Cheney criticized Trump foreign policy at closed-door retreat

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized President Donald Trump's foreign policy, even comparing it with that of former President Barack Obama, in a striking rebuke of the president by a member of his own party.

Speaking with Vice President Mike Pence this weekend at a closed-door retreat hosted by the American Enterprise Institute in Sea Island, Georgia, Cheney warned that American allies were questioning the dependability of the U.S. as a result of the Trump's public statements. Cheney, known for his hawkish foreign policy views, specifically highlighted Trump's public complaints about the role of NATO and the surprise announcement of the withdrawal of troops from Syria.

Cheney's remarks, which were first reported Monday by The Washington Post, were confirmed by a person in the room. The person requested anonymity because of the conference's off-the-record nature.

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Dick Cheney through the years
CASPER, WY - UNDATED: Congressman Dick Cheney and wife Lynne pose for a photo with their two children Liz (L) and Mary and Basset Hound Cyrano at their home March 1978 in Casper, Wyoming. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Lynne Cheney tastes husband Dick''s stew in the kitchen of their McLean, Virginia home May 1980. Richard Cheney was nominated as George W. Bush''s running mate July 25, 2000. He also served as Secretary of Defense for former President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
Dick and Lynne Cheney plant a tree May 1980 in the yard of their suburban McLean, Virginia home while daughter Mary, 10, holds up an earthworm. Richard Cheney was nominated as George W. Bush''s running mate July 25, 2000. He also served as Secretary of Defense for former President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
The Cheney family (from left, Dick, Elizabeth,12, Mary 10, with dog Cyrano, and Lynne) admire a tree they planted in the yard of the family home May 1980 in McLean, Virginia. Richard Cheney was nominated as George W. Bush''s running mate July 25, 2000. He also served as Secretary of Defense for former President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
The Cheney family (from left) Lynne, Dick, Elizabeth,12, and Mary,10, run in the yard of their family home in McLean, Virginia May 1980. Richard Cheney was nominated as George W. Bush''s running mate July 25, 2000. He also served as Secretary of Defense for former President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
U.S. President Ronald Reagan attends a meeting of the Republican leadership at the White House March 22, 1983 in Washington, D.C. with Republican Minority Leader Bob Michael (L) and Congressman Dick Cheney. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: This file photo taken 14 March 1989 shows former US Defense Secretary-designate Dick Cheney as he appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee, on the first day of hearings on his nomination on Capitol Hill, in Washington,DC. (Photo credit should read JAMES COLBURN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dick Cheney walks with President George Bush and an entourage March 21, 1989 in Washington, DC. Cheney was elected to Congress from Wyoming in 1978 and served ten years prior to his selection as Secretary of Defense under President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
Dick Cheney speaks at his swearing-in March 21, 1989 in Washington, DC. Cheney was elected to Congress from Wyoming in 1978 and served ten years prior to his selection as Secretary of Defense under President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney (R) stands by as General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefs reporters at the Pentagon 20 December 1989 about the military operation to remove Panama's General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power and bring him to the US for trial on drug charges. (Photo credit should read BOB PEARSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President George Bush (C) addresses reporters 22 August 1990 in Kennebunkport flanked by Defense Secretary of State Dick Cheney (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powel, following a meeting dedicated to the military situation in the Gulf. AFP PHOTO JEREME DELAY (Photo credit should read JEROME DELAY/AFP/Getty Images)
Dick Cheney (L), CEO of the Halliburton Company and former Chief of Staff for President Gerald Ford, talks to former President Ford during a party for their mutual friend, Richard Growald, 1994 in San Diego, California. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: GOP vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney waves to the crowd during the third night of the Republican National Convention at First Union Center in Philadephia. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, : Republican Vice Presidential candidate Dick Cheney (L) and his wife Lynne (R) wave to the crowd after his acceptance speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 02 August 2000. (Photo credit STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: Vice President-elect Dick Cheney and President-elect George W. Bush attend an event saluting America's veterans in Washington. (Photo by David Handschuh/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 04: Vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney and wife Lynne are on hand for rally at a campaign train stop in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 04: George W. and Laura Bush and Dick and Lynne Cheney wave at rally in Pittsburgh as they boarded a train for a whistle-stop trip through western Pennsylvania and Ohio. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge is behind Bush. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney speaks against the Iranian nuclear deal at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Fmr. Vice President Dick Cheney appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday Dec. 14, 2014. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada February 24, 2017. REUTERS/David Becker
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is pictured with Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (R) in the President's Emergency Operations Center in Washington in the hours following the September 11, 2001 attacks in this U.S. National Archives handout photo obtained by Reuters July 24, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. National Archives/Handout via Reuters (MILITARY POLITICS DISASTER) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (L), former US President George W. Bush (C) and former Vice President Dick Cheney sit on stage before the unveiling of a marble bust of Cheney in the US Capitol in Washington, December 3, 2015. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
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Cheney also raised alarm over news reports that Trump does not spend sufficient time with his intelligence briefers as well as over frequent staff churn in key national security postings. Cheney also suggested repeatedly that Trump's transactional view of foreign policy — including a focus on what allies contribute to their defense — was misguided.

Pence joked about the absence of "softball" questions before the annual gathering of conservative thinkers, politicians and business leaders. He also sought to counter some of Cheney's criticisms about Trump's handling of North Korea and Syria. A spokesperson for Pence confirmed the account but declined to discuss the exchange.

Since leaving office, Cheney has largely avoided the public spotlight. While his remarks were delivered in private, they reveal how deeply some GOP stalwarts oppose many of Trump's foreign policy moves. The president's brash "America First" pronouncements have been met with concern and condemnation from many traditional Republicans.

Earlier this year, congressional Republicans joined with Democrats to express disapproval of Trump's planned moves to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

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