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Senator Dick Durbin: 'Autocrats Have Trump Enthralled'

On Sunday's Meet the Press, Senator Dick Durbin hit hard at Trump for firing General Mattis while toadying to Erdogan and Putin.
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Senator Dick Durbin is yet another Democrat who is visibly shaken by General James Mattis' departure as Secretary of Defense, as he explained on Meet the Press Sunday.

"I was one of many senators who privately sat down with General Mattis and said, 'Please, stay. Stay as long as you possibly can. We desperately need your mature voice, your patriotism, in the room, when this president's making life-or-death decisions about national security,'" Durbin told Chuck Todd. "But it obviously reached a breaking point. I thank him for his years of service in the Marines and, certainly, at the Department of Defense."

He added, "It breaks my heart that he's going to step aside. We counted on him to be there and to stop this president from his worst impulse."

(Aside: I'm not sure anyone could stop Trump from his worst impulse. He is a narcissist, and only listens to those who flatter him.)

After he was asked how he reconciles his objection to what Trump did with his own opposition to having a presence in Syria or overusing the 17-year old AUMF, Durbin tried to explain the nuance.

"Well, I can tell you, it was 17 years ago when 23 of us, 22 Democrats, one Republican, voted against the invasion of Iraq for so-called weapons of mass destruction, which never existed," he explained. "I voted, at the same period of time, with virtually every other senator, to invade Afghanistan and go after the sources of the attack on 9/11. Little did I know that I was voting for the longest war in the history of the United States and that that vote would be used as a rationalization for us to move into Syria, Africa, and places I never could’ve envisioned."

Durbin was clear that he believes that Congress should have been making the decisions about how this authorization was stretched into new places. "The American people should have been making these decisions along the way," he said.

Turning to Turkish President Erdogan and Trump's call with him, Durbin was blunt.

"I have to tell you that, whether he's talking to Vladimir Putin or Erdogan, these autocrats have him enthralled," he said.. "And after a conversation, he'll make snap judgements and avoid the best advice that he could from people like General Mattis."

" That, to me, is the height of irresponsibility," he added.

Indeed.

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