Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made it clear Sunday that former President Barack Obama's excuse for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 was "a complete lie."
What did Graham say?
During a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" Sunday, Graham was asked about comments he recently made, when he said President Donald Trump's decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Syria could trigger a "second 9/11 in the U.S."
"If ISIS reconstitutes itself after the U.S. leaves, does President Trump bear responsibility?" Bash asked.
"Well, number one, everything we're dealing with today falls on Obama's watch. He's the one that withdrew from Iraq," Graham responded. "In 2011, October the 21st, I said, I hope.."
"But he did it because there was a status of forces agreement with Iraq, right?" Bash interrupted.
"Listen — well, no, that's a bunch of bulls**t. Pardon my French," Graham shot back. "That's a complete lie."
In 2008, the Bush administration made a deal with the Iraqi government, known as the Status of Forces Agreement, to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2011. However, it was widely believed at the time the Obama administration would re-negotiate the deal. Instead, Obama approved a complete withdrawal, creating what many have called a "vacuum" that led to ISIS gaining a stronghold in the region.
Graham later told Bash:
That's a complete, absolute lie. I have been there. Yes, 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. And 20 -- October, the 21st, 2011, I said, I hope the president's right and I'm wrong, but I fear this decision will come back to haunt us.
ISIS came about as a result of our withdrawal from Iraq. The caliphate was established in Syria because Obama sat on the sidelines and watched the place be dismembered.
(Watch below: Graham's comments begin at 5:04):
Graham was interviewed before he was scheduled to meet with Trump Sunday afternoon, where the two planned to discuss Middle East policy, specifically Trump's order to withdraw troops from Syria.
During his interview with Bash, Graham said his only goal for the meeting was to persuade Trump to "reconsider" his decision. And it appears Graham was successful. He told media following the two-hour meeting that action on Syria is "in a pause situation."