'What Is The President's Strategy?': Moulton Says Trump Must Seek Congressional Approval For Action In Syria

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Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., at the U.S. Capitol in Washington in 2015. (Molly Riley/AP file)
Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. (Molly Riley/AP file)

Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton joined Morning Edition to discuss the U.S. airstrikes in Syria on Thursday night.

Interview Highlights

On whether he supports Trump's decision to order airstrikes on Syria

Moulton: "I think the president has sent an important message that we're not going to stand by while brutal dictators use chemical weapons, against anybody. But there are a lot of questions left unanswered, and we need to understand what the long-term goal is here. What is the president's strategy? Where is this all headed? Those are questions he has to answer for Congress and the American people — and most of all, for our troops that we're asking to risk their lives on the ground."

Does Trump first need Congressional approval for further action in Syria?

"Yes, if he is going to take further action he needs Congressional approval. It's very clear in the Constitution that that is the beauty and authority of Congress."

(Here are additional reactions and perspectives from members of Congress.)

On former President Obama's 'red line' in 2013; Trump's inconsistencies

"If you remember, what happened is, President Obama drew the 'red line." He then did not act — which I disagreed with, but he did go to Congress. And a Republican Congress voted against taking action. It's a complicated history and a complicated conflict.

"But of course, President Trump has been all over the map on this as well. He earlier, just this week, essentially said that Assad would remain in power; now he's saying Assad should go. Back in 2013, he came out against President Obama's interest in striking Syria and said that the president should not get involved. So, we need to have a clear strategy and a clear plan because I don't think it is apparent to anybody where President Trump is going with this."

On lingering questions Rep. Moulton says need answers

"Are we at war in Syria or is this just an isolated attack against their use of weapons of mass destruction? What is our goal; what are we going to do to end the civil war? Are we going to protect civilians? I mean, it's rather ironic that President Trump has shut off America to Syrian refugees — the very victims of these kinds of attacks — at the same time as he's shooting Tomahawk missiles at their country. What is our plan to defeat ISIS? And how has Trump's position on regime change with Assad changed since his statements on Monday?"

This article was originally published on April 07, 2017.

This segment aired on April 7, 2017.


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Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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