On Tuesday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham said that President Trump is willing to go to war with North Korea to stop it from being able to hit the American mainland with a nuclear weapon.
“There is a military option: to destroy North Korea’s nuclear program and North Korea itself,” Graham told the Today show’s Matt Lauer. “He’s not going to allow — President Trump — the ability of this madman [Kim Jong Un] to have a missile that could hit America.
“If there’s going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there,” Graham continued. “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die over here — and he’s told me that to my face.”
Graham’s press office confirmed that the senator was, in fact, reciting the details of a conversation he had with the president. According to Graham, the president “doesn’t want a war” — but would be willing to start one that would kill millions of people in the region if it came down to it.
Graham went even further later in the interview, saying war between the United States and North Korea was “inevitable” under this president unless North Korea stops testing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). These missiles, Graham says, are an unacceptable threat to the American homeland — so Trump would go to war to stop them:
LAUER: Are you saying it’s okay to use a military option that immediately endangers the lives of millions of people in that region?
GRAHAM: I’m saying it’s inevitable unless North Korea changes, because you’re making our president pick between regional stability and homeland security. He’s having to make a choice that no president has wanted to make. They’ve kicked the can down the road for 20 years; there’s nowhere else to kick it. There will be a war with North Korea over their missile program if they continue trying to hit America with an ICBM. He’s told me that, and I believe him.
Now, we don’t know if Graham is accurately conveying what the president said or merely putting words in his mouth. A senior White House official, when asked about Graham’s comments, told me that “all options remain on the table” — but also noted that the administration’s policy right now was to apply “maximum diplomatic and economic pressure to convince North Korea to change course.”