Late Thursday, as news unfolded about President Donald Trump’s order to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani—a move many Democrats have warned amounts to a reckless act of war—Republicans and war hawks began celebrating. And nowhere was that praise more effusive than on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show.
“This is a huge victory for American intelligence, a huge victory for our military, a huge victory for the State Department, and a huge victory and total leadership by the president,” Hannity, who was off for the evening, declared on Thursday during a phone-in appearance. Hannity’s guest host for the night, former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), described the drone strike against Soleimani as measured and “proportional.”
Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary under George W. Bush and a leading figure behind the 2003 drumbeat to war in Iraq, also appeared on Hannity, where he predicted that Iranians are likely welcoming Soleimani’s killing, even as Tehran vowed retaliation. “I think it is entirely possible that this is going to be a catalyst inside Iran where the people celebrate this killing of Soleimani,” Fleischer said.
Ari Fleischer: "I think it is entirely possible that this is going to be a catalyst inside Iran where the people celebrate this killing of Soleimani" pic.twitter.com/UfcTOkvqAw
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) January 3, 2020
on fox right now responding to the soleimani news: karl rove and ari fleischer pic.twitter.com/y7bAAJpMSq
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) January 3, 2020
The applause continued Friday morning. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox & Friends that he had been briefed on the operation to kill Soleimani while golfing with the president in Florida earlier this week. The revelation came as Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said they had not been informed of the airstrike in advance.
“The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran,” Pelosi said in a statement. Further, this action was taken without the consultation of Congress.
To the Iranian government: If you want to stay in the oil business leave America and our allies alone and stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 3, 2020
While discussing the potential political and economic ramifications of Soleimani’s killing, Fox Business host Stuart Varney at one point appeared to suggest that impeachment proceedings against Trump should be halted. “Where does it leave impeachment? Varney asked. “Are we now going to try and impeach and remove from office the commander-in-chief who has just taken out one of the world’s leading terrorists?”
Fox host suggests that Soleimani’s assassination means that Trump should not be removed following impeachment pic.twitter.com/EPa3ta4Mbe
— Media Matters (@mmfa) January 3, 2020
But at least one prominent Republican is raising concerns about the strike on Soleimani. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a frequent critic of US military interventionism, warned that the operation could destabilize the region.
The question today is whether the assassination of Soleimani will expand the war to endanger the lives of every American soldier or diplomat in the Middle East?
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 3, 2020
“If we are to go to war [with] Iran the Constitution dictates that we declare war,” Paul added in a tweet. “A war without a Congressional declaration is a recipe for feckless intermittent eruptions of violence [with] no clear mission for our soldiers. Our young men and women in the armed services deserve better.”