Graham calls Syria decision 'biggest mistake' of Trump presidency
Posted October 16, 2019 4:29 p.m. EDT
CNN — Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and at times a close ally of President Donald Trump, sharply criticized the President on Wednesday over Trump's decision to remove US troops from northern Syria.
Graham told CNN in an interview Wednesday morning that Trump "will have American blood on his hands if he abandons Kurds because ISIS will come back, and if any American is killed anywhere because a resurgent ISIS, it will fall on the Trump administration like it did (former President Barack) Obama."
He added, "I blame the terrorists, I blame (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan for the violence, but I do look to President Trump to fix it."
Graham's comments followed a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on Capitol Hill. He also called out what he said was a pattern of not listening to advisers and that the President is virtually acting on his own.
"He's not listening to his advisers, he's not," Graham said. "He's making the biggest mistake of his presidency by assuming the Kurds are better off today than they were yesterday. That is just unbelievable."
Graham argued that if Obama were to have made this same decision, Republicans would be on full attack.
"I can imagine if Obama said that what Republicans would be saying now," Graham said. "So I'm going to say it with Trump, that is just unfair dangerous. And quite frankly, (it) is just horrible for us to abandon the Kurds. I would say that if Obama did it."
When asked by CNN whether he could still support the President in the upcoming 2020 election, the senator did not give a solid answer.
"I will tell you that I think his judgment here is flawed and people can make their own decision but Elizabeth Warren is no better. Bernie Sanders is no better," Graham said. "At least he'll appoint better judges and he'll do other things."
The South Carolina senator also used the opportunity to address the Christian community's response to the President's Syria decision -- many of whom are part of Trump's own conservative base.
"I think there's a wide-held belief in the Christian community (that) the Kurds have been good allies, they've been good to Syrian Christians," Graham said, adding that there is "a lot of disappointment there."
Graham's remarks surrounding Christians comes on the same day he spoke with The 700 Club's Pat Robertson.
"Don't be like Obama, be like Reagan -- stand up to Erdogan," Graham said on the program speaking to Trump.
On Wednesday afternoon, Trump responded to Graham's increasingly sharp attacks during a joint news conference with the Italian President.
"Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people's wars. I want to get out of the Middle East," Trump said, adding "The people of South Carolina don't want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, over Syria."
Shortly after Trump's comments, Graham responded on social media in a series of tweets.
"The worst thing any Commander in Chief can do is to give land back to the enemy that was taken through blood and sacrifice," Graham tweeted. "I fear those are the consequences of the actions being taken right now."
Graham also alluded to comments he made earlier in the day surrounding Trump's independent decision making.
"Mr. President, forget what I'm saying about Syria," Graham wrote in another tweet. "Listen to your own national security team who are telling you the consequences of your decision and the impact it will have on our nation."