Paul fires back at Graham over Iran criticism: 'He insults the Constitution'

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill Democratic senator to offer amendment halting 'military weaponry' given to police Second senator tests positive for coronavirus antibodies MORE (R-Ky.) fired back at Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHouse Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on police brutality next week McCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony MORE (R-S.C.) after the South Carolina Republican accused him of emboldening Iran, saying Graham "insults the Constitution" and is making a "low, gutter type of response."

Graham told reporters on Wednesday that he thought Paul and Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Facebook employees speak up against content decisions | Trump's social media executive order on weak legal ground | Order divides conservatives The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US GOP deeply divided over Trump's social media crackdown MORE (R-Utah) were "overreacting" by criticizing comments made during a closed-door Iran briefing.

"They're libertarians," Graham said. "I think they're overreacting, quite frankly. Go debate all you want to. I'm going to debate you. Trust me, I'm going to let people know that at this moment in time to play this game with the war powers act ... whether you mean to or not, you're empowering the enemy." 

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Paul, asked about the comments during an interview with CNN, argued that Graham isn't familiar with the Constitution and was invoking a "fake sort of drape of patriotism." 

"I love my country as much as the next guy, but for him to insult and say that somehow we're not as patriotic as he is — he hasn't even read the history of the Constitution," Paul said. 

"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," Paul added. 

The back-and-forth between Paul and Graham comes after a closed-door briefing with top administration officials on the U.S. airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Paul and Lee both said after the briefing that they will support a resolution from Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Trump's move to use military in US sparks backlash | Defense officials take heat | Air Force head calls Floyd's death 'a national tragedy' Pentagon: Esper, Milley 'not aware' of Trump's church photo-op ahead of time Democratic senator plans defense bill amendment to bar using troops against protesters MORE (D-Va.) that would limit Trump's ability to take military action against Iran without congressional signoff. 

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Lee told reporters afterward that an official, whom he declined to name, warned that publicly debating Trump's war powers would "embolden" Iran. 

Paul said after the briefing that using a 2002 authorization as the legal basis for the strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad was "absurd" and an "insult."

"I see no way in the world you could logically argue that an authorization to have war with Saddam Hussein has anything to with having war with people currently in Iraq," Paul told reporters.