(CNSNews.com) – The ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Monday he wished House Democrats would join in praising President Trump for the killing of “Iran’s terror commander” as Republicans had when al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed during the Obama administration.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said he knew Democrats were relieved that the threat posed by Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani had been eliminated – “but they may not be able to say so, as much, publicly.”
Speaking during a committee hearing on the administration’s Iran policy, McCaul quoted Obama administration DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, a former counselor for the Department of Defense, as saying that Soleimani was “a lawful military objective” and that the president had been authorized to act against him with no further congressional authorization.
“I talked to him [Johnson] extensively about this strike. He used to authorize these strikes during the Obama administration – they conducted thousands of them,” McCaul said.
“I wish Democrats would join in praising the president as Republicans did when Osama bin Laden was killed,” he said.
“In many ways Soleimani was just as important, if not more important, of a target. I know that my colleagues on the other side are also relieved that this threat has been eliminated, but they may not be able to say so, as much, publicly.”
Bin Laden was tracked down to a compound in Pakistan and killed during a raid by U.S. Navy SEALS in May 2011.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), said he had wanted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify to provide answers about the administration’s legal basis for the strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
Pompeo – who is in California until Wednesday – declined to testify. Engel said he was sending a letter to Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper demanding that they produce answers to questions about the legal basis for the killing.
“If Secretary Pompeo is not going to cooperate with the committee, then we will consider very strongly taking other actions in the future, including subpoenas.”
Engel blamed the Iranian regime for much of the “escalation” in tensions that has taken place, saying that that is what one expects from “the world’s most prolific state-sponsor of terrorism,” which “believes that provocative and destabilizing behavior strengthens its hand.”
But the U.S., he said, “does not behave that way.”
“Being a world leader means you don’t emulate your adversaries. You use your power judiciously by trying to change behavior while seeking to defuse conflict and prevent bloodshed,” Engel said.
“That’s why the killing of Qassem Soleimani was such a shock – not because Soleimani was a good guy; just the opposite.”
“He had the blood of many Americans on his hands. He was a hardened terrorist. Democrats and Republicans, alike, know that the world is better off without him. But killing him was a massive escalation.”