Former Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly challenged Vice President Pence over President Trump’s foreign policy on Saturday, with Cheney even comparing Trump's approach to that of former President Barack Obama.
The Washington Post reports that the two clashed at a closed-door retreat hosted by the American Enterprise Institute in Georgia, on subjects including the withdrawal of troops from Syria and the tougher stance taken by the Trump administration toward NATO.
Cheney suggested that the 2018 decision to withdraw from Syria was made during “the middle of a phone call” and that “we’re getting into a situation when our friends and allies around the world that we depend upon are going to lack confidence in us.”
“I worry that the bottom line of that kind of an approach is we have an administration that looks a lot more like Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan,” he said.
According to the Post, Pence shrugged off Cheney’s concerns and praised Trump as a “candid and transformational leader.” A senior administration official confirmed the reporting to Fox News but did not comment.
Cheney reportedly said Trump’s stance toward NATO, where he has urged countries to stump up more for their defense budgets, “feeds this notion on the part of our allies overseas, especially in NATO, that we’re not long for that continued relationship, that we’re looking eagerly to find ways where somebody else will pick up the tab.”
“Well, who wrote these softball questions?” Pence joked at one point, in reference to the grilling he was getting.
The clash is an example of the ongoing tension in the Republican Party between the more hawkish Bush-era wing that pushed for U.S. intervention in Iraq in 2003, and Trump’s homefront-focused policies that look to withdraw from conflicts abroad so as to deal with domestic national security issues.
Cheney also expressed concern about Trump’s decision to cancel military exercises with South Korea, and reports he wanted the Germans, Japanese and South Koreans to pay U.S. deployment costs, according to The Post.
Pence reportedly pushed back a number of times, praising Trump and accusing critics of conflating “the demand that our allies live up to their word and their commitments and an erosion in our commitment to the post-World War II order.”
“But we think it’s possible to demand that your allies do more to provide for the common defense of all of our nations and, at the same time, reaffirm our strong commitment -- whether it be to the transatlantic alliance or to our allies across the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
Fox News' Kelly Chernenkoff contributed to this report.