Donald Trump came ‘really close’ to moving US dependents out of South Korea
‘Once you start moving dependents out of South Korea that is a signal to everybody that we're running out of time’
This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Caitlin Oprysko on politico.com on September 16, 2018.
United States Senator Lindsey Graham has confirmed “there was a point in time” when he and President Donald Trump had seriously discussed pulling US military dependents out of South Korea – a move that would have been widely seen as a precursor to military action on the peninsula.
The South Carolina Republican said that at the time, “it looked like nothing was going to happen, there was no dialogue going” with North Korea about its nuclear programme, adding that “once you start moving dependents out of South Korea that is a signal to everybody that we're running out of time.”
Graham cautioned on CBS's Face the Nation, that “we're not out of the woods yet when it comes to North Korea,” but he said the Trump administration’s renewed diplomatic talks have de-escalated the situation and bought time for denuclearisation to be achieved peacefully.
CBS host John Dickerson asked Graham whether that discussion, described in journalist Bob Woodward’s new White House expose, Fear, was portrayed accurately, Graham responded that “we were really close to having to make that hard decision,” but “now we have some time”.
When Dickerson noted that Woodward reports in his book that the Pentagon read Trump’s readiness to announce the removal of dependents as a potential act of war, Graham responded only that Trump “very frustrated with North Korea saying one thing and doing another”.
The senator said he warned the president that moving dependents “is the last decision you make” when preparing for war.