Trump’s actions in Iran, beginning with the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani, have caused a rare fracture in the Republican party, with Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul announcing that they intend to support the “War Powers Resolution” proposed by Tim Kaine. The resolution, like similar ones proposed and adopted in the past, would limit the president’s ability to declare war on a foreign nation without congressional approval.
Mike Lee started this bit of infighting with flair, blasting a briefing by top Trump administration officials on Iran as “absolutely insane,” among other things.
FALSE. Conservatives Mike Lee and Rand Paul confirmed there was nothing even remotely "compelling" about the briefing and that important questions were NOT answered.— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) January 9, 2020
If @marcorubio will lie about this, you can no longer believe anything he says. pic.twitter.com/cdh7ipagH8 https://t.co/9sSYZCydul
“They had to leave after 75 minutes while they’re in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public,” said Lee. He ultimately called it the “worst briefing I’ve seen—at least on a military issue—in my nine years.”
Lee went on to call the statements made by the officials who gave the briefing “un-American” and “unconstitutional.”
“I find this insulting and demeaning…to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happens to hold. I find it insulting and demeaning to the Constitution of the United States,” said Lee.
The senator says he now supports the War Powers Resolution specifically because of that briefing, and he’s not alone; Senator Rand Paul has joined him in declaring support for the resolution, though he is basing his decision more on his libertarian beliefs.
“I think we need to have a debate about separation of powers,” said Paul.
Just asked Graham about the criticism from Paul and Lee over Iran briefing. “I think they’re overreacting. I’m going to let people know ..to play this game with the war powers act, which I think is unconstitutional, is that whether you mean to or not, you’re empowering the enemy” pic.twitter.com/pnlISwkORb— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 8, 2020
Fellow Republican Senators attacked Lee and Paul for their position, with Lindsey Graham accusing them of “overreacting” and “empowering the enemy.”
“Go debate all you want to,” said Graham. “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.”
Paul then called Graham’s remarks “a low, gutter type of response” and accused him of fake patriotism.
“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,” he said on CNN.
Meanwhile, Fox News’ Lou Dobbs has already compared Lee to Benedict Arnold for stepping one foot out of line with the party.
Lou Dobbs attacks America for not understanding we have an obligation to serve Donald Trump— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) January 7, 2020
"It is a shame that this country which is benefitting so much from this president's leadership does not understand their obligations to this leader who is making it possible" pic.twitter.com/z7wFNroxJJ
“Senator Mike Lee having something of a snit fit today. He came out in support of Tim Kaine’s—that’s right, the former Democratic candidate for vice president—to limit President Trump’s military authority,” he said on his segment Lou Dobbs Tonight. “Senator Lee’s Benedict Arnold impression and his announcement follows a classified military briefing on Iran that Lee called the worst he has ever seen.”
What will the rest of the week bring? Make some popcorn, because this fight is getting good.