Michigan Congressman Justin Amash said Donald Trump “sells troops” to Saudi Arabia or the highest bidder, as he joined several GOP lawmakers in blasting the strike on Iran General Qassem Soleimani without Congress’ approval.
Amash–who left the Republican Party in July over fears of a “partisan death spiral” and became an independent–disputed the “imminent” threat posed by Soleimani. He condemned Trump’s foreign policy actions in the Middle East and said the White House’s claim that Iran or Soleimani threatened “four embassies” is likely “totally made up.”
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he “didn’t see” any specific evidence Iran planned to attack four embassies, despite Trump’s claim an attack was “imminent.” Amash promptly rebuked that assertion, tweeting:
“The administration didn’t present evidence to Congress regarding even one embassy. The four embassies claim seems to be totally made up. And they have never presented evidence of imminence—a necessary condition to act without congressional approval—with respect to any of this.”
Trump responded to criticism over his unilateral decision to kill Soleimani by claiming the Iranian general was plotting to attack U.S. embassies — which Amash outright rejected.
“When President Trump lies or embellishes on a topic this sensitive, and administration officials then parrot his claims to avoid drawing his ire, the situation becomes extremely dangerous for our troops and the American people,” Amash remarked on Twitter Friday.
The former GOP rep also defended and applauded Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz for his “consistency” in supporting the War Powers Act to restrict the president’s authorization.
Amash also took aim at Trump praising his cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia — and their wealth–during the president’s recent interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.
“He sells troops,” Amash wrote on Saturday, posting the video clip of Trump suggesting he’d let Saudi Arabia use U.S. military forces in exchange for money.
“We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia,” the president said in the clip. “I said, listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us. They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank. We are going to help them, but these rich countries have to pay for it.
“South Korea gave us $500 million,” Trump continued. “I said you have got to help us along, we’ve got 32,000 soldiers in South Korea protecting you from North Korea — you’ve got to pay.”
In October, Amash made a very similar accusation against Trump to NBC News: “There are people who support the president, who believe things he says, but it’s pretty clear he’s not bringing home the troops. He’s just moving them to other parts of the Middle East … using our forces almost as mercenaries, paid mercenaries who are going to come in, as long as Saudi Arabia pays us some money, it’s good to go.”
Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul also criticized Trump’s interventionist foreign policy moves in the Middle East. He said Sunday on Meet the Press that the president has been influenced by war hawks who believe “the Iraq War was just great.” Paul said U.S. commanders and generals have been saying Iraq, Afghanistan and other wars in the Middle East “can’t be won” for more than a decade.