Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday said President Trump personally told him he was “mentally” prepared to “abandon strategic patience and use preemption” against North Korea and added that the president doesn’t need congressional approval to launch a military strike against the rogue nation.
“It would be very smart if the Congress could come together and tell the president ‘you have our authorization to use military force … as a last resort.’ That would sent a signal to North Korea and China, that would probably do more good to avoid war than anything I could think of,” Graham told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Graham said he had discussions with Trump about North Korea and described the president as “deadly serious. Very curious.”
“I think he’s made a decision long ago, quite frankly, to try to negotiate the threat with North Korea. … But if negotiations fail, he is willing to abandon strategic patience and use pre-emption,” he said.
“I think he’s there mentally,” Graham added. “He has told me this.”
Graham acknowledged that Trump could have to decide between defending the United States and maintaining regional stability in East Asia.
If the president launches a missile strike against North Korea, Graham said North Korea would likely “unleash all of their weapons against South Korea and Japan. … I would not fire one missile or drop one bomb against North Korea unless we were ready to finish the job.”
“We’re in a unique situation of homeland defense versus regional stability. You can’t give your allies a veto when it comes to defending the homeland,” he added. “But war will only happen if China completely fails in stopping North Korea.”
Graham also pushed back GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) assertion that a “pre-emptive war” on the Korean peninsula “would require the authorization of Congress.”
“There’s nothing in the Constitution limiting the ability to use force to protect America,” Graham said.