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  Trump sought to evacuate military families from South Korea before Olympics
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ContributorRP 
Last EditedRP  May 16, 2018 03:20am
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AuthorJeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak
News DateWednesday, May 16, 2018 07:30:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionBut earlier this year, just weeks before the Winter Olympics in South Korea that served as a critical diplomatic opening with Pyongyang, the President ordered his top national security officials to prepare to evacuate the families of all US military personnel living in South Korea, four current and former administration officials said.
The order was a provocative step that, had it been fully implemented, would have heightened tensions with North Korea and could have sent the region spiraling closer to war.

"It was an order. It wasn't, 'I'm thinking about it,'" one senior administration official said of Trump's directive. "We saw it as a done deal."

Behind the scenes, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Kelly devised a compromise, according to two administration officials, and convinced the President to agree to a scaled-down directive that would bar military personnel in South Korea from bringing their families there during future tours, but avoid a dramatic evacuation, a senior administration official said. A new memorandum was drafted, but it too was never implemented.
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