Via Fox News
LEVIN: It’s a pleasure. Well, you have an impressive background. You went to Harvard. You went to Harvard Law School. But even more impressive than that, you served in the 101st Airborne in Iraq. And later, you served in Afghanistan with the Provincial Reconstruction Team.
In between tours, you served with the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery which we’re going to talk about in a moment. So you go to Harvard Law School, and then you decide to go into the military.
COTTON: Yes, some people might say, Mark that I redeemed myself by joining the Army after going to Harvard. But this — the story is that I started my final year of law school in September of 2001. And probably, in the second week of school, I was in evidence class one morning and I mean, this is back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we didn’t have smartphones or even WiFi in the classroom.
So it was about an hour later that everyone in that class learn what had happened that morning on September 11, 2001. And we all gather together and watched the rest of the day, we watched as the towers fell down, and as Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, had a prayer vigil that evening.
And from that point forward, really, I knew that I wanted to serve in our country’s military. I thought about rushing out to join right away. Some friends who were in the military discouraged me from doing that. They’re probably right since I was already in for three years of paying for law school, it’s probably best to finish law school and price for a couple of years to pay off my loans.
But when that finished, I joined the Army. I signed up in late 2004 and shipped off to basic training in January of 2005.
LEVIN: You also received the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Ranger Tab, and I mention all of this because not only is it enormously impressive, but you actually have some knowledge, some experience about what you’re talking about, not just from the Senate floor and not just from a television broadcast studio like this.
You’ve been in Iraq. You’ve been in Afghanistan. You’ve been on the ground. You’ve been a Congressman. You’re a senator. You serve on the Intelligence Committee in the Armed Services Committee. So now you see the broader perspective of things.
You are the Only United States Senator, 98 to one vote, you voted against the Iran Deal, even though it allowed for Congress to review the deal. You said, wait a minute. This is supposed to be a treaty under our Constitution — 98 to one. Where we’re all the constitutionalists?
……By the time I got done with all my training in 2005, I got to Iraq in 2006 with the 101st Airborne. That was right before the surge, which meant it was in the times when things were deteriorating that necessitated the surge the following year.
We saw sectarian warfare almost every single day in Baghdad, fueled in no small part by Iranian meddling, and the most deadly weapon we faced was a particularly sophisticated kind of roadside bomb that was manufactured in Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Quds Force led by Qasem Soleimani, who has the blood of hundreds of American soldiers on his hands because of that meddling in the Iraq War.
So my history with Iran goes very far back, farther than that vote you just cited or what’s happened over the last couple of weeks.
LEVIN: Soleimani. I guess I’m an old Reaganite. I’m an old school guy. You take out a genocidal maniac like this, a real monster, and you don’t need a whole lot of explanation. What’s the strategy? What was imminent? What was this? What was that? The guy has been doing this for decades.
He’s got massive amounts of blood on his hands. Muslim blood, American blood Syrian blood, Lebanese blood, Yemeni blood. Israeli blood — you can go on and on and on. Everybody knows who he is. Everybody knows what he is.
The President, who is actually quite careful about using military force takes him out. The Democratic Party, almost all men and women, criticize him. We have this phony non-binding resolution in the House to try and limit his power. We have what I called — you don’t have to, I do — some Code Pink Republicans out there waving the Constitution around bizarrely. What do you make of all this?
COTTON: Well, you’re right that Qasem Soleimani was a sadistic terrorist mastermind, and there is no country in the Middle East whose citizens have not suffered from his depredations.
You mentioned Syria. He is largely responsible for Bashar Al-Assad still being in power and killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
Just at the end of last year, more than a thousand Iranians were killed by their own Security Forces that they protested against their government. Qasem Soleimani was responsible for those as well, and there’s no doubt, I’ve seen the Intelligence that he was plotting something large and something very dangerous, whether it happened in a matter of weeks, or a matter of days.
And the question of whether an attack is imminent or not, Mark, I’ve got to say, it looks very different if you’re a soldier sitting in Iraq, than if you’re some comfortable senator sitting behind armed guards in Washington, D.C.
So I very disappointed at all my Democratic colleagues in the Senate, I’ve got to say over the last few weeks, because if you’ve got a chance to take a mastermind like Qasem Soleimani off the battlefield, you take it, and I commend the President for doing so. We should have done it a long time ago.
LEVIN: You’ll hear people say, what are we doing there? What are we doing in the Middle East? It’s a quagmire. Let’s just take everybody and get the hell out of there. How do you answer that?
COTTON: Well, so first, with Iran, they’ve been waging war against us for 40 years, and we cannot allow Iran to wage a proxy war against us without fighting back.
In Iraq, now, we have a small presence there. It might have been smaller if we hadn’t, precipitously withdrawn in 2011. I saw Iraq at some of its worst times in 2006. The surge worked.
President Bush handed over an Iraq that was largely stable in 2008 to President Obama. President Obama unwisely maintained the stance that he had taken during the campaign that he was going to withdraw all of the troops regardless of the conditions on the ground.
We might have many fewer troops on the ground in Iraq right now, if we had just maintained that stable presence in 2011. That’s what I would prefer to see, a smaller presence there, but also a stable country in which you don’t say, a vicious terrorist organization like the Islamic State rise from the ashes and start threatening Americans again, because ultimately, if we withdraw entirely from the Middle East, the Middle East is very likely going to follow us back to the United States as it did on 9/11.
That doesn’t mean that we have to have a hundred thousand troops. That doesn’t mean that we have to try to remake these countries into, you know, Western European democracies. But it does mean that at times, we have to have troop presence in the Middle East, so we can project power and we can ensure that threats don’t gather there and materialize here.
LEVIN: And wars aren’t fought with muskets anymore, are they?
COTTON: No, they’re not.
LEVIN: Intercontinental ballistic missiles. Nuclear warheads. So when people say, well, that’s 7,000 miles, that’s 10,000 miles away. Isn’t that why the enemy builds ICBMs?
COTTON: Well, that’s why Iran is building ICBMs. And you know, you don’t put conventional warheads on ICBMs either. There’s only one reason why you build a missile that can fly from Iran to Europe and ultimately to the United States, and that’s so you can have a nuclear warhead on that.
But at the other end of the scale, we saw 9/11, what someone with just a few hundred thousand dollars and resolve and some committed fanatics could do as well.
That is why it’s so essential that we don’t allow power vacuums to rise in places that have large numbers of highly skilled, highly motivated terrorists fighters, as in Iraq, as in Syria when the Islamic State dominated there, because those people although they may be playing a near game against their sectarian rivals or their own governments, ultimately, they focus on what Iran calls the Great Satan, the United States.
……COTTON: ……You know, when President Trump directed the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, we also killed a man named Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was Qasem Soleimani’s main deputy in Iraq.
In fact, it was his militia, Kata’ib Hezbollah that killed the American linguist on December 27th and wounded several other American troopers.
That man has a long and bloody history as well. He was responsible for bombing the United States Embassy in Kuwait in 1983. So this threat is not limited to Iraq or to where we have troops in the Middle East.
……The Obama Doctrine was a bad overcorrection to what had happened in the Bush years. As you say, we badly harmed our military and hollowed it out in many ways and turned the other cheek consistently.
Even when Obama promised a red line, he wouldn’t even enforce it, as happened in Syria after Bashar Al-Assad gassed his own people.
Donald Trump came into office and said we’re not going to try to turn countries that have never had any kind of tradition in constitutional democracy into a Western European parliamentary government, but at the same time, we’re going to enforce red lines.
In fact, he enforced Barack Obama’s own red line twice in Syria and his red line in Iran has been very clear for the last several months, if you harm an American, you’ll suffer severe consequences. And when Qasem Soleimani’s proxies killed an American linguist and harmed several troopers, he did just that.
That’s still our red line going forward in the future. In some ways, it’s kind of like what Reagan did with Iran. You know, you remember in 1988, when a U.S. Navy vessel was struck by an Iranian mine and Ronald Reagan sunk about half of the Iranian Navy in return.
……even if you look at the threats that the Soviet Union posed to the United States during the Cold War, I think China poses a similar threat to the United States going forward in the 21st Century. Donald Trump also appreciates that threat.
……LEVIN: Let’s talk about China. I consider China the greatest threat we face. Iran is a tremendous threat, too, but China is a massive country. And they’ve stolen our technology to the point where they’re probably has or are more sophisticated now than the Russians when it comes to military hardware.
They’re ahead of us in Space Technology, thanks to the Obama administration. Cyberwarfare, they’re on the cutting edge. They are developing an offensive-oriented military, not a regional military, a global military.
Both sides of the Panama Canal, Chinese contractors — Reagan would never allow that. I don’t believe for a minute.
Trump inherits this stuff. He didn’t create this. I mean, the Chinese were building these phony islands in the South China Sea when he became President of the United States. North Korea had nukes when he became President of the United States. The Iran Deal is something he had to fix, he had to address when he became President. He gets almost no credit.
The constant attacks in the media by these former Obama appointees and others going on and on about how he is rash. Where has he been rash, exactly?
I mean, I think he’s been very cogent, very systematic. And I think there’s a real Doctrine behind this. Now, let’s talk about China. What do we do about China?
COTTON: Well, so first off, I think there’s no question that China is the greatest threat we face in the years ahead. Iran and North Korea are threats. They have a tendency because they’re rogue nations to generate these crises, but they do not have the ability to displace the United States as the world’s superpower.
Russia is a declining power. They still have a large nuclear arsenal. They have great Intelligence capabilities. They’re increasing their military capabilities. But Russia is a troubled and declining power.
China is still a rising power. A lot of people in Washington in both parties made a lot of mistakes about China over the last 20 years, thinking that if we just sent more of our jobs there, if we outsource more of our factories there, if we brought more cheap stuff back here, all of a sudden China would become a peaceful, Western-style democracy.
The exact opposite has happened. China has become more repressive over the last 20 years as they’ve moved from the era of Deng Xiaoping to now, to the era of Xi Jinping who is the most powerful Chinese ruler since Mao Zedong.
And as you say, they are acting out in ways that are trying to project that power all around the world through their Belt and Road Initiative, trying to buy off countries around the world, militarizing the South China Sea by building islands out of the sea, by trying to compete with us in space and in cyber technology, trying to displace us as the world’s largest economy.
The President has China a hundred percent right. On every front, we need to draw boundaries on China, and we need to compete with them and ultimately defeat them — economic, diplomatic, political, military, you name it.
……LEVIN: Senator Cotton, impeachment. We have two Articles of Impeachment. I think we do, anyway, obstruction of Congress. Is the Senate part of Congress by the way? I think so. And then we have — what’s the other one? Something about abuse of power.
Now, you went to Harvard Law School. You’re a smart fella. I studied this my entire life, the impeachment clause, treason, bribery, other high crimes and misdemeanors. Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power would fall into the category that was rejected at the Constitutional Convention. Too ambiguous, too nebulous.
You can drive a truck through this stuff. Turning the President into a functionary of the House of Representatives. The way they conducted themselves, no traditional due process. I’m not talking about, you know, the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution: Criminal Issues, and the Fifth Amendment. I’m talking about the rules that have been applied to past Presidents and judges that have been impeached.
She throws them out the window. They conduct a hearing in the Intelligence Committee, which I understand had held a single hearing on Iran, by the way. Now, she holds it up, and she says, I want to see what the Senate is going to do. Who elected Nancy Pelosi, Queen of America? Did you?
COTTON: I did not, Mark. I can assure you that.
LEVIN: She is only a Congresswoman. So now what does the Senate do?
COTTON: So, Mark, you’re right about these two Articles of Impeachment. They’re very similar to what was rejected at the Constitutional Convention. I think the exact term was maladministration that was under debate, and they rejected it, because it was too vague, too generic. It would be used as a political tool, just because someone disliked the President’s policies.
And frankly, that’s a lot of what the Democrats in the House and even some of these witnesses have alleged. They’ve alleged that they wanted to support Ukraine. That we should have sent that money to Ukraine without any delays at all, even though it was sent after just a few weeks, and that this was a bad or unwise decision. That’s fine. They’re entitled to that opinion, but they’re not empowered to make those decisions under our Constitution. Only the President is.
I remember when Nancy Pelosi first took the country down this path back in September, speaking to the President about it. And I said that I know it’s frustrating. I know that you want to do the people’s business, you just have to remember though that they started impeaching you, the day you got elected. They filed the first Articles just a few weeks after you were sworn in.
And this is depending on how you count things, the third or the fourth effort to impeach the President. At root, no matter the allegations, it goes back to one single sin, defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016.
And as Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff have said, if the Senate doesn’t convict Donald Trump on this impeachment round, they’re apt to try to impeach him again in the future because they simply refuse to accept the fact that he won in 2016, even though we’ve got an election in barely nine months.
So what will the Senate do? That’s up in part to what the President’s lawyers want to do. So for instance, how they want to present their case if they want to call witnesses and so forth.
I can tell you what the Senate is not going to do. We’re not going to let Nancy Pelosi dictate to us. I suspect in the coming days, when she sends the Articles and the House Managers to the Senate that will pass the resolution that is similar, if not identical to the resolution that passed a hundred to nothing in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial.
Setting up a timeline for opening arguments and briefs, setting a time for senators to ask questions and then have debates and then the Senate can decide what to do at that point in the Senate trial.
When Obama was installed, he flushed everything we accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under Obama’s watch, weapons that were meant for the Iraqi army fell into the hands of Shiite militias. In 2008, Iranian Hezbollah brigades were captured in Iraq and the regime in Tehran has been paying insurgents to kill Americans and Brits.
Barky also tipped off the Iranians when Israel planned on taking out Soleimani in 2015.
Obama’s other foreign policy disasters:
Iraq implodes, Obama goes golfing.
He dismissed Al Qaeda in Iraq as “JV”, they went Varsity, thanks to him.
The Chinese have engaged in cyber attacks, spying, economic espionage, and actual threatening of U.S. Naval vessels. Yet former officials , the Feds, politicians, and American corporations think giving them money, technology, and contributing to the Chinese threat are good ideas.
China builds artificial islands and militarizes them.
China announces that its nuclear submarines can hit the U.S. with missiles.
A senior Chinese officer declared that China should ‘topple U.S. dominance’. Whether China can actually pull this off is a matter of great debate, but the fact that they have their claws sunk so deeply into us economically, should be a wake up call.
Sen. Cotton is 100% correct. President Trump is cleaning up the mess left behind by Obama’s regime and he’s good at it.
President Trump is reversing the damage Barky Obama did to this country and has accomplished more positive improvements to the economy, foreign policy, and national security in his first term in office than all the previous White House occupants since Ronald Reagan.
And the Dems hate him for it.