Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Stephen Ford rejected NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell’s “off the mark” attempt during an interview Monday on MSNBC to pin some of the blame for the latest suspected chemical attack against Syrian civilians on President Donald Trump.

Trump recently floated the idea of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria “like very soon” to let “other people take care of it now.” But for the time being, there are no concrete plans to reduce the United States’ presence.

Ford, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, did not approve of Mitchell’s suggestion that Trump bore some responsibility for the Saturday attack, which killed dozens and was believed to be carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“This is the same president who criticized Barack Obama for signaling his exit strategy from both Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly Iraq. So has [Trump] learned that lesson?” Mitchell asked Ford. “And do you agree with [Sen.] John McCain [R-Ariz.] and others … that Assad was possibly emboldened by all this talk of an exit strategy?”

McCain blasted Trump in a statement Sunday, saying that, when Trump “signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria,” Assad and “his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him” and were “emboldened by American inaction.”

Ford, however, pushed back against McCain and Mitchell.

“No, I don’t think Donald Trump’s remarks about withdrawing forces from Syria, withdrawing American forces from Syria, emboldened Bashar al-Assad,” Ford said. “Look, Bashar al-Assad has been using chemical weapons regularly in Syria dating back to at least 2013.

“And this wasn’t the first or second or third time he’s used them, and he was using them long before Donald Trump ever talked about bringing American forces out of Syria. So in this case, I have to say I think that analysis is off the mark.”

But Mitchell had been casting blame on Trump throughout the day. Earlier on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” she said that “there’s no question that now, all these years later, it is Donald Trump’s challenge.”

Citing McCain, Mitchell added that Trump “did say to the distress of his own Pentagon that he’s going to pull out our 2,000 troops, and he wants it to be done in months, not years. So after signaling weakness and watching Putin and Erdogan, and Rouhani meeting and almost celebrating their victory and their control over Syria, now he has to take action.”

Who do you think would win the Presidency?

By completing the poll, you agree to receive emails from LifeZette, occasional offers from our partners and that you've read and agree to our privacy policy and legal statement.

Mitchell even advised Trump to take a certain course of action, saying, “What he ought to do is a coordinated action. The Israelis, most likely, are the ones who struck in the last 48 hours. But now there has to be a comprehensive response.”

Related: Trump: Russia, Iran Will Pay ‘Big Price’ for Backing ‘Animal Assad’

Trump, however, had strong words for Russia and Iran in a series of tweets Sunday.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price … to pay,” Trump tweeted. “Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

Trump added, “If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!”

Saturday’s chemical attack in Syria came almost exactly one year after Trump launched an unexpected cruise missile strike against a Syrian air base, in retaliation for a 2017 chemical attack that killed dozens in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.