Warren questions Iran attack timing with impeachment trial looming

Image: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, speaks at an event in Las Vegas on Nov.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, speaks at an event in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2019. Copyright David Becker Getty Images
Copyright David Becker Getty Images
By Ben Kamisar and Deepa Shivaram with NBC News Politics
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The Democratic presidential candidate said "people are starting to ask, why now did he do this?"


WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sunday raised the prospect that President Trump's decision to authorize last week's attack on a top Iranian general may have been linked to the pending impeachment trial in the Senate.

"Next week, Donald Trump faces the start, potentially, of an impeachment trial," the Democratic presidential candidate said in an interview with "Meet the Press."

"People are starting to ask, why now did he do this? Why not delay? And why this one is so dangerous is that he is truly taking us right to the edge of war. And that is something that puts us at risk, it puts the Middle East at risk, it puts the entire world at risk."

Warren also connected the American operation to Trump's call with the Ukrainian president that's at the center of the impeachment debate. She argued that during the call, Trump was "advancing his own personal political interest," and questioned whether political concerns also shaped Trump's decision to take out Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Warren has ramped up her criticism of Trump over the strike against Solemani in recent days.

On Thursday night, Warren called the Iranian leader a "murderer" in her initial reaction. "Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war," she tweeted.

On Friday, she criticized the president's actions more forcefully, tweeting that he has "repeatedly escalated tensions." with Iran.

"Now he's assassinated a senior foreign military official," she continued. "He's been marching toward war with Iran since his first days in office — but the American people won't stand for it."

American forces killed Soleimani in an airstrike near Bagdhad's airport last week as tensions continue to rise in the region.

The Trump administration has said the attack was a necessary move meant to stave off an imminent threat to American lives. American officials deem Soleimani as responsible for a recent rocket attack that killed a U.S. contractor, as well as for the previous attacks on Americans.

"There were, in fact, plots that he was working on that were aimed directly at significant harm to American interests throughout the region," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday on "Meet the Press."

"We would have been culpably negligent had we not taken this action. The American people would've said we were not doing the right thing to protect American lives."

Warren is not the only Democrat raising concerns about the Trump administration's actions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warned that the strike was done without Congressional approval and that it "risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence."

And Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that while it's clear Soleimani was a "bad guy," he expressed frustration that the administration did not consult with Congress or its allies abroad before the strike.

"I accept the notion that there was a real threat. The question of how imminent is something I need more information on," Warner said.

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