The likely incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee told reporters outside the White House that he was feeling “a lot better about where we’re headed in Syria” after his lunch with the president Sunday.
“I think the president’s trip to Iraq was eye-opening,” Graham said Sunday, referring to Trump’s visit with troops on Wednesday. “The commanders there told him that ISIS was in a world of hurt ― not completely destroyed, but well on their way.”
“I think operations to completely destroy and decimate ISIS are going to be ongoing and are going to be accelerated,” he added.
Graham has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s abrupt decision earlier this month to immediately pull out all American troops from war-torn Syria. He has repeatedly denied the president’s claim that self-styled Islamic State has been defeated in the region.
“The president assured me he’s going to get the job done,” Graham said Sunday. “I share his goal to withdraw our forces from Syria ― I just want to do it in a smart way, make sure that Iran’s not the big winner. ... It’s going to take a little longer than everybody thought but hopefully we can get there.”
He continued: “I think we’re in a pause situation where we’re re-evaluating what’s the best way to achieve the president’s objective of having people pay more and do more. ... We’ll see what happens here in the next few weeks, but I feel better about Syria than I felt before I had lunch.”
Earlier Sunday, Graham said he hoped Trump would reconsider his plan.
“I’m asking the president to make sure we have troops there to protect us,” Graham told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If we leave now, the Kurds will get in a fight with Turkey. They could get slaughtered. ... This is being done by President Trump against sound military advice.”