Ordinarily, “Fox and Friends” may be a political haven for President Trump, but on Thursday co-host Brian Kilmeade took an unusual double-barrel shot at him.
After news broke that Trump defied his advisers and decided to pull 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria — arguing on Twitter that “we have defeated ISIS” in that country — Kilmeade slammed the president’s actions, calling them “totally irresponsible.”
The co-host said that “in a stunning and, I think, irresponsible move” Trump has “blindsided” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton, as well as the State Department, which he said is now “packing their bags.”
“Why have advisers?” he said, throwing up his hands.
Kilmeade also pushed back against Trump’s tweet, claiming that the Islamic State, which has unleashed devastation across Iraq and Syria, had been “defeated.”
“Nobody thinks ISIS is defeated,” Kilmeade said.
In fact, The Washington Post’s Liz Sly reported:
The U.S. military maintains a small force of around 2,000 troops in northeastern Syria, where they have been helping the Kurdish-led SDF battle the Islamic State. An offensive for the last sliver of territory controlled by the militants in southeastern Syria was launched in September, but the Islamic State has put up a tough fight, and the battle has progressed more slowly than expected.
U.S. military officials estimate there are still around 2,000 Islamic State fighters holding out in the area, around the town of Hajin, and that there could be many thousands more sympathizers and supporters preparing to regroup in cells elsewhere.
Bombings claimed by the Islamic State have been on the rise in recent months, including one Wednesday in Raqqa, the group’s former de facto capital. That attack came as Trump tweeted that the militants had been defeated and that U.S. troops would be pulled out.
Just moments earlier on “Fox and Friends,” Kilmeade had expressed skepticism about the situation along the U.S.-Mexico border.
When guest co-host Ed Henry made a claim that the border is more secure than it was under the Obama administration, Kilmeade resisted, saying: “I don’t know. I don’t know. It seems like chaos.”
Dissension from the “Fox and Friends” couch is rare but not unheard of. In October, co-hosts were discussing a political rally at which Trump mocked Christine Blasey Ford for her testimony regarding sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Kilmeade commented that the president “chose to blow it.”
And later that month, after one of Trump’s frequent claims that the news media is “the true enemy of the people,” Kilmeade scolded the president.
“I really wish he would lose that term. It doesn’t help anybody,” he said, exasperated. “It doesn’t push back on the media that he wants to push on.”