Trump pushed to evacuate military families from S. Korea ahead of Olympics: report

Trump pushed to evacuate military families from S. Korea ahead of Olympics: report
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Judge rejects Manafort's attempt to throw out some charges Dem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ MORE ordered top national security officials to prepare to evacuate U.S. military families living in South Korea ahead of the Winter Olympics earlier this year, CNN reported Tuesday.

CNN, citing four current and former administration officials, reported that Trump issued the directive earlier this year to then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster during a daily intelligence briefing.

McMaster reportedly directed National Security Council staff to prepare a presidential memorandum ordering the nearly 8,000 military dependents in South Korea to leave the country. The memo was then sent to White house chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE.

“It was an order. It wasn't, ‘I'm thinking about it,'” one senior administration official told CNN, referring to the directive. “We saw it as a done deal.”


However, top national security officials — concerned that North Korea would interpret the move as the U.S. preparing for war — worked on a compromise behind the scenes, sources told CNN.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPentagon approves hundreds more National Guard troops to support border agents Overnight Defense: Trump now says Kim summit could still happen June 12 | Details emerge on Senate defense bill | Trump tells Navy grads 'they are respecting us again' Hillicon Valley: Sweeping new data rules take effect | Facebook, Google already hit with complaints | Schumer slams reported ZTE deal | Senators look to save cyber post | Dem wants answers about Trump's phone security MORE and Kelly reportedly convinced Trump to agree to an alternate directive that would instead stop U.S. military personnel from bringing their families to South Korea during future tours.

A new memorandum on the compromise was drafted, CNN reported, but it was never implemented.

The evacuation order reportedly came as Trump and his advisers were debating the potential to conduct a targeted strike against sites in North Korea in a "bloody nose" strategy.

A former senior administration official told CNN that they believed that Trump at the time wanted to send a signal to the Pentagon that “he was serious about studying military options for North Korea.”

Another administration official told the network that Trump believed it wouldn’t be smart to keep military families in South Korea if tensions spiraled into military action.

The CNN report underscores the aggressive measures that were reportedly under consideration by Trump before the warming in relations between the U.S. and North Korea in recent weeks.

Trump plans to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a summit in Singapore next month in what would be the first-ever meeting between a North Korean leader and sitting U.S. president.

Trump has repeatedly touted the meeting in recent weeks as part of efforts to see Pyongyang end its nuclear program, but North Korea on Tuesday seemingly threatened that the summit may be at risk because of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said the drills between the U.S. and South Korean air forces are an "intentional military provocation" to undermine recent diplomatic talks.

The White House released a statement in response saying it “will look at” North Korea’s comments as it moves forward.