There is a battle brewing in the Senate between the more hawkish members of the Senate and the Trump Administration. During President Donald Trump’s run for President, he was critical of President Bush’s push for the Iraq War and President Obama’s push to get involved in a civil war in Libya and Syria. On these issues, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) stood firmly with Presidents Bush and Obama because a they are interventionists.
In my prior work in the United States Senate, I observed all of these members and they are very different people, yet they share a political insiders view of the world that has not served average Americans well. All three have been in Washington too long and have lost touch with reality. They seem to care more about the affirmation from other Senators and the DC political class that includes foreign ambassadors and lobbyists.
McCain and Graham have voiced strong opposition to the Trump Administration on many issues and have used that opposition to raise their profile.
Politico reported on January 31, 2017 in a story titled “McCain, Graham torment Trump” the following:
A parade of Republicans this weekend blasted President Donald Trump for his executive order on immigration. Trump only seemed to notice two of them: John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
The two senators are Trump’s most persistent intraparty critics, lashing him for his views on trade, immigration and foreign policy. And perhaps most notably, they seem to get under Trump’s skin — the new president fired off a tweet in response to their latest criticism, calling the pair “weak on immigration” along with several other barbs.
Graham and McCain have been very critical of Trump for his executive order banning refugees from a number of countries for a period of time and for Trump’s alleged close ties to Russia. McCain and Graham have marginalized themselves within the Republican Party for repeated public attacks on the President. They seem to take perverse joy in attacking other members who they perceive not being supportive of interventionist nation building and the Trump Administration as a whole. Graham likes to brag that he didn’t even vote for President Trump.
One way they have marginalized themselves is to oppose the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) which allows American citizens to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a means to find out the truth about support and funding for the 9/11 attacks. Fourteen of the 19 hijackers were from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. American officials have long suspected the Saudi government knew about and financially assisted the operation.
Ironically, McCain and Graham rail against the Russians and how we need to impose new sanctions on that nation because Russia is a threat. Yet, they seem to have an affinity for the interests of the Saudi Arabian government who have been incubators of international terrorism and proven to be a nation far more of a national security threat than Russia.
While JASTA had massive support of Congress, Graham has crafted up an amendment to the law that guts and negates the intent of the law. For some unknown reason, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has joined this effort. Other Senators would be making a mistake in opposing 9/11 victims legal right to a day in court.
President Donald Trump supports the law and, because he is a New Yorker who was in New York City during the attacks, Trump has a special understanding for the plight of the victims of 9/11. The GOP foreign policy establishment would like to see JASTA repealed because they are more about better relations with Saudi Arabia as a means to marginalize some middle eastern terrorist groups than the legal right of American victims to have a day in court.
McCain and Graham have shown selective outrage when they rail against the Russians, who deserve to be railed against, yet stand down about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Trump Administration has new leaders in Steve Bannon, Steven Miller and Jared Kushner who have a very different view of foreign policy than Sens. McCain and Graham. Trump’s position on JASTA is just and strong, and he has proven resistant to the Republican establishment forces who are trying to ignore the harm of 9/11 families for better relations with the Saudis.
Insiders on Capitol Hill are watching this epic battle between two Senate veterans (some would say Dinosaurs) and team put together by President Donald Trump who are rocking the political establishment. My money is on Trump’s team to win this fight because they are on the right side of the issue.
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