Politics & Government

‘You want to invade everybody’: Donald Trump’s reaction to Lindsey Graham’s military advice

Trump says Lindsey Graham is now his friend

At a rally in Columbia, SC, Donald Trump talks about Sen. Lindsey Graham and their once rocky relationship.
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At a rally in Columbia, SC, Donald Trump talks about Sen. Lindsey Graham and their once rocky relationship.

President Donald Trump was surprised by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s response when the president was looking for advice on what to do in Venezuela.

Trump asked the S.C. Republican if the United States should consider military action in the Latin American country, where the United States is backing one of two rival presidents amid domestic political clashes.

Graham warned Trump, “You need to go slow on that, that could be problematic,” the Seneca Republican told the website Axios.

The president responded, “Well, I’m surprised, you want to invade everybody,” according to Graham.

Trump and Graham had the conversation about Venezuela about two weeks ago, the senator said.

The United States and other allies have recognized the claim of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, to be the country’s interim president in a clash with Nicolas Maduro, a longtime thorn in the U.S. side in the region.

Graham said he warned Trump against using military force to try to remove Maduro, adding he laughed off Trump’s comment.

“I said, ‘I don’t want to invade everybody, I only want to use the military when our national security interests are threatened,’ ” Graham said.

So far, the United States has stuck with economic and diplomatic pressure in dealing with the situation in Venezuela. But Graham has established himself as a key voice in shaping Trump’s foreign policy.

He also has been willing to clash with Trump.

In recent months, Graham has been a critic of the Trump administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and panned Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

But last week, Graham traveled to Turkey to discuss Syria with that country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the behest of the Trump administration.

Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.