Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, told Breitbart News on Saturday that he thinks “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is fueling the fervor among Democrats and the establishment media who are criticizing President Trump’s decision to eliminate Iranian Quds Force terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani.
“First and regrettably, the Democrats and the media really do suffer from something like Trump Derangement Syndrome,” Cotton said when asked why the media and left are so upset about this. “They can look at something that is unequivocally good, like removing a terrorist mastermind from the battlefield, and if Donald Trump did it, it must be bad. That’s true in domestic policy for sure, but regrettably it appears to be true in foreign policy and national security matters as well.”
Cotton then ripped the Democrats for veering more leftist than even former President Barack Obama was, noting that openly socialist leaders like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and other far-left Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are running the show in their party now.
“Second, the Democratic Party has just lurched farther to the left—even farther than Barack Obama himself,” Cotton said. “Some of the comments that Bernie Sanders has made, saying that Qasem Soleimani’s killing by Donald Trump is like Vladimir Putin killing dissidents or journalists – or Elizabeth Warren refusing to call Qasem Soleimani a terrorist but referring to him as a high-ranking government official of a foreign country – goes to show just how far they have lurched to the left and just how far down the path they have committed to appeasement with Iran. You can see the difference over the last two weeks: Appeasement during the Obama era got us Iran rampaging through the Middle East, targeting our troops, undermining friendly governments. Confrontation, action—by killing Qasem Soleimani—got Iran to pull in its horns, at least temporarily.”
After noting too that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi compared Trump eliminating Soleimani to Iran trying to take out Vice President Mike Pence, Cotton ripped former Vice President Joe Biden as just as extreme on the left as Sanders or Warren—a sign that the Democrat Party has shifted to radical extremes.
“Remember, too, Joe Biden—the supposedly centrist or moderate candidate for president—said it was a terrible mistake and destabilized the Middle East when in fact it was Iran led by men like Qasem Soleimani who have been destabilizing the Middle East through the decades,” Cotton said. “I’m reminded by what Secretary of Defense Bob Gates said about Joe Biden: He has been wrong about literally every foreign policy question for four decades, only now we have to correct it and say wrong for five decades.”
Cotton this week published an op-ed in the New York Times laying out his reasoning as to why President Trump was justified in ordering the strike that eliminated Soleimani. Asked about it, and to summarize his case for the legal justification of the strike, Cotton explained that Soleimani was a U.S.-designated terrorist who had killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq and was there plotting to kill more.
“Qasem Soleimani and the terrorist organization he led, the Quds Force, are U.S.-designated foreign terrorists,” Cotton said. “Qasem Soleimani was in a foreign country, Iraq, which is an active field of conflict where our troops are present based on the invitation of the host government, specifically to plot the deaths of more Americans. Our troops have the inherent right to self-defense, wherever they are present, and the Commander has the authority under his Constitutional powers as Commander in Chief to protect our troops and to protect our interests.”
Cotton, who served in Iraq as a platoon commander in the 101st Airborne Division before his election to Congress, further explained that Soleimani has not only killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq but has also been behind many other acts of brutality against the United States over the years.
“In Iraq alone, over the last 17 years, Qasem Soleimani killed over 600 Americans,” Cotton said. “As you say, he specialized in a particularly lethal kind of roadside bomb called the Explosively Formed Penetrator. I can tell you in my time over there as a platoon leader in the 101st Airborne in Iraq, the EFP was the single most deadly weapon we faced and there was really no defense against it. If you hit one, it would kill you or significantly hurt you and your troops. But, Qasem Soleimani has a lot more American blood on his hands than just in Iraq. They’ve been conducting the same kinds of attacks in Afghanistan. They’ve supported anti-American militias in places like Syria. He and his proxies have been behind attacks on our embassies in places like Beirut, along with the Marine barracks in Beirut. And remember he was met at the Baghdad airport not by an Uber driver but by Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, his chief terror proxy in Iraq who himself was responsible for the bombing of our embassy in Kuwait in 1983. Qasem Soleimani and his terror proxies have the blood of literally thousands of Americans on their hands.”
Earlier this week, Iran responded to Soleimani’s killing by launching a dozen ballistic missiles at U.S. installations in Iraq—causing minimal damage and killing nobody. In response, President Trump addressed the nation flanked by military leaders laying out how the U.S. will impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran in the wake of all this—and, as Cotton notes, making clear what the boundaries are from here on forward.
“The president’s red line remains clear: If Iran harms any American, anywhere, whether directly or through its proxies, the United States will hold Iran accountable and there will be severe consequences,” Cotton said. “We will not try to deny that they are responsible for attacks through terrorist proxies and we will not fail in the face of Iranian aggression. We shouldn’t assume that Iran is going to change its colors forever. Yes, they are now afraid again of the United States. But in a month or three months or six months, we shouldn’t be surprised if Iran begins to test the boundaries again. Fortunately, though, Iran now knows there are very firm and very clear boundaries that they cannot step across, unlike was the case during the Obama era.”
What’s more, the night Iran launched the ballistic missiles at U.S. based in Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran also shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet killing nearly 200 people on board in the crash that resulted. Iran originally denied it, but has since—as of Saturday morning—admitted being behind shooting the plane down, blaming incompetent personnel. Cotton dismissed attacks by some on the American left that Trump was somehow responsible for Iran doing this, noting that Iran is “solely responsible” for shooting down the plane.
“You mentioned the terrible and tragic shoot down of the Ukrainian airlines flight,” Cotton said. “Iran just admitted that they were responsible for that this morning. They blamed it on incompetent air defense personnel. Iran is solely responsible for that tragedy that killed more than 170 souls. I would also point out that if Iran is so incompetent that they’re shooting down civilian aircraft, why is this a military that we should be fearful of? It is a third rate power that has no chance of standing up to the United States military.”
Cotton, in this exclusive interview with Breitbart News, also addressed the House Democrats’ efforts to impeach President Trump. The House, before Christmas, adopted two Articles of Impeachment against the president after a hurried and controversial process of hearings, secret depositions, and lackluster fact-finding. Since the House adoption of the Articles of Impeachment, Speaker Pelosi has withheld their transmission to the U.S. Senate for a trial, claiming she was trying to leverage Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell into agreeing to Democrat demands for trial witnesses. On Friday, though, Pelosi relented, caved, and gave in, announcing she will transmit the articles to the Senate next week – even though McConnell gave her nothing she asked for.
“I’ve been astonished watching the prosecutors get cold feet after saying the impeachment of the president was an urgent national security priority,” Cotton said. “We expected Speaker Pelosi to send over the Articles of Impeachment eventually. She had locked herself into a box led by her far-left. I gather that the House will send over the Articles next week, and then the Senate will do the job that the House didn’t do, which is the Senate will act as the cool and deliberate sense of the American community, not as the enraged partisan majority you saw in the House of Representatives.”
When the trial happens and concludes in the U.S. Senate, Cotton said, he expects the Senate will acquit President Trump of all charges—and that he expects a bipartisan vote against convicting the president. The House votes against both of the Articles of Impeachment were bipartisan. On the first one, Abuse of Power, two Democrats—Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and now former Democrat Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ)—joined all Republicans in voting against it, while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voted “present.” On the second one, Obstruction of Congress, Peterson and Van Drew again voted against it and Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) joined them in voting “no,” while Gabbard again voted “present.” Van Drew left the Democrat Party and joined the GOP over this matter.
“I think there is nowhere near the 67 votes required to convict on these Articles of Impeachment,” Cotton said. “As in the House of Representatives, I expect more Democrats will vote with the president than Republicans will vote against the president.”