Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on impeachment and Iran during a speech on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, lamenting that Democrats could "not maintain a shred, just a shred of national unity for five minutes, for five minutes before deepening the partisan trenches" in the wake of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani on Thursday.
"Look, the Senate is supposed to be the chamber where overheated partisan passions give way to sober judgment. Can we not at least wait until we know the facts?"
"Both situations demand serious, sober treatment from Congress. Both require that we put enduring national interests ahead of the factionalism and short-termism the Founding Fathers warned us about," McConnell said. "Could we at least remember we're all Americans first and we're all in this together? Meantime at this dangerous time, House Democrats continue to play political games with their partisan impeachment of the commander in chief."
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Unfortunately, Mr. President, seriousness is in short supply. Lately, in very short supply from the determined critics of President Trump and our nation, of course, is worse for it. Last Thursday, the United States took decisive action to end the murderous scheming of Iran's chief terrorist. Qasem Soleimani had spent numerous years in expanding Iran's influence.
Despite sanctions, despite prohibitions by the U.N. Security Council, he roamed throughout the region with impunity. His hand bore the blood of more American service members than anyone else alive. Hundreds of American families have buried loved ones because of him. Veterans have learned to live with permanent injuries inflicted by his terrorists. And in Iraq, and in Syria and beyond, the entire region felt the effects of his evil tactics. We should welcome his death and its complication of Tehran's terrorism industrial complex, but we must remain vigilant and soberly prepare for even further aggression.
Now, it is completely appropriate this decision would generate interest and questions from this body. We can and we should learn more about the intelligence and thinking that led to this operation and the plan to defend American personnel and interests in the wake of it. I'm glad the administration will hold an all-senators briefing on Wednesday. It will be led by Secretary of Defense Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, Secretary of State Pompeo, and CIA Director Haspel.
Unfortunately, in this toxic political environment, some of our colleagues rushed to blame our own government before even knowing the facts, rushed to split hairs about intelligence before being briefed on it, and rushed to downplay Soleimani's evil while presenting our own president as the villain. Soon after the news broke, one of our distinguished colleagues made a public statement that rightly called Soleimani a murder and then amazingly walked that message back when the far left objected to the factual statement. Since then, I believe all her criticism is directed at our own president.
Another of our democratic colleagues has been thinking out loud about Middle East policy on social media. Mere days before President Trump's decision, this senator tore into the White House for what he described as weakness and inaction. "No one fears us," he complained. "Trump has rendered America impotent in the Middle East." But since the strike, a complete 180. That same senator has harshly criticized our own president for getting tough.
Ludicrously, he and others on the left have accused the administration of committing an illegal act and equated the removal of this terrorist leader with a foreign power assassination of our own Secretary of Defense. Well, here's what one expert had to say about it. Jeh Johnson, President Obama's own former Pentagon general counsel and Secretary of Homeland Security. Here's what he said: "If you believe everything that our government is saying about General Soleimani, he was a lawful military objective and the president under his constitutional authority as commander in chief had ample domestic legal authority to take him out without, without an additional congressional authorization, whether he was a terrorist or a general in a military force that was engaged in armed attacks against our people, he was a lawful military objective." That's the former Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, Jeh Johnson, an expert on these things.
And our former colleague, Joe Lieberman, who ran for vice president on the Democratic ticket in 2000, wrote this morning that, "in their uniformly skeptical or negative reaction to Soleimani's death, democrats are creating the risk that the U.S. will be seen as acting and speaking with less authority abroad at this important time." That's how former -- a former Democratic senator sees it.
Look, the Senate is supposed to be the chamber where overheated partisan passions give way to sober judgment. Can we not at least wait until we know the facts? Can we not maintain a shred, just a shred of national unity for five minutes, for five minutes before deepening the partisan trenches? Must Democrats distaste of the president dominate every thought they express and every decision that they make? Is that really the seriousness that this situation deserves?
The full Senate will be briefed on Wednesday. I expect the committees of oversight will also conduct hearings and the senators will have plenty of opportunities to discuss our interests and policies in the region. So I would urge my colleagues to bring a full awareness of the facts, mindfulness of the long history of Iran's aggression towards the United States and its allies and a sober understanding of the threat Iran continues to pose. Could we at least remember we're all Americans first and we're all in this together? Meantime at this dangerous time, House Democrats continue to play political games with their partisan impeachment of the commander in chief.