Bipartisan Group Of Senators: Trump Showed No Legal Cause For Killing Soleimani
Some senators were not thrilled with the Trump administration’s briefing on the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani this week, and it wasn’t just the Democrats complaining.
Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-KY) joined West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin in blasting the briefing as lacking in justification for the deadly strike that resulted in Iran’s retaliation against U.S. troops in Iraq.
Asked if the intelligence notification provided to Congress offered anything that gave him confidence that President Donald Trump made the right call in killin Soleimani, Manchin told MSNBC host Hallie Jackson: “No, I did not.”
“What I saw was basically the president’s responsibility to notify us within 24 hours,” the senator said. “He did that and gave many reasons for what he did. I wish that was made public. I wish that wasn’t top secret.”
Lee tore into the administration immediately following the briefing, saying it was “the worst briefing” on the military he had seen in his nine years in office.
“The briefing lasted only 75 minutes, whereupon our briefers left. This, however, is not the biggest problem I have with the briefing, which I would add was probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate,” Lee said, visibly upset.
Lee continued: "I find it insulting and I find it demeaning to the Constitution of the United States. It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong. ... They are appearing before a coordinate branch of government responsible for their funding, for their confirmation, for any approval of any military action they might take. They had to leave after 75 minutes while they were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and not debate this in public. I find that to be absolutely insane.”
The Utah Republican also said though he had gone into the briefing “undecided” on joining a Senate war-powers resolution put forward by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), he left the meeting “decided” and will add his name to the list of supporters.
Andrew Lawrence on Twitter
“Republican senator Mike Lee blasts the Trump administrations post-Iran briefing, says they were told they could not dissent from Trump, couldn't debate it, and if Trump needed justification to go to war "I'm sure we could think of something" https://t.co/bfyPqoSf8c”
Paul expressed similar frustrations with the briefing and “said it is egregious that the administration is using a 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Saddam Hussein after 9/11 to justify attacks on Iran in 2019.”
“That is absurd. That’s an insult,” he added.
Like his colleague from Utah, Paul also said he would support some type of war-powers resolution limiting Trump’s power to take military action without the approval of Congress.
As for the rest of the Senate Republicans, no others have come forward to express distaste for the briefing. Some, like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), blasted Lee and Paul for sharing their less-than-supportive opinions on the briefing and the president’s actions.
Graham said the two senators were “overreacting” and accused them of “empowering the enemy,” ostensibly because they put their responsibility to uphold the Constitution over blind support for Trump.
Paul said of Graham’s comments: "I think it’s sad when people have this fake sort of drape of patriotism, and anybody that disagrees with them is not a patriot … I love my country. I have many family members that serve in the military and continue to serve. I love my country as much as the next guy … I think that’s a low, gutter type of response.”