Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) shot back at his fellow Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for demanding that President Trump ask for Congressional approval for the airstrikes he ordered on a Syrian airfield Thursday. He made the comments on CNN Friday to Wolf Blitzer.
Blitzer read Paul's statement about the airstrike to McCain and asked for his reaction: "While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked. The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer, and Syria will be no different."
"I don't really react to Senator Paul," McCain said disdainfully, "we're just too different, and he doesn't really have any real influence in the United States Senate."
Blitzer reminded him that many other Senators agreed with Paul, and McCain said he would talk to them but not address Paul's statement.
"So you don't even want to respond to that," Blitzer tried to ask again.
"Pardon me, I don't pay any attention frankly, to what Senator Paul says," McCain reiterated his disdain.
"But tell me why you disagree with him so much," Blitzer asked.
"Because he's wrong," McCain replied.
"Just on this issue or a whole bunch of other issues?" Blitzer responded.
"Every other issue that I know of, that has to do with national security," McCain answered.
McCain said that he wasn't surprised by the attack for several reasons. "I got a call before the launch from Mattis and also from Kelly," he said, "but when I talked to [President Trump] the morning before, I could tell that he was deeply concerned. Now, to the point where I thought it was entirely possible that he would decide to act on the advice of his national security team."
Sen. John McCain says he was not surprised when he saw the Syria strike https://t.co/eUo207kn6N— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 7, 2017
McCain also said that if Trump followed his advice to press on against President Bashar al-Assad, that he wouldn't need Congressional approval for that either.
"He does not," he said about needing approval from Congress. "President Reagan didn't need it when after the bombing at a disco in Berlin that killed Americans, striking Libya. But if this is a long term campaign, then I think we oughta examine it."
"But I'll tell you the practical problems," he explained. "The practical problems is, and I've dealt with this issue for a long time, and that is, it's called the War Powers Act, is the president is the commander in chief. And he proposes, Congress disposes, as far as money is concerned. But as far as the actual mechanics of the war are concerned, there's never been agreement. The War Powers Act has never been challenged in the courts because every president, Republican and Democrat, has been afraid that it was going to be ruled unconstitutional."
Rand Paul has been an outspoken critic of any military action made without Constitutional approval, a position that not many members of Congress have agreed with publicly.
Trump ordered the strike on a Syrian airfield in retaliation for a chemical attack on civilians many blame on President Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of State Tillerson said there was no doubt that Assad was guilty of the chemical attacks.