In his unusually fiery criticism of Trump, Robertson said he was “appalled” by the president’s decision, implying it was a betrayal to Kurdish allies. Robertson went on to invoke the Armenian genocide, in which the Turkish government killed thousands of Armenian Christians amid World War I and the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated last year in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
“The president, who allowed Khashoggi to be cut into pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks,” Robertson said. He additionally blasted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — with whom Trump has a friendly rapport — as a “thug” and a “dictator.”
“Now our government is saying you have a free hand to go into Syria, take out the democratic forces and take out the Kurds,” Robertson said.
U.S. and Kurdish forces have fought side by side in northern Syria for five years in an effort to extinguish the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate.
In tweets Tuesday, Trump continued to defend his decision, denying that the move was tantamount to abandoning U.S. allies.
Trump has defended his Monday decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the Syria-Turkey border, even after it was met with heavy criticism from Democrats and staunch Republican allies, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
Graham called the move a “shot in the arm to the bad guys,” while Toomey raised concerns that the withdrawal would hurt the United States’ credibility worldwide.
Trump typically receives little, if any, pushback from his own party members and loyal supporters, including Robertson. The conservative Christian TV personality (and onetime GOP presidential candidate) notably stood by Trump when his lewd comments about sexually assaulting women captured during a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape were made public amid the 2016 presidential campaign.
Robertson dismissed Trump’s comments as “macho” talk and even compared the then-candidate to a phoenix. Other evangelical Christian leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr. and James Dobson similarly remained steady in their support of Trump at the time — as did most white evangelicals voters, 81 percent of whom backed Trump in 2016.
As of Monday, Falwell appeared to be one of Trump’s few die-hard supporters who approved of the president’s decision in Syria, telling the Associated Press it was simply Trump following through on a promise to keep U.S. soldiers out of “endless wars.”