Trump doesn’t think getting rid of Assad is important and promises to send back all Syrian refugees if he is elected.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Syria may be off the front pages but the situation there is awful. We have the defense secretary Ash Carter in Brussels convening leaders there tomorrow including Arab states asking them to do more. They say that we need more U.S leadership, that we should commit U.S ground troops. Should we commit U.S ground troops?
DONALD TRUMP: Well you know Syria’s a whole different thing and you look at what’s happening. I view ISIS as very important. And I love the fact that Russia is hitting ISIS and as far as I’m concerned they’ve got to continue to hit ISIS.
O’DONNELL: Do you know what Russia’s doing in Syria? Russia is hitting the groups that we’re backing.
TRUMP: Sure and why are we backing the group? We don’t even know who those people are. I speak to generals, they’re saying “we’re giving billions of dollars of equipment to people we don’t know.” Here we go again. We’re giving all of this money and all of this equipment to people we have no idea who they are. They’re probably worse than Assad. I mean Assad’s no baby. He’s not good but who are the people that we’re backing? Here we go again like Libya…
CHARLIE ROSE: That’s President Obama’s argument. We don’t know whose weapons will fall into whose hands.
TRUMP: Well why is he doing it? He’s giving them a lot of weaponry and we’re backing people who want to knock out Assad. Russia and Iran which is now a power we made them a power, they’re backing Assad. We’ve got to get rid of ISIS. We’ve got to get rid of the people that are chopping off everybody’s heads.
O’DONNELL: You say you have a good relationship with Putin or would have a good relationship with Putin?
TRUMP: I think I would have a very good relationship but who knows?
O’DONNELL: So could you convince Putin to get Assad to step aside?
TRUMP: Well they’ve been trying to do that. Could I? I don’t think it’s that important to be honest with you. I think frankly let’s say you get rid of Assad or knock out that government. Who’s going to take over? The people that we’re backing? And then you’re going to have like Libya right? You take Gaddafi. Oh we have to get rid of Gaddafi. Look what happened after we got rid of Gaddafi.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Big news tonight from Donald Trump. He wants to send…in fact he promises to send back all the 200,000 Syrian refugees he expects to come into this country between now and his inauguration in 2017. All of them go home if he gets elected. He says that. Here he is just moments ago making that point.
DONALD TRUMP: Now I hear we want to take in 200,000 Syrians right? And they could be...listen, they could be ISIS. I don’t know. Did you ever see a migration like that? And I’ll tell you right now and I’m putting everybody on notice and hopefully this gets outside of this room and I guess it will with all these crazy cameras going on back there. I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration that if I win; if I win they’re going back. They’re going back; I’m telling you they’re going back.
Clinton says the U.S should be willing to take in more Syrian refugees as long as they are thoroughly vetted.
“To the United States I think our role in NATO, our support for the EU, as well as our willingness to take refugees so long as they are thoroughly vetted and that we have confidence from intelligence and other sources that they can come to our country we should be doing our part. And we should back up the recent donor’s conference to make sure we have made our contribution to try to deal with the enormous cost that these refugees are posing to Turkey and to members of the EU in particular.”
ANDREA MITCHELL: Secretary Clinton, I want to talk to you about red lines. Because former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a recent interview that President Obama’s decision to stand down on planned missile strikes against Damascus, after Assad had used chemical weapons, hurt the president’s credibility. Should the president have stuck to his red line once he drew it?
HILLARY CLINTON: Look, I think that the president’s decision to go after the chemical weapons, once there was a potential opportunity to build on when the Russians opened that door, resulted in a very positive outcome. We were able to get the chemical weapons out. I know from my own experience-as Secretary of State-that we were deeply worried about Assad’s forces using chemical weapons, because it would have had not only an horrific effect on people in Syria, but it could very well have affected the surrounding states-Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey. So getting those chemical weapons out was a big deal.
MITCHELL: Should he have stuck to his guns or did it hurt U.S credibility?
CLINTON: I think as commander in chief, you’ve got to constantly be evaluating the decisions you have to make. I know a little bit about this, having spent many hours in the situation room, advising President Obama. And I want to just add to something that Senator Sanders said. The United States had a very big interest in trying to help stabilize the region.
If there is any blame to be spread around, it starts with the prime minister of Iraq, who sectarianized his military, setting Shia against Sunni. It is amplified by Assad, who has waged one of the bloodiest, most terrible attacks on his own people, 250,000 plus dead, millions fleeing, causing this vacuum that has been filled, unfortunately, by terrorist groups-including ISIS.
So I think we are in the midst of great turmoil in this region. We have a proxy conflict going on between Saudi Arabia and Iran. You know, one of the criticisms I’ve had of Senator Sanders is his suggestion that Iranian troops be used to try to end the war in Syria and go after ISIS-
MITCHELL: Your time is up, Secretary-
CLINTON: Which I don’t think would be a good idea- but overall a lot of the forces at work in the region are ones that we cannot directly influence, but we can try to bring more help.