Lindsey Graham Defends Trump After Soleimani Killing: Iranian General 'Signed His Own Death Warrant'

During one of Sen. Lindsey Graham's multiple appearances on Sean Hannity's shows Friday, the Republican lawmaker defended President Donald Trump's decision to kill Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani, saying the general "signed his own death warrant."

Graham's series of Fox News interviews followed the announcement that Trump had ordered the drone strike that killed Soleimani as he was traveling through Iraq on Thursday. Iran quickly vowed to hit back, leading to speculation that the president, who campaigned on a promise to "end endless wars" in the Middle East, may have instigated a new one.

Host Sean Hannity introduced his guest saying: "You know a lot about Soleimani. My research show you were mentioning him, along with John McCain, many years ago."

"Yeah, I know he's dead." Graham replied. "And the reason he's dead—he signed his own death warrant—he miscalculated Donald Trump. After the contractor was killed from Shia militia controlled by Soleimani, [the] president made a decision he would not tolerate any more attacks against American interests. And we caught the guy red-handed planning another attack and the president killed him and the world is safer."

The American contractor, a civilian working for the Department of Defense, was killed in a missile attack on a U.S. military base in Northern Iraq on December 27. U.S. intelligence officials immediately suspected that Iraq's Iran-backed Shiite militias may have been behind the assault. As commander of the Quds Force, the branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for extraterritorial operations—including support for proxy groups abroad such as the Iraqi militias— Soleimani was often called the "Shadow Commander" in Western headlines.

While U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were quick to condemn Soleimani's military legacy following his death, some also expressed dismay at the the president's seeming disregard for the War Powers Resolution, which states: "The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances..."

During his appearance with Hannity, Graham said: "And to my Democratic colleagues: Every commander in chief has the inherent authority to protect our troops in the field. He had all the authorization he needs. And to Congresswoman Omar: What would you want the president to do? Sit on the sidelines and watch people get killed?"

Graham reiterated the remark in a Saturday morning tweet. The senator has been very active on social media since Thursday, posting defenses of the president.

President @realDonaldTrump as Commander in Chief has the authority and obligation to protect American forces in harms way.

He did the right thing.

— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 4, 2020

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of the House of Representatives' progressive Democrat "squad," had once again butted heads with Republican colleagues earlier in the day with a tweet calling Soleimani's assassination a "distraction" and accusing the president of wanting a war.

Hannity jumped at the opportunity to repeat one of his favorite criticisms of Democrats. "Now imagine, say, six months, a year from now, we found out we had actionable intelligence that at Baghdad's airport Soleimani was there and President Trump did nothing. They'd want to impeach him for that, like they'd impeach him if he cured cancer at this point," he said.

Graham concurred before pivoting back to his defense of the president's military tactics. "He acted in a defensive way, in a preemptive way," the senator said, repeating the argument that Soleimani had been plotting an attack at on Americans at the time of his death.

"And here's the question: What's next?" Graham continued. To the Iranian regime—I don't know if you watch Sean's show or not, but you probably should—If you come after us again, we'll come after you again. If you up the ante, you better be concerned about your oil fields," Graham quipped.

"Hey senator, I happened to like your tweet last night," Hannity interjected as Graham issued warnings.

"Keep tweeting like that, you're getting right up there with the president," Hannity urged as they signed off.

If Iranian aggression continues and I worked at an Iranian oil refinery, I would think about a new career.

— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 3, 2020
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) arrives to speak to reporters outside of his office at the U.S. Capitol as debate on the articles of impeachment against President Trump continues on December 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. On January 3 Graham went on the Fox News show 'Hannity' to defend Trump's order to kill Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. Drew Angerer/Getty