While on a trip to Côte d’Ivoire last week to help Ivanka Trump promote women’s access to capital in Africa, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned of religious wars with “radical ideology” that would be “hell on earth for women” if they are not “destroyed.”
“It’s the enemy of mankind, not just the United States,” Graham said, of the theoretical invaders, according to a recording provided to The Daily Beast. “Some of our soldiers will be needed, but not a lot. Most of the fighting will be done by people in the region. I promise you the enemy will lose because very few mothers or fathers want to turn their daughters over to ISIS, al Qaeda, or any other group.”
As the senator spoke, confused attendees could be heard on the recording asking each other in hushed tones what he was talking about. Graham and Trump, along with an American delegation that included Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), were in Côte d’Ivoire to participate in the Women Entrepreneurship Finance Initiative (We-Fi). The initiative, an idea first proposed by Trump in 2017, is housed in the World Bank and is a global partnership with governments, banks, and other stakeholders. Its goal is to raise money to help prop up women-owned businesses.
Following a panel on We-Fi’s mission, Graham took the microphone and seemingly steered the conversation away from the day’s talking points to talk about a “radical ideology” that would cause war to break out, according to a recording provided to The Daily Beast. Asked about the comments Monday, Graham’s office said the senator was referring to “radical Islam.”
Graham’s remarks, intertwined with quiet claps from the audience, seemed to stir those who were at the summit to learn about the new opportunities We-Fi would offer women not only in Côte d’Ivoire, but also in countries throughout the continent.
Near the end of his remarks, Graham tried to pivot from terrorism to investment in women-owned ventures.
“We’re going to win this struggle. The only question is how long does it take and how many must die,” Graham said, adding that it was critical to the U.S. to empower women in Africa because it “makes America safer.”
“Giving a young woman in a remote, poor region an education and a voice for herself and her children is the terrorists’ worst nightmare,” Graham said. “So if you really want to deal a blow to these evil people, build schools, create economic opportunity, allow a mother to have a say about the future of her children because she will inevitably say no to the terrorist.”
President Trump has in the past referred to countries in Africa as “shitholes” and has yet to visit the continent. Melania Trump visited Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt in October. Ivanka Trump spent several days last week in Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire with USAID Administrator Mark Green. Ivanka Trump has no official role in We-Fi, but she spearheaded her own parallel initiative in the U.S. in 2018 to help promote the initiative’s ideas and message.