Sen. Angus King of Maine said President Trump’s missile strike on Syria was “within our national interest and justified.”
“Going in to take out chemical weapons capacity, which was what this strike was all about, is arguably within our national interest and justified,” Mr. King said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “What this strike was not, and I think it’s fortunate that that’s the case, was a strike against the Assad regime itself and an attempt to intervene in the civil war.”
Mr. King, who sits on the Committee on Armed Services and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is an Independent who caucuses with Democrats.
He said evidence of the chemical weapons attack was not presented to Congress prior to Friday night’s strike.
“They did notify the leadership of the Congress on Friday before the strike, but I’m unaware that they presented definitive evidence of what the use of the chemical weapons was,” he said. “We got updated briefings over the weekend from the Defense Department about the strike, and they indicated that they had confidence that chemical weapons had been used, but they didn’t supply the evidence.”
U.S. intelligence officials say they’re confident that both chlorine and sarin were used in an attack on Douma earlier this month.
The coordinated missile strike was carried out by the U.S., the U.K. and France.
Mr. King noted that the use of chemical weapons is a “red line for most of the world.”
President Trump celebrated the success of the strike on Saturday by tweeting “Mission Accomplished!”
Mr. King said it’s too early to tell if the strike accomplished its mission.
“I think it’s very difficult to say ‘mission accomplished’ if the mission is to deter the use of chemical weapons,” he said. “We hope that will be the case, but we did a strike a year ago for that same purpose, and it was deemed a success, but the chemical weapons have continued to be used. So I think it’s impossible to say at this point that the mission has been accomplished.”
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