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'Great respect': Mike Lee praises Trump's restraint following Iran missile attacks after slamming briefing

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Sen. Mike Lee applauded President Trump for not escalating military action between Iran and the United States after the former launched a series of ballistic missiles at a pair of U.S.-Iraqi airbases.

"I have great respect for President Trump, for how he's handled this situation, and how he has handled other situations involving his immense power as commander in chief," the Utah Republican said Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation. "I believe more than any other president, in any lifetime, President Trump has shown restraint in how he’s exercised that power.”

It was a deviation in tone for Lee, a Republican who left a congressional hearing last week on Trump's decision to kill top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani livid.

"I had hoped and expected to receive more information outlining the legal, factual, and moral justification for the attack," Lee said last week after leaving the meeting. "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."

Trump first said Soleimani was killed due to the "imminent" threat he posed to American lives in the region. More recently, Trump said Soleimani — an officially designated terrorist — was plotting to blow up multiple U.S. embassies in the Middle East. Lee said Sunday he and fellow lawmakers were not told about the threat to the embassies during the briefing.

"I don't recall being told that there were four embassies. I'm sure there was a mention of at least one embassy in that briefing because there had been an attack on one of our embassies in the days leading up to general Soleimani’s killing," the Utah senator said, adding that while he wasn't pleased to learn of the plots on television, "The problem there is not with the president" but is "with those who were briefing us."

In recent months, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, led by Soleimani, has shot down U.S. drones in the Middle East, attacked Saudi oil fields, and propped up militias fighting U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Leading Democrats have expressed outrage that Trump did not seek congressional approval before ordering the takedown of Soleimani. Some have suggested he did so for his personal benefit or to distract from his impeachment by the U.S. house. Republicans, in defending Trump, have pointed instead to former President Barack Obama's policy toward Iran, which they often characterize as "weak" and "ineffective."

Following the Iranian attacks on the U.S.-Iraqi military bases, in which no Americans were killed, Trump said the nation "appears to be standing down" and slapped the country with sanctions rather than retaliating with more military force. 
Last Modified: Sunday، 12 January 2020 11:57 PM
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