National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Thursday during a White House press briefing joined the chorus of government officials dismissing bizarre claims of a Chinese presence in Syria by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson.
At the latest Republican debate, Carson gave a rambling answer about American foreign policy in the Mideast and combating the Islamic State terrorist group. He said there was evidence of China’s involvement in Syria.
Rice was asked Thursday by ABC News reporter Jon Karl about Carson’s comments.
“I can’t really speak to what he was referring to, but unless you’re talking about having a diplomatic presence, I’m not sure what he’s referring to,” Rice said.
While Carson’s answer was rambling and a bit unclear, the upshot was a claim of Chinese military involvement in Syria, Karl told her.
“I have not seen any evidence of Chinese military involvement in Syria,” Rice said.
Carson’s business manager and adviser Armstrong Williams said Wednesday that the Republican’s claims were based on “our own intelligence and what Dr. Carson’s been told.”
Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, said Friday morning on MSNBC that Carson had “overstated” his point: “I would characterize the Chinese as merely interested.”
President Obama also dismissed Carson’s plan to eliminate ISIL in Syria during an interview with ABC News on Thursday.
“What I think is he doesn’t know much about it,” Obama said.
Watch the exchange below: