Warren Says People Wonder if Iran Strike Meant As a Distraction

Danielle Moran

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren questioned the timing of the U.S. drone strike on a top Iranian military leader, saying people question if it was a bid to distract from President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

In a rare appearance on a Sunday talk show, Warren said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that it was fair to wonder if Trump’s order to kill Iran’s Qassem Soleimani was an attempt to turn attention away from the ongoing impeachment debate in Washington.

“People are reasonably asking, why this moment? Why does he pick now to take this highly inflammatory, highly dangerous action that moves us closer to war?” the Massachusetts senator said.

“There was a reason that he chose this moment, not -- not a month ago, not a month from now, not a less aggressive, less dangerous response,” she said, adding that the administration had presented shifting rationales for Soleimani’s killing.

Trump ordered the strike shortly after the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was attacked by protesters led by Soleimani-backed militias.

Administration officials have described the threat to U.S. interests posed by Soleimani as “imminent,” although Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Sunday on CNN that it wasn’t relevant if that meant days or weeks.

Separately, 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg discussed what he would do as commander in chief, and the impact unending wars have had on his generation. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the only major candidate seeking the nomination with military service.

If elected, Buttigieg said he would “never hesitate to use force if it was necessary in order to protect American lives” but questioned the need for an escalation in Iran now.

“Was it necessary, and was it better than the alternative?” he said.

Trump in the past -- including in October -- has vowed to stop “endless wars” and bring U.S. troops home from global hot-spots. Yet the U.S. is building up its presence in the Middle East with thousands more troops on the way in an emergency deployment.

“We are in a season of endless war. And I have been shaped by that experience,” said Buttigieg, 37. “My judgment is also informed by belonging to that generation that has lived through conflicts that we were told would be over in days or weeks, and are continuing to this day.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Moran in New York at dmoran21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elizabeth Campbell at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Steve Geimann

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