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Lindsey Graham Accuses Rand Paul, Mike Lee of ‘Empowering the Enemy’ by Trying to Rein in Trump’s War Making Powers

Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Capitol Hill, March 25, 2019 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senator Lindsey Graham had strong words Wednesday for his fellow Republican senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee, saying they are “empowering the enemy” by supporting a Democratic resolution to limit President Trump’s ability to respond militarily to Iranian aggression.

“They’re libertarians. I think they’re overreacting, quite frankly,” Graham told reporters after a closed-door briefing on Iran with administration officials.

Paul and Lee emerged frustrated from the briefing and announced they would support the “War Powers Resolution” introduced by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine. The resolution would require that the president obtain congressional approval ahead of further military action against Iran. Democrats drafted the resolution after the administration assassinated top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, on Friday in a Baghdad airstrike.

Lee called the briefing “insulting” due to its brevity and lack of substance and remarked that it was the worst military briefing he has ever attended.

“I find this insulting and demeaning to the Constitution of the United States,” the Utah Republican said. “It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong.”

“Go debate all you want to. I’m going to debate you, trust me,” Graham said in response to Lee’s demand that Congress debate the merits of further escalation with Iran. “I’m going to let people know that in this moment in time, to play this game with the War Powers Act, which I think is unconstitutional, whether you mean to or not, you’re empowering the enemy.”

Paul hit back at Graham on Thursday, accusing the South Carolina lawmaker of assuming a false “drape of patriotism.”

“I think it’s sad when people have this fake sort of drape of patriotism and anybody that disagrees with them is not a patriot,” the Kentucky Republican said of Graham. “He insults the Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and what we do stand for in this republic by making light of it and accusing people of lacking patriotism. I think that’s a low, gutter type of response.”

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