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Trump, Pelosi clash in heated White House meeting on Syria
[WASHINGTON] Top congressional Democrats walked out of a fractious White House meeting on Syria policy on Wednesday when US President Donald Trump attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "third-rate politician."
One of the Democrats attending the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said Mr Trump launched into a "nasty diatribe" against them, while Ms Pelosi said the president experienced a "meltdown."
The toxic exchange was the latest sign of the dramatically deteriorating relations between Mr Trump and Ms Pelosi since she launched an impeachment investigation against him last month.
"He was insulting, particularly to the Speaker.... He called her a third-rate politician," said Mr Schumer after they abruptly left the White House meeting on Mr Trump's controversial troop pullout from northern Syria.
Other lawmakers from both parties remained inside, he noted.
Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump appeared "very shaken up" by an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the House earlier Wednesday condemning his troop pullback, which critics say effectively gave Turkey a green light to invade northern Syria and attack Kurdish militia.
"What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown. Sad to say," Ms Pelosi added.
House veteran Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat, said he and others were "offended deeply" by Mr Trump's treatment of Ms Pelosi.
Mr Trump has repeatedly disparaged Ms Pelosi on Twitter in the weeks since the probe began.
Mr Hoyer sounded alarmed at the intensity of the White House confrontation.
"I've been in many, many, many meetings like this," he said. "Never have I seen a president treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of the government of the United States."
Mr Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham rejected the Democratic version of events, saying the president had been "measured and decisive," and that Ms Pelosi walking out was "baffling but not surprising."
"Dem 'leadership' chose to storm out & whine to camera," Ms Grisham tweeted. "Everyone else stayed to work on behalf of our country."
Addressing reporters after the talks, top House Republican Kevin McCarthy likewise accused Ms Pelosi of "storming out" and exhibiting behaviour "unbecoming of a speaker."
The meeting was the first face-to-face encounter between Mr Trump and Ms Pelosi since her explosive September 24 statement announcing a formal impeachment inquiry.
Ms Pelosi said the investigation did not come up during the meeting.