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As Other Republicans Criticize President On Syria, Tillis Supports Trump

Steve Harrison/WFAE
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (left) and NC Senator Thom Tillis speak in Union County on Wednesday.

As Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish forces on its border with Syria on Wednesday, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis said he’s backing Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from the area. 

Tillis – speaking at an event in Union County on Wednesday – said the Kurds are “great fighters” and he’s worried about their safety. But he trusts the president’s decision.

"But at this point, I’m giving the president the benefit of the doubt," Tillis said. "We’ll go back next week, I’m sure we’ll have a classified briefing, and then I’ll have better access to the facts that he might have used."

Other Republicans have criticized the president. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, typically a vocal Trump supporter, said the president’s plan was “delusional and dangerous.” He said the U.S. couldn’t abandon the Kurds, who helped the U.S. troops defeat the Islamic State.

Tillis was also asked by reporters about the House impeachment inquiry, and whether he thought it was appropriate for the president to ask a foreign country to investigate former vice president Joe Biden. 

"I’m going to leave it to the president to make that decision," he said. "What I will tell you is, I don’t think it’s right to go through a process now that’s based on the facts are distracting away (from regular House business). The impeachment inquiry didn’t raise to a level that the speaker thought needed a vote on the floor to move forward."

Tillis also dismissed the whistleblower’s complaint about the president's call to Ukraine's president.

"I’ve seen the transcript," he said. "I’ve seen the complaint. And if that alone is all they're using to drive all the resources in the House, then I think it’s a waste.”

Tillis, a first-term Senator, is running for re-election in 2020. He has a primary opponent, Garland Tucker, who says Tillis hasn’t fully supported the president.

The senator was speaking to farmers near Monroe about issues such as immigration and the president’s trade war against China.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.