Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was on the receiving end of Fox News reporter Trey Yingst for false claims about the letter of intent to withdraw troops, among other things.
January 8, 2020

It's not every day that Fox News breaks out of their monotonous lockstep and actually takes issue with an administration official, but that is exactly what happened on Tuesday.

Trace Gallagher summarized Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's claims in a press conference earlier Tuesday, including his denial that the letter released yesterday indicating that U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq was authentic or something the administration was considering.

Reporter Trey Yingst was having none of it. "I think what we just heard there was a shocking lack of understanding from America's top defense official about what's actually happening on the ground here in Iraq," he told Trace Gallagher.

He went on to point out that the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq met with the Iraqi prime minister to discuss the Iraqi Parliament's vote to ask the United States to withdraw troops from Iraq. (That's called diplomacy. It's a good thing, in case we've forgotten.)

Esper chose to dismiss the Iraqi vote as partisan, writing it off and saying it was non-binding. Kind of like what the administration is doing with the impeachment of Donald Trump, now that I think about it.

Yingst noted that the results of that vote were delivered "directly to the American representative in Baghdad," before pointing out ,“You just heard the defense secretary say he wasn’t aware of any message delivered.”

“The defense secretary also saying, to his knowledge, there was no signed letter,” Yingst said before nothing that “The Iraqis, including the prime minister says one exists.”

“So the gap between what the U.S. wants and what the Iraqis want continues to widen, and everything the defense secretary just said is going to be questioned tomorrow in Baghdad, as many politicians wonder about what this means moving forward if there are continued Iranian threats," he concluded.

And now here we are, 30 missiles later. The threats are now reality, but they've left an offramp for Trump. Let this be their revenge without American response, and it's done.

Let's hope that's how it plays out.

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