Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that President Donald Trump’s original instincts were correct about Syria, that America should not get involved, and “we should get out of Syria.”
President Trump ordered strikes on Syrian forces after reports alleged that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons.
Reps. Massie and Justin Amash (R-MI) were two of the most prominent Republicans to oppose Trump’s strikes on Syrian forces.
Congressman Massie, in reaction to the news that Trump ordered strikes on Syrian forces, wrote last Friday, “I haven’t read France’s or Britain’s ‘Constitution,’ but I’ve read ours and nowhere in it is presidential authority to strike Syria.”
Last week, Amash said Trump’s strikes on Syria were “unconstitutional, illegal, and reckless.”
Massie told Breitbart News, “I don’t think it was a good idea. I don’t think the president should have struck Syria. In any event, he should have gone to Congress to get approval.”
The Kentucky Republican argued that the United States has no coherent strategy in Syria. Massie believes that the Syria strike runs counter to the stated goals of ending the civil war in Syria as well as limiting Russian and Iranian influence in the country.
Massie told Breitbart News, “There is a not a coherent strategy in Syria right now. For instance, one of the goals the White House has stated is not to have Iran and Russia so deeply embedded, yet we drive Assad into the arms of Russia and Iran when we strike him; he has to rely upon defensive weapons provided by the Russians. Our activity is counter to our stated goals in Syria, which is to have the Syria war be over with and to have Russia and Iran less involved.”
“It is my opinion that we made it worse, and doing nothing would be better than what we’re doing,” Massie contended. “We have prolonged the civil war by keeping it balanced by degrading Assad’s ability to win the civil war.”
Other lawmakers have suggested that intelligence forces have yet to confirm whether Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, in fact, used chemicals weapons on his people.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told CNN on Tuesday that “Assad either must be the dumbest dictator on the planet–or maybe he did not do it.”
I have yet to see evidence that he did do it. The intelligence agencies claim they have that evidence, but think about it, does it make any sense? He’s been winning the war for the last couple of years. The only thing that would galvanize the war to Assad directly is a chemical attack.
Rep. Massie echoed Sen. Paul’s argument, suggesting that defense and intelligence forces did not provide members of Congress definitive proof that Assad used chemicals weapons.
Massie told Breitbart News, “I can tell you this: If they have proof, they did not provide any info in our classified briefing from Mattis, the secretary of state, and director of National Intelligence. They did not provide evidence today [Tuesday] in our classified briefing. Don’t get me wrong; these briefings are generally low-information meetings, but this one was lower than normal. There was nothing that was provided in there that’s not on the Internet.”
“They would be able to show it to Congress. We were in a classified setting, and we are all qualified to receive classified information, and it has been provided in the past for other things. They did not provide anything to us,” Massie added.
On Tuesday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) entered the town of Douma, Syria, to investigate whether Assad did use chemical weapons.
Massie suggested that President Trump’s instincts to avoid Syria were right.
Massie said, “I think Trump’s instincts in 2013, I think Trump’s instincts when he was campaigning, and I think his instincts two days before the attack were all correct. Those instincts were that we should not get involved in Syria, and we should get out of Syria.”
The Kentucky Republican argued that the Syria strikes run “counter to his instincts and what’s popular in the United States.”
“This is not sustainable financially, not diplomatically, not in the long-term interest of Syrian civilians,” Massie added.
He further stated that the Trump administration received support from other global powers. However, Congress has yet to formally back the strikes.
Massie concluded, “The White House said that they received support from Japan, NATO, the G7, even the Gulf Cooperative Council; I like to point out that Congress has not issued a statement of support. That is the most important statement of support if you want to put America first. They could ask for it now; they’re not doing it. They could probably get it from Congress, but my colleagues do not want to go on the record.”