In a late-night speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham strongly criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria, calling the decision “disastrous” and a “stain on the honor” of the U.S..
Graham also said the president’s claim that the Islamic State had been defeated was “fake news.” The South Carolina senator said he’d just gotten back from a trip to the Middle East and knew for a fact that Trump’s claim was “inaccurate.”
Trump made the claim on Wednesday when he posted a video on Twitter with the words:
“After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home!”
After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home! pic.twitter.com/xoNjFzQFTp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Although Graham has been an ally of Trump, lately he has been critical of some of the president’s decisions. He was not happy with how Trump handled Saudi Arabia and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. He was part of a bipartisan group of senators who warned the president that it would lead to disaster and a new wave of Islamic radicalism.
The withdrawal of the more than 2,000 troops is based on Trump’s decision that the mission against ISIS is complete, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Trump tweeted on Wednesday:
“Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer. Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there work. Time to come home & rebuild. #MAGA”
Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer. Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there work. Time to come home & rebuild. #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other U.S. military leaders in recent weeks have said we need U.S. troops to remain in Syria to help stabilize it so peace negotiations can proceed.
In his speech, Graham said he was introducing a resolution that would condemn Trump’s decision. He also asked the president to rescind his decision, explaining that a “true leader” is open to changing his mind when he is wrong.
Graham said he’d spoken with military leaders in the Trump administration, including Mattis, and discovered that the president’s decision was “his alone.”
“Mr. President, I too want our troops to come home,” Graham said. “But I don’t want to tell the American people that we’re secure when I don’t believe we are.”
In other words, Trump did not have the support of the Senate or of the Pentagon when he unilaterally decided to pull the U.S. out of Syria.
This did not go over well with many people in Washington.
Graham said none of the officials he’s spoken with thought pulling troops out of Syria was a good idea. He also said the president should fire his advisers because they were giving him poor advice.
On the plus side for Donald Trump, at least, on Thursday morning Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was very happy with the decision for the U.S. to withdraw from Syria. He also said the presence of U.S. troops there was “illegitimate.”