Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blasted Pete Buttigieg (D) after the former South Bend mayor claimed that the 176 individuals aboard the Ukrainian airliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran were victims of an “unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat” spurred by the Trump administration.
The Ukrainian airliner’s crash coincided with Iran launching over a dozen ballistic missiles targeting Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. U.S. officials suspect that the plane may have been shot down by Iran, calling the scenario “highly likely.”
“Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat,” Buttigieg tweeted in part, subtly hinting at President Trump’s decision to eliminate Iran’s top terror chief, Qasem Soleimani:
Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat.
My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of all 176 souls lost aboard this flight. https://t.co/zWaVgWxfdL
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 9, 2020
Cruz took issue with Buttigieg’s implication that the Trump administration was responsible, in part, for the tragic loss.
“Uh, Pete, they weren’t ‘caught in the middle.’ They were shot down BY IRAN. Military incompetence by the leading state sponsor of terrorism,” Cruz responded.
“Just because Dems hate Trump doesn’t justify false equivalence w/ Iran,” he added. “Soleimani was a brutal terrorist who killed hundreds of Americans”:
Uh, Pete, they weren’t “caught in the middle.” They were shot down BY IRAN. Military incompetence by the leading state sponsor of terrorism. Just because Dems hate Trump doesn’t justify false equivalence w/ Iran. Soleimani was a brutal terrorist who killed hundreds of Americans. https://t.co/KiGS8p5kHL
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 9, 2020
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Thursday that evidence suggested Iran shot down the jetliner, which had 63 Canadians aboard.
“The intelligence evidence suggests very clearly a possible and probable cause for the crash,” Trudeau stated at a press conference.
“I have my suspicions,” Trump said of the plane’s crash. “It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake.”
“Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don’t think that’s even a question,” Trump added.
Iranian officials refused to hand over the black boxes of the plane and initially claimed that the crash was linked to a mechanical failure. Iranian investigators now say that the memories of the boxes are damaged, leaving incomplete information.
The New York Times on Thursday published a video purportedly showing an Iranian missile striking the plane.