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Trump Questioned on Criticism of Obama’s Middle East Policy: ‘You’re Telegraphing Retreat’

President Donald Trump defended his decision to drawdown troops from Syria and Afghanistan in a lengthy CBS News interview that aired Sunday, and anchor Margaret Brennan challenged him on how his criticisms of his predecessor are holding up.

“You also campaigned saying that, you know, President Obama made a big mistake by telegraphing his military moves,” Brennan noted in the interview. “You’re telegraphing your retreat.”

“I’m not telegraphing anything,” Trump objected. “No, no, no. There’s a difference. When President Obama pulled out of Iraq in theory we had Iraq. In other words, we had Iraq. We never had Syria because President Obama never wanted to violate the red line in the sand. So we never had Syria. I was the one that actually violated the red line when I hit Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles, if you remember.”

“But President Obama chose not to do that,” he continued. “When he chose not to do that, he showed tremendous weakness. But we didn’t have Syria whereas we had Iraq. So when he did what he did in Iraq, which was a mistake. Being in Iraq was a mistake. Okay. Being in Iraq — it was a big mistake to go — one of the greatest mistakes going into the Middle East that our country has ever made. One of the greatest mistakes that we’ve ever made.”

“But you want to keep troops there now?” Brennan asked of Iraq.

“Well, we spent a fortune on building this incredible base,” he said. “We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.”

Watch above, via CBS News, and read the full transcript of the interview here.

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: [email protected] Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin