A key Republican senator on Wednesday said that respect for President Trump has surged since he ordered the killing of Iran’s top military leader, and he gave credit to the White House and Pentagon for reinvigorating U.S. deterrence power.
“Trump’s stock value is at an all-time high,” Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun told Secrets after attending a high-level administration briefing for all senators.
“I felt good after listening to the total presentation; it made sense,” he said, adding that the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani “did restore the deterrence factor that obviously had been lost in the Obama administration.”
Braun said that the briefing, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, left some unanswered questions, but he was not harshly critical, like Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, who dubbed it “ the worst briefing I've seen.”
In fact, Braun said the briefing answered questions about the killing of Soleimani, who was compared to Osama bin Laden in his terrorist threat to the United States.
He also said the national security chiefs made a strong case over Democratic criticism that the threat posed by Soleimani was imminent.
“It was clearly stated that there was one and that it would have been significant,” said Braun, who noted that leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was in the audience.
Little was said of Iran's missile attack on two U.S. bases in Iraq in retaliation. There were no casualties. However, he said, the briefers rebuffed reports that Iran purposefully picked a "bad target," and he gave credit to military leaders for moving troops out of the line of fire.
He said that the briefers said that Iran’s leaders mistook Trump’s nonmilitary response to several attacks over the past months for weakness. They said Iran also misunderstood his pledge to withdraw troops as a sign the U.S. was disengaging from the region.
“They were testing Trump,” said Braun. “They were confusing that with not realizing that when you cross a line with him, as it should be with anyone, that enough is enough,” said the senator.
What “broke the camel’s back” with Trump, he said, was the attack by Iran in Iraq last month that killed a U.S. contractor.
Despite his support for the president and his actions in the region against Iran, Braun said that it is time to reduce spending in the Middle East and for Congress to take a larger role, especially if Iran continues to threaten the region.
“We still need to lessen our load throughout the entire world,” said Braun, who has been a leader in working to cut the federal deficit.