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Drama in Iran and Iraq Causes Rift within GOP

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Drama in Iran and Iraq Causes Rift within GOP

2020-01-09 11:08:451 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Rand Paul (Image source: Screenshot)

Republicans are sticking together regarding the impeachment trial, but the actions happening throughout the drama in Iran and Iraq are showing they aren't solid as it would seem and that the very small cracks that existed are beginning to widen. 

Donald Trump made the decision to send a drone to Iran to take out the country's top military commander, Qasem Soleimani. It hasn't been looked at very positively. Democrats are questioning the timing, suggesting he ordered the strike to take pressure off him during his impeachment trial. While the GOP was behind him initially, now that the airstrike has led Iran to retaliate with a missile attack on U.S. military bases in Iraq, they're beginning to bicker with each other.

Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said after the attack on the military bases, "The president has all the authority he needs under Article II [of the Constitution] to respond, and how he responds is yet to be determined, but he has that authority to respond," adding, "It was an act of war by a regime that for the last 40 years has been a cancer in the Mideast." 

Later, he added, "Let me say tonight, if you are watching television in Iran, I just got off the phone to the president; your fate is in your own hands in terms of the regime's economic viability. You continue this crap, you're going to wake up one day out of the oil business."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), however, thinks they shouldn't be debating right and wrong and should be sticking together. "The time will come to debate U.S. policy. Tonight American and allied troops have come under direct attack by a nation-state, and Americans must come together to support and protect them and respond appropriately," he tweeted. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), though, has been critical before of the foreign policy in Iran and is not letting up. "While I would have preferred they come home long ago, there is also no excuse for this action by Iran," he said. "We need to stop the escalation before it leads to another endless war in the Middle East,"

A closed-door briefing was given with top administration officials regarding the situation with Iran on Wednesday, and Graham emerged stating that Paul and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) were "overreacting" by criticizing comments that were made in the briefing. 

Both of the other senators said after the briefing they would support a resolution from Sen. Tim Kaine (-D-VA) to limit Trump's ability to take military action against Iran without Congress signing off on it. Lee said that an unnamed official warned that publicly debating the war powers would "embolden" Iran.

Paul opined that using a 2002 authorization as the legal basis for killing Soleimani was "absurd" and an "insult," adding, "I see no way in the world you could logically argue that an authorization to have war with Saddam Hussein has anything to do with having war with people currently in Iraq." 

"They're libertarians," Graham, a Trump ally, said, brushing off Paul's and Lee's comments. "I think they're overreacting, quite frankly. Go debate all you want to. I'm going to debate you. Trust me, I'm going to let people know that at this moment in time to play this game with the war powers act ... whether you mean to or not, you're empowering the enemy," leaving the assumption that he was the official that Lee would not name.

When Paul was asked about Graham's comments on CNN, he said the Senate Intelligence chair isn't familiar with the Constitution and that he was pulling out a "fake sort of drape of patriotism." He added, "I love my country as much as the next guy, but for him to insult and say that somehow we're not as patriotic as he is — he hasn't even read the history of the Constitution." 

"He insults the Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and what we do stand for in this republic by making light of it and accusing people of lacking patriotism," Paul continued. "I think that's a low, gutter type of response."

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