BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Pete Buttigieg committed Tuesday to putting the United States back in the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement if elected president and pledged to support a repeal of the war powers resolution passed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the first major foreign policy and national security speech by a 2020 Democratic candidate.
Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran, chided President Donald Trump for conducting foreign policy “impulsively, erratically, emotionally,” including what he described as exchanging “love letters” between the president and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Calling for the winding down of U.S. wars, Buttigieg said he feared the nation would soon have its first combat death of “the 9/11 war who was born after 9/11.”
“As someone who deployed to that war on the orders of a president — who believed, way back in 2014, that our involvement in Afghanistan was coming to an end — the time has come for Congress to repeal and replace that blank check on the use of force and ensure a robust debate on any future operations,” Buttigieg said.
The war powers resolution passed soon after Sept. 11, 2001, known as an Authorization for Use of Military Force, has been a hot-button issue in Washington for years. Lawmakers of both parties have conceded its insufficiency to address the current array of national security threats but have been unable to muster the political support needed to replace it.
Under U.S. law, Congress is supposed to authorize any long-term use of America’s military overseas. The 2001 law authorized U.S. military action against Al Qaeda “and affiliated groups.” That last phrase has become a catch-all used to justify U.S. military action against the Islamic State group, extremist groups across Africa and other threats never foreseen when lawmakers crafted the 2001 legislation.
Still, Buttigieg did not elaborate on what he would hope to see in a new war powers resolution, nor how he might overcome the political obstacles that have prevented the adoption of a new one for years.
Taking subtle aim at former Vice President Joe Biden, Buttigieg argued that the U.S. needed to look forward in its national security strategy, rather than returning to calmer times that predated Trump. Biden has claimed in recent days that if and when Trump is defeated, Republicans will return to the way they acted in years prior to Trump’s election, “because they know better.”
“Democrats can no more turn the clock back to the 1990s than Republicans can turn us back to the 1950s,” Buttigieg said. “And we should not try.”
Biden, campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday, was pushing back on that argument, though he didn’t mention Buttigieg by name. In remarks prepared for delivery in Davenport later in the day, Biden plans to say that while “some people think that’s a return to the past, I don’t see it that way.”
“I see it as embracing the enduring values that have made America, America,” Biden will say. “I don’t think that’s taking us into the past. For me, it’s the only way America is going to have a future.”
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has been leaning in on his background as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve to illustrate his readiness to serve as commander in chief despite being only 37 years old. Neither Biden nor Trump served in the military; both received deferments during the Vietnam War.
In his speech, delivered at Indiana University, Bloomington, Buttigieg criticized those who would politicize the U.S. relationship with Israel but also said it was not being disloyal to Israel to criticize its “right-wing government.” He said “it will be our policy” to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, amid questions about whether the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan will envision Palestinian statehood.
And in remarks aimed directly at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed to annex Israeli settlements in the Palestinian-claimed West Bank, Buttigieg issued an ultimatum:
“He should know that a President Buttigieg would take steps to make sure that American taxpayers won’t help foot the bill,” he said.
Describing his proposed response to Russian interference in the 2016 election, he said he intended to address “the real weaknesses the Russians exploited — not just the gaps in our technology but our capacity to be too easily turned against each other.” Buttigieg also cast climate change as a national security issue, rather than simply a domestic one, and affirmed his support for a carbon tax to rein in U.S. emissions of heat-trapping gases.
He blasted Trump for embracing autocrats, “alienating democracies and allies,” undermining U.S. treaties and using tariffs “as tantrums” — a reference to Trump’s recent threat to hit Mexico with tariffs unless it stepped up action to curb the flow of immigrants across the southern border.
“The pattern is that decisions are made impulsively, erratically, emotionally, and politically — often delivered by early morning tweet,” Buttigieg said.
Yet Buttigieg’s critiques of presidential handling of foreign policy were bipartisan, and while he didn’t mention former President Barack Obama by name, he suggested that the last Democrat to hold the office had not been unswerving on the world stage, either.
“Since the election of the current president, the United States has hardly had a foreign policy at all,” Buttigieg said. “And lest that seem like a partisan jab, I should add that for the better part of my lifetime, it has been difficult to identify a consistent foreign policy in the Democratic Party either.”
Turley: If you rush impeachment 'you're going to leave half the country behind'
Conduct like Trump’s is the reason Congress has impeachment power
WASHINGTON — There’s no question that President Donald Trump violated the Constitution’s limits on his power or that the House should respond by impeaching him, three legal scholars told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
That’s exactly what majority Democrats were hoping to hear, and it’s the testimony they will cite as the House moves toward drafting articles of impeachment against Trump based on his solicitation of Ukraine to launch investigations with political implications in the U.S. and possibly other matters.
“How we respond will determine the character of our democracy for generations,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said.
Ultimately, three of the witnesses portrayed Trump as abusing the powers of his office for personal gain — and in contravention of U.S. interests — in ways envisioned by the founding fathers when they gave Congress the authority to remove the chief executive. The reason to impeach Trump isn’t to punish him, law professors Pamela Karlan of Stanford, Noah Feldman of Harvard and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina said, but to prevent further damage.
Karlan and Gerhardt leaned hard into the idea that Trump sought to deprive Americans of their basic democratic rights by pursuing the establishment of political investigations in Ukraine that would benefit his re-election campaign. At the same time, Feldman emphasized Trump’s decision to freeze aid to Ukraine, a U.S. partner at war with Russia, as a dangerous and impeachable subversion of national interests.
“If you don’t impeach a president who has done what this president has done … then what you’re saying is that it’s fine to go ahead and do this again,” Karlan said. “It’s your responsibility to make sure that all Americans get to vote in a free and fair election next November.”
They all said Trump’s actions met the threshold for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and for “bribery” under the Constitution’s impeachment clause.
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A fourth witness, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, argued that Democrats’ impeachment push was being rushed at the expense of fact-gathering and that the House Intelligence Committee’s end of the investigation had not produced clear and convincing evidence of impeachable offenses by Trump.
“Fast is not good for impeachment,” he said.
Democrats weren’t expecting Turley to be helpful to their cause, and they largely avoided asking him questions during the marathon hearing, which began at 10 a.m. ET and dragged across more than eight hours with occasional breaks for lawmakers to participate in votes on the House floor.
Instead, they relied on the other three legal experts to weigh in on the Constitution, the evidence produced in the Intelligence Committee’s part of the inquiry and how they fit together to explain the case for impeaching Trump.
Gerhardt said “the record compiled thus far shows that the president has committed several impeachable offenses, including bribery, abuse of power in soliciting a personal favor from a foreign leader to benefit his political campaign, obstructing Congress and obstructing justice.”
He pointed to the period when the Constitution was being drafted and its framers’ determination to ensure that the new nation’s citizenry would not be subjects of a monarch after having won the Revolutionary War against King George III.
“In this country, no one is king,” he said, adding that Trump has “attacked each of the Constitution’s safeguards against establishing a monarchy in this country.”
Despite a handful of fiery exchanges among lawmakers and between members of Congress and witnesses, the hearing was relatively sedate for a committee that is typically among the most aggressively partisan in Congress. But Karlan’s invocation of Trump’s youngest son, in making a point about the limits on presidential power, invited strong criticism from first lady Melania Trump, the Trump campaign and GOP members of the committee.
“Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 does not give him the power to do anything he wants,” Karlan said. “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility. So while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”
Melania Trump responded on Twitter, saying Karlan “should be ashamed” of her “obviously biased public pandering” in referring to Barron Trump.
“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics,” the first lady wrote.
Karlan took a moment during the hearing to offer an apology.
“It was wrong of me to do that,” she said, adding that the president “should apologize” for the things he’s done wrong.
Republicans repeatedly noted that top Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., had said in the past that one test for impeachment would be whether there was bipartisan support for it.
“You said that once the evidence is laid out that the opposition will admit ‘they had to do it,'” Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said, addressing Nadler. “That has not happened.”
Lesko is right that most Republicans in the country remain unified behind Trump, and not a single member of the GOP in Congress has yet broken ranks with him. House Republicans voted unanimously against a resolution setting the rules for the impeachment inquiry, and all of the GOP members of the Intelligence panel voted against its report, which was approved Tuesday.
While a handful of Republican senators have distanced themselves from some of the Trump conduct under investigation by the House, none of them have gone so far as to suggest they would vote to remove him from office.
While Wednesday brought the House Democrats one day closer to impeaching Trump on the calendar — and the witnesses provided them legal opinions that they will use as exhibits for their case — there was no reason to think the hearing had changed any minds on Capitol Hill.
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