Jan 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Rand Paul says Trump keeps appointing advisers who "love Dick Cheney's position"

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that President Trump "keeps getting policy that's not his policy" because he has surrounded himself with hawkish advisers who "disagree" with the president's instincts to withdraw the U.S. from the Middle East.

What he's saying:

"He keeps appointing people to represent him that think the Iraq War was just great. They love [former Vice President] Dick Cheney's position, and they still don't admit there was a mistake. So that's why he keeps getting policy that isn't his policy. But I do think his instincts are pure. He's been saying it ... for a long time that the wars have drained our treasury and that he's not in favor of these wars."
ā€” Rand Paul

Why it matters: Trump ran in 2016 on ending "endless" wars in the Middle East, but his administration has deployed thousands of troops to the region in response to increased tensions with Iran. The president's order to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani makes it unlikely that the U.S. military will end its presence in the Middle East anytime soon.

The big picture: Despite claiming to be opposed to foreign intervention, Trump has appointed hawks like former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to key positions. They have helped shape the "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against Iran that has contributed to heightened tensions over the past year.

Yes, but: Trump is sometimes willing to break with his hawkish advisers, as seen by Bolton's chaotic departure from the White House in September. Bolton's opinions on North Korea and Syria angered Trump, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene reported at the time.

Worth noting: The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both reported that Trump told associates he was under pressure to kill Soleimani from GOP hawks in the Senate whose support he will need in the upcoming impeachment trial. Axios has not independently confirmed this reporting.

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