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 TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated 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 MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths Pentagon watchdog probing whether acting chief boosted Boeing Overnight Defense: Judge says Trump can't implement transgender policy | Trump floats admitting Brazil to NATO | Mattis returning to Stanford 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.