Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. (Photographer: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Bloomberg)

Trump Digs In on Syria Pullout After Graham Floats New Approach

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump doubled down on his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, a day after a top Republican senator said the president may be open to changing his strategy.

“I campaigned on getting out of Syria and other places,” Trump said Monday on Twitter, adding that his efforts to stop "never ending wars" shouldn’t come as a surprise to critics.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said Sunday that the president might be reconsidering the troop withdrawal strategy after an eye-opening trip to Iraq the day after Christmas.

Graham, who has been a vocal critic of Trump’s plan, also said he would try to change the president’s mind during a private lunch because the Islamic State is not completely defeated as the president previously has suggested.

“I feel better about Syria than I felt before I had lunch,” Graham told reporters after leaving the White House. “I think the president is taking this really seriously, and the trip to Iraq was well timed.” Trump has forged a plan with his generals in the field that “makes sense,” he added.

In Monday Twitter posts, Trump blasted the "Fake News Media" and "failed Generals who were unable to do the job before" he took office for criticizing his approach, which came against the advice of the president’s top national security advisers and triggered the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

"Just doing what I said I was going to do!" Trump said.

Trump Digs In on Syria Pullout After Graham Floats New Approach

On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Graham said Trump had talked to General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“I got a call from General Dunford,” Graham said. “The president is reconsidering how we do this.”

Graham said he understood Trump’s frustration with how much allies sacrifice in the Syria conflict, as well as the notion that the U.S. is trying to secure the entire world.

“But we’re not the policemen of the world here,” Graham said, adding that the U.S. is “fighting a war against” Islamic State for its own security.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Trump is considering reversing the decision -- announced by tweet earlier this month -- to pull U.S. troops from Syria.

Trump has already has backed away from the notion of an immediate withdrawal, saying a week ago that the pullout of U.S. troops from the area would be “slow & highly coordinated.”

While visiting soldiers in Iraq last week -- his first visit to U.S. troops in a combat zone as commander-in-chief -- Trump said the forces that remain there could act against any Islamic State resurgence in neighboring Syria.

On CNN, Graham said that the U.S. is “inside the 10-yard line in defeating ISIS. But we’re not there yet. If we leave now, the Kurds are going to get slaughtered.”

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