January 7, 2019

So now we have a completely different version of what Trump said would happen in Syria just a few weeks ago. Morning Joe looked at the latest from John Bolton:

"Those were some of President Trump's conflicting statements that began two and a half weeks ago when he tweeted that ISIS in Syria has been, quote, defeated and he was ordering the immediate withdrawal from the country," Mika Scarborough said.

"But it turns out that quick pull-out may not be happening at all. Carol Lee is traveling with national security adviser John Bolton."

"The U.S. may not withdrawing all troops, so it won't be the complete withdrawal that he had promised and it will be the U.S.. who is going to finish the job in Syria, not Turkey. John Bolton is here trying to reassure allies like Israel about the president's withdrawal plans. In doing so, he's outlining a very different policy than the one the president put forward last month. He told us yesterday that no U.S. troops are leaving northern Syria until Turkey can guarantee it won't then go in and attack the Kurds, who have been a critical ally for the U.S. in the fight against ISIS," Lee said.

"He also told us, quote, there are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal. And he said that the U.S. may leave some troops in southern Syria as a deterrent to Iran. President Trump responding to this yesterday said quick withdrawal, which is not true, and he said that the U.S. is going to stay in Syria until ISIS is gone, which is a shift from what he said last month. Now, Bolton seems to have accomplished his goals in reassuring Israeli officials, but he flies today to Turkey where frankly, he faces a much tougher audience from President Erdogan, who has shown no signs of wanting to agree to the terms that Bolton has presented so far on this trip."

"John Bolton also addressed a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal telling reporters, quote, this is a cause-and-effect mission, timetable or timing of the withdrawal won't actually be established until all the conditions are meant. John Heilemann, is Trump going to repudiate him? Was this not the issue that Mattis left on? I wonder what happens next," Scarborough said.

"I do, too. I can never presume what Trump will do," Heilemann said. "There is a lot of kind of 'lunatic cop/sane cop' dynamic in how Trump conducts foreign policy. Each says what's he's going to say and does what he's going to do and then someone goes out to reassure allies about what really is about to happen, don't pay attention to the president, he's a nut, he's saying what he's saying but this is what's really going on.

"Now John Bolton in the absence of Rex Tillerson, John Kelly, Jim Mattis, now John Bolton gets to play sane cop to Donald trump's lunatic cop. Whether Donald Trump ends up attacking John Bolton, he end up attacking everybody at some point. This is enough foreign policy that it's perfectly possible that the president is fine with it."

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