Sen. Lindsey Graham and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, uniting against a Trump administration idea to withdraw U.S. troops from part of Africa, pushed back during a fiery exchange with Defense Secretary Mark Esper over the weekend, according to four people present at or familiar with the meeting.
Senators and members of the House met with Esper on the margins of the Munich Security Conference, NBC News reports. Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who are members of the Foreign Relations Committee, led the charge, said the four people, telling Esper that Congress would not support a U.S. troop withdrawal from the Sahel region in Africa and laying out the reasons to keep the troop presence there.
At one point, Graham warned Esper that there would be consequences if the Pentagon withdrew all troops from the region. Graham told Esper that he could "make your life hell," according to the four people. One member present said Graham, Coons and several other lawmakers laid out their case "forcefully."
While Graham has met often with President Donald Trump and was a key supporter during his impeachment, he has repeatedly criticized Trump administration initiatives to remove U.S. troops from crisis zones.
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