The CNN host was temporarily reduced to silence as the senior Republican politician furiously shut down suggestions US President Donald Trump could “bear responsibility” for the return of the Islamic State (ISIS). President Trump unexpectedly announced US troops will be completely withdrawn from Syria – a move American allies have warned will potentially help ISIS recruit new fighters globally. Senator Graham immediately shut down the CNN host, branding the suggestion “a complete, absolute lie”.
Ms Bash said: “If ISIS reconstitutes itself after the US leaves, does President Trump bear responsibility?”
Mr Graham appeared particularly vexed by the question, hitting back: “Number one, everything we are dealing with today falls on Obama’s watch. He’s the one one who withdrew from Iraq in 2011.
“That’s a bunch of b******t, pardon my French. That’s a complete lie.
“A complete, absolute lie. I was there, talking to the Prime Minister of Iraq and he said ‘how many soldiers you’re talking about?’ Obama wanted to get to zero, he got to zero.”
He continued: “On October 21, 2011, I said ‘I hope the President is right and I’m wrong,’ but I feared this decision would come back to haunt us.
“ISIS came about as result of our withdrawal from Iraq. The caliphate was established in Syria as Obama sat on the sidelines and watched the place be dismembered.
“He was dealt a bad hand by Obama and he needs to play better than he’s playing it.”
American soldiers were first deployed to Syria in 2014 as part of a coalition with the United Kingdom, France, Jordan and Bahrain to lead the fight against the threat of ISIS. President Trump justified his decision claiming ISIS has been “completely defeated.”
A US official said Washington aimed to withdraw troops within 60 to 100 days and said the US State Department was evacuating all its personnel in Syria within 24 hours.
Complete withdrawal from Syria is expected to take 60 to 100 days but so far President Trump has not announced a clear deadline for the end of operations in the war-torn country.
In a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the US President said: “We’re getting out and we’re getting outsmart.
“I never said I’m getting out tomorrow.”
Writing on his personal Twitter account, Mr Trump said: “If anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria, which was an ISIS loaded mess when I became President, they would be a national hero. ISIS is mostly gone, we’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants……”
Sources in the Trump Administration told CNN the military had agreed to a 120-time deadline for all US soldiers to leave Syria in an attempt to “please the President and not get everyone killed.”
Another source said: “The minimum period required to execute this reckless decision is now being portrayed as ‘well thought out and deliberate’ when it’s neither of those things,
“It’s a total capitulation to Erdogan and an abandonment of the very fighters in Syria who are fighting ISIS and protecting US forces. The military simply cannot get out safely in less than 120 days.”