Business & Lobbying

Graham: ‘I’ve never been more encouraged by the Trump administration’

Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said he has never been more encouraged by President Trump’s administration than he is following missile strikes on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

“I think ISIS should be Germany and Assad should be Japan, like World War II analogies here,” Graham, who has long advocated for a more aggressive Syria policy, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Accelerate the demise of ISIL — they’re a direct threat to the homeland, Assad’s not. But I’ve never been more encouraged by the Trump administration than I am today,” he added, using an alternate acronym for ISIS.

{mosads}Trump last week ordered missile strikes on the Syrian airfield believed to be the launching point for a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 70 people. The United States blamed the chemical weapons attack on Assad, who has been fighting a civil war in his country since 2011.

Graham, who has criticized Trump over his foreign policy and national security rhetoric, said he views regime change as the new policy of the Trump administration.

“Ambassador [to the United Nations Nikki] Haley just said on your program, ‘You’ll never end the war with Assad in power.’ So that means regime change is now the policy of the Trump administration. That’s at least what I’ve heard. So you need more American troops to accelerate the demise of ISIL.”

Trump officials, including Haley, said prior to the chemical weapons attack that removing Assad was not a priority for the administration.

But last week’s chemical weapons attack appears to mark a shift in rhetoric from Trump officials.

Haley, asked if the administration’s priority had shifted from defeating ISIS to removing Assad, on Sunday said it’s possible to have “multiple priorities.”

“So you know, of course, it’s to defeat ISIS. I mean, we’ve got to do that for peace and stability in the area. It’s also to get out the Iranian influence, which we think is causing so much friction and worse issues in the area,” said Haley.

“And then we’ve got to go and make sure that we actually see a leader that will protect his people. And clearly, Assad is not that person.”

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