our foreign policy to the Russians, who are the big winners in this, and that's part of the problem here," Menendez said Sunday. "All roads lead to Russia with the president. And every time that there is an issue or a conflict, it seems that Russia ends up winning."

Menendez repeatedly cautioned against allowing ISIS to regroup in the region and rebuked Trump's recent anti-interventionist foreign policy claims. He predicted that Syria and other Middle East countries may soon embrace Russia over the U.S.

"When the president of the United States says we shouldn't worry about 7,000 miles away and those terrorists there, well on September 11 they traveled over 7,000 miles and ultimately did the worst attack in our nation's history... there's no guarantees about our interests and in fact Russia not only is going to have a major say about the future of Syria, everybody in the region is recalibrating and rethinking about what their alliances should be."

Menendez said he supported the House's 354-60 Wednesday vote condemning Trump's Syrian troop withdrawal. He noted the Kurds and other potential U.S. allies are being forced into the mindset of "when you finish using me you're going to let me die on the battlefield."

He accused U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of "liv[ing] in a parallel, alternate universe" for claiming Sunday that stability in the Middle East has increased. Menendez said Trump is hurting U.S. alliances with Israel, while giving support to Iran, Russia and Islamic State militants.

"What the president did is a betrayal of the Kurds who fought and died alongside of us in pursuit of ending the threat of ISIS, it's a betrayal of our ally, the state of Israel, where in fact Iran now has an easier facility to have its land bridge with sophisticated weapons to try to attack Israel."

Menendez said quid pro quo military aid allegations between Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani amount to "extortion" and represent "the worst of weaponizing U.S. foreign assistance." He noted that Trump's Ukraine dealings once again benefited Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

"He held back over $400 million in foreign assistance that bipartisan members of the Congress voted to give Ukraine to fight who? To fight Russia, once again, Russia is involved. The president unleashed this disaster and I think that there's going to be a real threat to the Kurds of ethnic cleansing," Menendez said.

Menendez declined to comment on whether he would potentially vote to convict Trump in the Senate should the House pass on articles of impeachment. The New Jersey senator helped lead much of the Trump-Russia collusion discussion in Washington in recent years and questioned the president's private conversation with Putin in July 2018. In response, Trump told Congress his discussions with Putin are "none of your business."

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Ranking member Senator Robert Menendez, the Democrat from New Jersey, speaks during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on July 25. He opened today's questioning about what President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed at their summit meeting last July. Alex Wong/Getty Images
'All Roads Lead to Russia': Democratic Senator Says Trump's Syria Pullout Just Another Putin Victory | U.S.