(CNSNews.com) – Turkey was planning to attack Syria whether U.S. troops were there or not, so President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria was not a green light to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to advance on Syria, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News on Thursday.
Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are meeting with Erdogan today to discuss a ceasefire.
During an interview with “America’s Newsroom,” Gidley accused the media of lying about the president greenlighting Erdogan to attack Syria.
“The media for so long has been lying about another topic, and it was Turkey saying that we had green lighted this advance by Turkey and President Erdogan. We clearly did not. The letter was released as well. Everyone has seen what President Trump warned President Erdogan about and said he would work to cripple their economy if they move forward with this and don't meet the conditions set, and of course, that is where we are today - crippling sanctions on Turkey,” Gidley said.
Erdogan is scheduled to visit the White House in November. When asked whether Erdogan has accepted the invitation, Gidley said, “If he hasn’t I’m not aware of that.”
“On the green light here, if you take 1,000 U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria it clearly has given a lot of people the impression that's the green light that Erdogan needed, cause that buffer area is removed of U.S. forces from the area. Can't you see how that impression would be given in this operation?” Fox News host Bill Hemmer asked.
“Well yeah, if that were the truth, but that's not the truth. The fact is we were told by President Erdogan he was going to move on the Kurds. Turkey is a NATO ally. We also have allies in the Kurds. Let's be clear about what happened here. The president was faced with a serious choice - these are the decisions that this man has to make every day - with 26, 28 troops standing between Turkey, an advancing force, into Syria to attack the Kurds,” Gidley said.
"If Donald Trump hadn't made the decision to pull those people out of the crossfire and those 28 people had died, we’d have a conversation that Donald Trump made a horrific decision when Erdogan warned him he was going in, and 28 people are now dead. The fact is the Democrats in this instance only want to attack the president because his name is Donald Trump. If this were any other president - President Smith – they’d be praising it as protecting the American soldiers in harm’s way,” he said.
“Let’s be clear: This attack was going to happen. Donald Trump made the prudent decision based on the information given by his generals and experts in the Middle East to get those people out of the way to protect their lives. He did that, and they will live to fight another day,” Gidley said.
Fox News host Sandra Smith pointed out that Republicans joined Democrats in passing a House resolution to condemn the president’s decision to pull U.S. troops.
Gidley called it “just another move by a Democrat Congress and some of the Republicans who want to continue these types of aggressive wars and our occupation in areas as a peacekeeping force, a police force if you will.”
“Donald Trump ran on an issue to bring people home and to get our soldiers out of harm's way. He won on that issue, and now surprisingly enough only in D.C. would it be shocking that a politician who runs on an issue and actually moves to implement that issue would surprise them,” he said.
“This is what he wants to do to bring our soldiers home, to stop spending billions of dollars wasting time and wasting treasure, wasting lives. That's what he doesn't want to have happen here and why he made the decision, but let's be clear. He has a force there. So we can move back in if need be. This is one decision by Erdogan to attack the Kurds, and we just simply got out of the middle of that fight. We only had 28 people there to protect those lives and he made the right choice,” Gidley said.
Asked to explain what happened Wednesday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top House Democrats stormed out of a White House meeting on Syria, Gidley said, “I have seen Nancy Pelosi act this way now multiple times in multiple meetings.
“She takes the opportunity when she is invited to the White House to have a simple conversation, but serious ones about what we're doing at our southern border, for example, what we're doing in Syria, for example. She takes that opportunity to stand up and actually dictate or try to, to the president of the United States, to push her agenda, to begin to escalate and hijack the meeting to simply insult the president of the United States,” he said.
Gidley said Trump “fought back, and he’s done it time and time again.”
“When we were talking about the southern border she refused to listen to the briefings by the men and women who put their lives on the line every day. She did it again yesterday with four star generals in the room telling her exactly the strategy of what was going on. She refused to hear it, stood up, yelled at the president, and then stormed out,” he said.
“She has done this time and time again. I was just outside. I heard this activity the whole time, and I will say when she actually left the room, came out and got her phone she was extremely disrespectful to our staff calling them incompetent and she does that repeatedly as well,” Gidley added.
Pelosi “has shown kind of what she wants to do and that's absolutely nothing,” he said.
“She comes back the other day after Congress had a six-week vacation in the summer. They come back for a couple of days then leave for another two weeks. That warrants more vacation. She comes back to the microphones and says we really have no agenda. We're focusing on impeachment, and it’s the American people that suffer,” Gidley said.
“She isn't talking about USMCA, not in any real serious capacity. She pays a little lip service to it. She hasn’t talked about closing the border. She doesn't talk about military movements in Syria with any seriousness. All she wants to do is try and attack the president. She has lied about this process from the beginning,” he said.
“Her and Adam Schiff both continue to lie to the American people and to Congress about what's going on because the president has done nothing wrong, but they continue to move forward with impeachment, because she has completely lost control of her caucus. It is now ruled by the radicals and that's where we sit today,” Gidley said.
“What do you think of the vote that happened in the House yesterday 354 to 60 condemning the move into Turkey, and you may see a similar vote in the Senate? Hogan, these are Republicans rebuking a Republican president,” Hemmer asked.
“Many of them are, but they didn't get elected to be the president of the united States. Donald Trump did, and he got elected on this agenda. Listen, the president is very prudent in these methods and what he is doing. Barack Obama got out of Iraq and just cleared the decks for ISIS to become a major issue. He called them the JV team, so to hear Democrats lecture us on mistakes in the Middle East is comical,” Gidley said.
“They are really the cause of why we were there for so long in the first place. This president made a prudent decision to protect our troops in harm's way, but we are still in the region. We will protect U.S. assets overseas and we'll protect the American people at all costs all of the time,” he said.