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GOP leader makes the disturbing case for Trump's authority to kill 'bad people'

GOP leader makes the disturbing case for Trump's authority to kill 'bad people'
C-SPAN

As President Donald Trump's violent conflict with Iran became the focal point of Washington debate, Republicans returned to their default attack line in partisan foreign policy debates: calling Democratic critics terrorist sympathizers.


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) used this smear on Thursday during a press conference, and then he took his defense of Trump's actions to an even disturbing level. He directly called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments about the president's killing of Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani, which was widely viewed as an extremely provocative action.

“We have no illusions about Iran, no illusions about Soleimani, who was a terrible person," Pelosi said. "But it's not about how bad they are, it's about how good we are, protecting the people in a way that prevents war and will not have us producing again and again generations of veterans who are suffering.”

In defending Trump's decision — which had a highly dubious legal and factual justification — McCarthy hit back at Pelosi.

"I never thought that there would be a moment in time when the speaker of the House of Representatives would actually be defending Suleimani," McCarthy said. "Did you listen to what the speaker just said? 'Suleimani was a bad person, but...' There is no 'but'! He's a bad person because he killed American soldiers. He's a bad person because he led us against the embassy. He's a bad person because he went after the tankers. He's a bad person because he bombed the refinery. He's a bad person because he was planning more against Americans. The president was right in his actions, and we are safer today for it."

The problem with this reasoning is that it makes the case that there are no limitations on Trump's authority to kill people he determines to be "bad." It doesn't invoke any legal or constitutional justifications for the strike, just the idea that Suleimani was "bad." And of course, it doesn't allow for any explanation of why other "bad" people around the world — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — aren't the proper targets of assassination.

Of course, McCarthy doesn't really believe what he's saying — that a person being bad is all that is needed to justify targeted assassination. But the priority of the GOP is now, at all times, to defend the president, and apparently he can't come up with any better defenses. Which on its own is a pretty damning indictment of Trump's conduct.

Watch the clip below:

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