Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talks with CNN's Wolf Blitzer about President Donald Trump's decision to kill Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Paul said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo must be "brain dead" to believe killing Soleimani will get Iran back to the negotiating table.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Did the president's decision to kill General Soleimani make Americans safer or less safe?
SENATOR RAND PAUL (R-K): Well, I think that's a good question.
And I think the stated purpose by the administration was that they were going to prevent attacks on Americans. But I think, if you ask the question now, is it more or less likely that there will be attacks on Americans, I think it's much more likely.
The replacement for Soleimani is basically a clone, somebody who is a hardliner, who has worked with Soleimani for 20-some-odd years.
And so, while Soleimani may have been plotting attacks, and probably was, it's now a certainty that there will be attacks in revenge for his killing.
The other unintended consequence here is, you saw the chanting in the streets of Tehran. This has emboldened the hardliners. Iran is like any other country. There's a mixture of opinion. There are hardliners that never want to talk to America at all -- death to America.
But there are moderates and younger people who do like the West and who would talk to us.
I think what this does is, it lessens the voices of anybody that wants moderation or diplomacy. And even the Iranians will not be able to approach us on diplomacy until there's revenge -- until there's adequate revenge to satiate the people who want some kind of revenge.
And this is sad. I mean, the death of Soleimani, I think, is the death of diplomacy with Iran. I don't see an off-ramp. I don't see a way out of this.
BLITZER: So, did the president make a major mistake?
PAUL: I think that he got bad advice.
I think that, basically, even though he let John Bolton go, this is John Bolton. John Bolton is clapping and jumping up and down and rubbing his hands together, because this is what he wanted, to take a dramatic action, to kill one of their main leaders.
But the thing is, is it's going to have unintended consequences. And, really, as part of this whole recipe, the administration, mainly at John Bolton's behest, tore up the Iran agreement, placed a significant and severe embargo on Iran, and then killed one of their major generals. Nobody in their right mind would actually think that that would lead to negotiation.
So, when Secretary of State Pompeo is out there saying, well, maximum pressure, our goal is to get them back to the negotiating table, no naive child would believe that.
You would have to be brain dead to believe that we tear up the agreement, we put an embargo on you, and we kill your major general, and they're just going to crawl back to the table and say, what do you want, America.
I mean, military escalation is really what you would predict with this. I think most people who were thinking about this would have predicted that everything they have done with regard to Iran is leading now to this military escalation.
And I want to be careful that nothing justifies their military action, but it is predictable, given what path we have chosen.