'Dumbest f*cking idea': Lindsey Graham loses it on on Trump's acting defense secretary in expletive-filled tirade

'Dumbest f*cking idea': Lindsey Graham loses it on on Trump's acting defense secretary in expletive-filled tirade

Vice President Mike Pence and a group of U.S. congressional representatives attended the Munich Security Conference last week, along with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Trump’s unofficial co-vice president, Ivanka Trump. Considering she has no official negotiating role for the United States and has never been confirmed or elected to anything, her presence was a mystery.

The trip provided several new lowlights for the Trump administration, including the incredibly awkward silence from world leaders as Mike Pence said he brought greetings from Donald Trump and then tried to rally applause and approval for the Trump administration’s plans for Iran. You could’ve heard a pin drop (see that video below). German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered another blow to the Trump administration, chastising Trump’s trade policies as Ivanka sat quietly, blinking in stunned silence as the crowd around her applauded Merkel.

Now we are learning congressional representatives took the opportunity to meet privately with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, and it sounds like that meeting went over about as well as Pence’s speech. Maybe worse. The Washington Post has details on a contentious exchange between Sen. Lindsey Graham and Shanahan over Trump’s bizarre decision to immediately withdrawal from Syria, something that is widely seen as a benefit to ...(drumroll) … Vladimir Putin. Here’s the exchange:

“Are you telling our allies that we are going to go to zero by April 30?” he asked Shanahan, according to Graham.

“Yes, that’s been our direction [from the president],” Shanahan replied.

“That’s the dumbest f---ing idea I’ve ever heard,” Graham responded.

Graham then launched into a list of consequences he feared would result from a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Syria without a follow-up plan: The Islamic State would return, Turkey would attack Kurdish forces, Iran would gain the advantage. Graham asked Shanahan if he disagreed with that analysis.

“That could very well happen,” Shanahan said.

“Well, if the policy is going to be that we are leaving by April 30, I am now your adversary, not your friend,” Graham told the acting Pentagon chief, according to Graham. (Several other lawmakers confirmed this exchange.)

The confrontation was bipartisan.

Inside the meeting, after Graham confronted Shanahan, several other lawmakers from both parties chimed in, warning Shanahan of what they believed were the risks of Trump’s Syria withdrawal plan. They implored Shanahan to persuade the president to change course. Several lawmakers told me Shanahan stood silent, like a “deer in the headlights.” They said he failed to articulate a substantive response — other than to reiterate these were Trump’s instructions.

Sounds great, right? Trump’s acting defense secretary was not only unable to defend the decision to withdrawal from Syria, but he stood around like a “deer in headlights,” parroting Trump talking points, even conceding that this could be a disastrous decision. The decision to abruptly withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which was not based on U.S. intelligence or the advice of military leaders, was the reason former Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned.

In case you missed it, here are the brutal clips mentioned above.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.