Democratic members of Congress who served in the military criticized President Donald Trump’s tweets on Syria and Republicans’ unwillingness to rein in the use of military force in a press conference Friday.
Rep. Mike Thompson of California said the president’s tweeting was a disservice to veterans and the humanitarian crisis that has emerged in Syria.
“Veterans had to grapple with what war means and we know that launching missiles is serious business,” Thompson said. “Not something you joke about and not something you joke or tweet about at a dinner.”
After reports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, Trump called the Syrian strongman an “animal” on Twitter.
Rep. Salud Carbajal of California, who served in the Marines, said the images from Syria were “devastating” and the situation required deliberation and tact.
“Not one that can be solved in a 280 character tweet,” he said.
Carbajal also criticized Trump’s response to Russia saying missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’”
“The president’s tweet declaring that missiles are on their way to Syria were sent without regard to military readiness,” he said.
Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona also criticized the Republican majorities in Congress for not taking initiative to rein in the President’s ability to use military force by requesting a new Authorization for Use of Military Force.
A new AUMF is not necessary, Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Wednesday.
“What I would hate to do … is have an AUMF that ties the hands of our military behind their backs,” Ryan said.
Gallego said he had proposed a new AUMF with Republican Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado and there was other legislation circulating in Congress but there is only so much he can do, he said.
“This is a Republican Congress and Senate,” he said. “They have to figure out how to constrain him. All we can do is talk to our generals and talk to the public.”
Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a retired Marine and combat veteran in Iraq who served as an aide to former Gen. David Petraeus, also criticized the lack of mission clarity when it comes to Syria and said it hurt American service members.
“When you ask them why are you here, where is this going, what do you have to do to enable us to bring you home, a lot of them can’t answer that question,” Moulton said.
Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report. Correction 3:22 p.m. | This story has been updated to more accurately reflect Moulton’s military service.