Qasem Soleimani, one of Iran’s top military commanders, was killed by a U.S. drone strike early Friday. President Donald Trump tweeted that Soleimani “was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people” and that he “should have been taken out many years ago!”
Democrats expressed concern about escalating tensions in the region and questioned whether Congress was properly consulted.
Here is what Marylanders in Washington are saying:
Sen. Ben Cardin (Democrat and member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee):
“President Trump’s decision to kill Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad is a provocative act taken without congressional consultation or authorization, the potential consequences of which are unknown. The Pentagon in its statement characterized the strike as ‘a defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad,’ but the Trump administration’s repeated confrontations with Iran tell a different story. Dating to his withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement in 2018, this president has unfailingly raised tensions with Iran, and his latest act puts Americans at risk by all but inviting retaliation against U.S. and allied interests inside and outside of Iraq. There is no imminent threat aside from that which the president has provoked. President Trump should stop the provocations and allow diplomacy to take root.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (Democrat):
“President Trump came into office saying he wanted to end America’s wars in the Middle East, but today we are closer to war with Iran than ever before and the Administration’s reckless policy over the last 3 years has brought us to the brink. Make no mistake, from day one President Trump and ideologues within his Administration have escalated tensions with Iran without any strategy. They launched their “maximum pressure campaign” without any realistic goals.”
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (Democrat, Baltimore County and a former member of the Gang of Eight — congressional members who are briefed on classified intelligence information):
“As a former member of the Gang of Eight, Soleimani has been a threat that continues to keep me up at night. He was the head of a U.S. designated terrorist organization who was responsible for the murder of hundreds if not thousands of Americans and was actively plotting more. He was one of the most dangerous men in the world and I feel no sadness over his death. Now, Congress demands to know why this Administration saw fit to carry out this operation without authorization. Previous administrations have prioritized Congressional collaboration, especially when considering activity against nation-state actors."
Rep. Andy Harris (Republican, Baltimore County and Eastern Shore):
“I support the President’s actions to do whatever it takes to bring terrorists like Soleimani to justice. Iranian support for terror worldwide has to be stopped, and the use of force to stop Iranian-backed terrorist attacks on Americans, our soldiers, and our allies is rightly justified.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer (Democrat, Southern Maryland and House majority leader):
“The death of Qasem Soleimani should be welcomed by all who support peace and oppose terrorism. He was an enemy of peace and one of the world’s most dangerous proponents and practitioners of terror. He has spent his last two decades building a force that threatens America, Israel, and innocent people around the world. This event, however, continues the impulsive and episodic actions emblematic of President Trump’s foreign and military policy. The Administration must take immediate steps to protect our personnel and facilities in anticipation of an Iranian counterstrike. Moreover, this strike raises serious concerns that the Administration did not seek Congressional authorization of military actions abroad that will put Americans in harm’s way."
Rep. Anthony Brown (Democrat, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, and House Armed Services Committee member):
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“President Trump has failed to effectively engage or counter Iran and has forced the United States into an endless cycle of escalation that risks wider war, endangers American lives, and has made both the region and the world less safe. The assassination of General Soleimani may serve to eliminate one threat, but it most likely undercuts our credibility, isolates us from our allies and partners and emboldens Iran. President Trump has left us with little hope of reducing tensions or deterring Iranian aggression let alone their nuclear program.”