Lindsey Graham entertained the crowd with a story about an early-morning phone call with Trump during which the President relayed a conversation he’d had with Defense Secretary James Mattis.
“We’re asking permission to send 50 of our soldiers into a village outside Raqqa,” Mattis told Trump, according to Graham. “Why are you calling me?” Trump replied. “I don’t know where this village is at.” Mattis told him, “Well, that’s what we’ve done for the last 8 years.”
Trump, Graham said, then asked, “Who’s asking to go into that village?” Mattis told him, “A major, first in his class at West Point.”
“’Why do you think I know more about that than he does?’” Graham said Trump asked. “And then he hung up.”
Graham said Trump’s habit of deferring to Pentagon officials on military operations “is gonna win this war.” But the room’s laughter at the tale revealed a collective understanding of the value that comes when Trump doesn’t meddle. Yes, Graham thinks that may win the war—it may save the Republican Party, too.