US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democratic leaders’ cut short a White House meeting after Republican President Donald Trump had a “meltdown” over a House of Representatives vote condemning his Syria withdrawal.
“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown,” Pelosi told reporters outside the White House.
Pelosi and the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, said they walked out of the briefing after hearing little but insults from the president.
Schumer said Trump insulted Pelosi by calling her a “third-rate politician”.
Schumer said the meeting “was not a dialogue. This was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts.”
Pelosi claimed Trump appeared visibly “shaken up” after House passage of a bipartisan condemnation of his decision to order the withdrawal of American troops from northeast Syria.
That measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. A similar resolution is also expected to pass in the Senate.
Wednesday’s meeting came amid sharp bipartisan criticism of Trump over his withdrawal decision. Trump has defended his policy, saying it is time for the US to get out of “endless wars”.
Following Trump’s decision, Turkey launched an operation against Kurdish fighters in the region.
Many US politicians fear the withdrawal will jeopardise the fight against the armed group.
Pelosi said Democrats “couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it”.
Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee who has been critical of Trump’s decision, said he was disappointed to see Democratic leadership walk out of the meeting.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said how Pelosi addressed Trump was inappropriate and they had a productive meeting after she left.
There was no immediate response from the White House.
Earlier on Wednesday, Pelosi said the White House had cancelled a classified briefing about Syria for House members.
A Democratic congressional aide said the White House said it could not provide administration officials to conduct Thursday’s planned briefing.
Two Senate aides said a classified briefing for senators was also cancelled. One aide said it is because key administration officials were travelling to Turkey. The aides spoke on a condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.