President Trump jabbed at Sen. Lindsey Graham over his foreign policy positions, accusing him of wanting to keep troops in the Middle East “for the next thousand years.”
Speaking at a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Wednesday, Trump was asked about comments that the South Carolina Republican made that were critical of Trump’s stance on the Turkish invasion of Syria.
“Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers fighting other people’s wars. I want to get out of the Middle East,” Trump responded. “I think Lindsey should focus right now on judiciary.”
The president expressed that he would rather have Graham, a usual Trump ally who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, focus on the origins of the investigation into him and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“He ought to find out about what happened with Comey, what happened with McCabe, Lisa, what happened with Peter Strzok, what happened with President Obama, what happened with Brennan. That’s what Lindsey ought to focus on,” Trump said.
The remarks come after Trump earlier Wednesday said that the Kurds, who helped the United States beat back the Islamic State, know “ how to fight” but are “not angels.” He also knocked the amount of money the U.S. has spent in the region, drawing Graham’s ire.
Trump said Graham’s constituents would rather have him focus on judiciary investigations than foreign policy.
“That’s what the people of South Carolina want him to focus on. The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria,” Trump said. “The people of South Carolina want to see those troops come home. I won an election based on that.”
After hearing about Trump’s comments about him at the press conference, Graham told reporters, “I will not ever be quiet about matters of national security.”
The comments seemingly downplaying the Turkish invasion of Syria come the same day Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo head to Turkey in an attempt to broker a cease-fire between Turkey and Kurdish forces. The duo are slated to meet with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.