After the Biden administration approved an airstrike targeting Iranian-backed militias in Syria on Thursday, both President Joe Biden and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki began taking heat for having condemned the Trump administration for similar strikes in the past.
The tweets being scrutinized were posted by Joe Biden in 2019 and Psaki in early April of 2017. Psaki tweeted shortly after then-President Donald Trump approved a missile strike in Syria in response to a Syrian government chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 civilians. Biden’s tweet was in response to Trump ordering and then canceling an airstrike on Iran.
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Trump said then in remarks at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
Shortly after the Trump-ordered military strike, Psaki — who was serving as a liberal political commentator for CNN at the time — took to Twitter to question Trump’s legal right to launch such strikes.
“Also what is the legal authority for strikes?” Psaki asked. “Assad is a brutal dictator. But Syria is a sovereign country.”
Also what is the legal authority for strikes? Assad is a brutal dictator. But Syria is a sovereign country.
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) April 7, 2017
In 2019, Biden blasted then-President Trump’s “erratic, impulsive actions,” claiming that “no president should order a military strike without fully understanding the consequences.”
“We don’t need another war in the Middle East, but Trump’s actions toward Iran only make that more likely,” he wrote.
Trump’s erratic, impulsive actions are the last thing we need as Commander-in-Chief. No president should order a military strike without fully understanding the consequences. We don’t need another war in the Middle East, but Trump’s actions toward Iran only make that more likely.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 23, 2019
After Biden launched an airstrike against Iran-backed militias in Syria on Thursday, many across the political spectrum took to Twitter to note the hypocrisy in both tweets.
“And I quote… ‘No one should order a military strike without fully understanding the consequences… we don’t need another war in the Middle East…,’’’ wrote freshman GOP Rep. Nancy Mace.
— Nancy Mace (@NancyMace) February 26, 2021
“Perhaps you & your comms chief @jrpsaki should revisit some of your old tweets during Trumps era & honour your own statements!” wrote Lebanese-British journalist Hala Jaber.
— Hala Jaber (@HalaJaber) February 26, 2021
“If Biden could take his own advice on this one, that would be great…,” wrote journalist Rachel Blevins.
If Biden could take his own advice on this one, that would be great… https://t.co/8reZTk6LtO
— Rachel Blevins (@RachBlevins) February 26, 2021
“This Tweet did not age well,” wrote attorney Jeffrey Marty.
“Trump started zero wars,” he added. “Biden is starting one in his first month.”
This Tweet did not age well.
Trump started zero wars.
Biden is starting one in his first month. https://t.co/UF1SNfezMz
— Jeffrey Marty (@Jeffrey_Marty) February 26, 2021
“Amen, Joe,” wrote conservative talk show host Dan O’Donnell.
Amen, Joe. https://t.co/yMnDKaqR4c
— Dan O'Donnell (@DanODonnellShow) February 26, 2021
“Oh the irony,” wrote one Twitter user.
“I’m sure old Joe and Jen will circle back on this one,” wrote another.
Psaki’s questioning of Trump’s legal authority to launch a similar strike in 2017 was equally ridiculed.
“Good question from 2017,” wrote MSNBC political analyst Mehdi Hasan.
Good question from 2017 https://t.co/VCiEtLHSjh
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) February 26, 2021
“Great question,” replied far-left Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Great question. https://t.co/79K8uyzwGi
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 26, 2021
“What authority does @POTUS have to strike Syria?” asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). “Perhaps someone should ask his @PressSec today?”
I condemn meddling in Syria’s civil war. I also condemn attacking a sovereign nation without authority.
What authority does @POTUS have to strike Syria?
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) February 26, 2021
“As I forecast, @JoeBiden is looking to involve us fully in the Syrian civil war – a war @BarackObama helped fuel by his arming the rebel elements of Al Qaeda & the Muslim Brotherhood,” wrote retired U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel Tony Shaffer.
“And see here how big an idiot @PressSec is when she spoke out against a similar action in 2017,” he added.
As I forecast, @JoeBiden is looking to involve us fully in the Syrian civil war – a war @BarackObama helped fuel by his arming the rebel elements of Al Qaeda & the Muslim Brotherhood… and see here how big an idiot @PressSec is when she spoke out against a similar action in 2017 https://t.co/prPG5cvPjf
— Tony Shaffer (@T_S_P_O_O_K_Y) February 26, 2021
“So will your position on Syria change by the next press briefing?” asked co-chair of Veterans for Trump Jessie Jane Duff.
So will your position on Syria change by the next press briefing? https://t.co/wBxQlJ4ntM
— Jessie Jane Duff (@JessieJaneDuff) February 26, 2021
“Hey you dropped this back in 2017…. thought you might want it back,” wrote Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Shane Hazel. “Absolutely agree with it then & now.”
“Maybe show some principle and resign due to be a conscientious objector,” he added.
@jrpsaki hey you dropped this back in 2017…. thought you might want it back. Absolutely agree with it then & now.
— Shane Hazel (@ShaneTHazel) February 26, 2021
“@jrpsaki are you going to tweet this statement now…?” asked former West Virginia delegate Michael Folk. “Or are you just going to ‘circle back’?”
— Michael Folk for WV (@MichaelFolk34) February 26, 2021
“Can you circle back on this, @jrpsaki?” asked conservative host Sara Gonzales.
— Sara Gonzales (@SaraGonzalesTX) February 26, 2021
“But when it’s you it’s cool to drop the bombs huh?” wrote actor Mikey Reid.
But when it’s you it’s cool to drop the bombs huh?
— big mikey milkers (@mrmikeyreid) February 26, 2021
“I look forward to you condemning @JoeBiden’s illegal strikes in your press conference tomorrow,” wrote one Twitter user.
“This is a fantastic question that I hope you get asked repeatedly from now until your next job,” wrote another.
“Can’t wait to see how you cover this one up,” wrote yet another.
“I hope your paycheck is good enough to buy you a soul,” quipped another user.
“This won’t age well,” wrote another.
The tweets come on the heels of recent accusations of Biden administration hypocrisy due to the reopening of border facilities for housing migrant teenagers — including one both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris blasted then-President Trump for.
On Tuesday, Psaki insisted it was merely a temporary measure necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There needs to be spacing,” Psaki said. “To ensure the health and safety of these kids, HHS took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity where these kids can be provided the care they need before they are safely placed with families and sponsors.”
“So it’s a temporary reopening during COVID-19, our intention is very much to close it, but we want to make sure we can follow COVID protocols,” she added.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.