Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch, R-Idaho, defended President Trump’s decision to order the drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
“The Story” host Martha MacCallum reported that shortly before Risch joined the program, an Iraqi official claimed five people were killed in a new airstrike that targeted vehicles carrying members of an Iranian-backed militia. She asked Risch if he had been briefed on the report and if he had any information for the public.
Risch said he did have information about the latest reported airstrike, but added that he would wait to share it with the American people until it is declassified or released in a formal statement.
“The actual attack took place about an hour and 45 minutes ago,” he said, “But, look, the president acted on very specific information that he had that came from the intelligence agencies. That information was rock-solid.”
Risch said Trump is not customarily inclined to take offensive action or risk military escalation, but that he “had to do what he had to do” when he ordered Thursday’s deadly drone strike on Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport.
“This president hates doing this sort of thing. He doesn’t like doing kinetic attacks,” he said. “We hope that the Iranians will step back, take a breath, and understand they have been escalating this for a long time.”
Risch said that if Trump took no action Thursday and Soleimani orchestrated new attacks, Democrats and critics would bash the president for not taking out the Iranian officer.
He added that he is certain America is safer thanks to the airstrike against Soleimani and that critics in the media are simply spreading “vitriol” against the president as they routinely do.
In that regard, MacCallum played a clip of author and liberal journalist Jonathan Alter, who said on MSNBC that Soleimani “deserved” to be droned, but that it was an example of the “right decision, wrong commander-in-chief.”
“The hate and the vitriol amongst most of the Democrats and, for that matter, some — not all — of the national media, there is no bounds to this,” Risch said in response, going on to call some of Trump’s critics “deranged,” and claiming they will never give him credit for any action.