Senate

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

Greg Nash

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) fired back at Sen. Lindsey Graham (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 Lee (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.” 

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 Kaine (D-Va.) that would limit Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran without congressional signoff. 

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.

Tags Lindsey Graham Mike Lee Rand Paul Tim Kaine

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