As an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump intensifies and a recent troop withdrawal from Syria angers some of his staunchest Congressional allies, a former top national security official under Barack Obama condemned what she considers Trump’s use of U.S. policy abroad to pursue his political objectives at home.
Susan Rice, who served as National Security Advisor over Obama’s second term, sharply criticized Trump’s foreign policy, saying, “It’s actually not America first — it’s me first.”
“Having to say that as a former National Security Advisor is appalling and dangerous and horrible,” Rice, who recently released a memoir “Tough Love,” told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an interview that was taped last Tuesday.
In addition to Rice, former members of Trump’s administration have raised questions about the handling of diplomatic relations, which sit at the center of an impeachment probe into Trump. Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told members of Congress on Wednesday that he resigned last week because the Trump administration had taken foreign policy away from career officials at the State Department.
Last Friday, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post in May, told impeachment investigators that she was forced by the Trump administration to step down based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
Trump has forcefully denied any wrongdoing, defending his conduct and calling the impeachment inquiry politically motivated.
“You would think there is NO WAY that any of the Democrat Candidates that we witnessed last night could possibly become President of the United States,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday, referring to the Democratic presidential debate that took place the night before. “Now you see why they have no choice but to push a totally illegal & absurd Impeachment of one of the most successful Presidents!
‘We are in quite uncharted territory’
Rice accused Trump of exploiting U.S. relationships with foreign countries to advance his personal political interests.
“I don't see what conclusion rational people can draw, other than that the president has put a for-sale sign on the Oval Office,” says Rice, who also served as Ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama administration. “We are in quite uncharted territory.”
“What he is selling is anything that would get him what he thinks would be politically beneficial to him, maybe also financially beneficial, although that's less clear,” Rice adds.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry last month after reports that on a July phone call Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. In subsequent days, the Trump administration released a rough transcript of the call and a whistleblower complaint filed in its aftermath.
Rice served as the National Security Advisor under president Barack Obama for three and a half years, giving intelligence briefings to the president each morning; and before that, she spent Obama’s first term as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Earlier in her career, Rice served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in Bill Clinton’s administration, and spent several years as a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
She currently sits on the boards of Netflix and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
‘Biggest blunder of his presidency’
She made the comments during a conversation that aired in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Besides the impeachment inquiry, Trump’s foreign policy has come under scrutiny for his decision last Saturday to withdraw 1,000 troops from Northern Syria, which was followed by a Turkish military offensive in the region. The move garnered criticism from some of Trump’s staunchest Congressional allies, including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, who called it “the biggest blunder of his presidency.”
Rice said that Trump’s track record on foreign policy should raise questions about the motives behind the troop withdrawal.
“What made Donald Trump wake up, without consulting his national security team, and all of a sudden declare that U.S. forces are pulling out?” she says.
Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Find him on twitter @MaxZahn_.