Republican Rep. Doug Collins apologizes for saying Democrats 'are in love with terrorists'
- Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia apologized Friday for saying earlier this week that Democrats "are in love with terrorists."
- "Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists, and I apologize for what I said earlier this week," Collins wrote on Twitter. "I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and with my fellow citizens to keep all Americans safe."
- Collins invited swift backlash from the public and Democratic lawmakers, particularly Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who told CNN, "I left parts of my body behind fighting terrorists in Iraq."
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Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia apologized on Friday for saying earlier this week that Democrats "are in love with terrorists."
"Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists, and I apologize for what I said earlier this week," Collins wrote on Twitter. "The comment I made on Wednesday evening was in response to a question about the War Powers Resolution being introduced in the House and House Democrats' attempt to limit the president's authority."
Collins was referring to the War Powers Resolution that the Democratic-controlled House passed Thursday evening, which would dramatically curtail President Donald Trump's ability to take further military action against Iran. The vote came after the Trump administration announced last week that the president had ordered an airstrike against Iran's Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani without consulting or notifying Congress.
Soleimani's assassination kicked off a series of escalatory actions from both Washington and Tehran that simmered down earlier this week after Iran fired several missiles at US bases in Iraq that resulted in no American casualties. Trump subsequently announced that "all is well" and that the conflict had been de-escalated.
"As someone who served in Iraq in 2008, I witnessed firsthand the brutal death of countless soldiers who were torn to shreds by this vicious terrorist," Collins said in his apology. "Soleimani was nothing less than an evil mastermind who viciously killed and wounded thousands of Americans."
"These images will live with me for the rest of my life, but that does not excuse my response on Wednesday evening," he added. "I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and with my fellow citizens to keep all Americans safe."
Collins' claim that Democrats are "in love with terrorists" ignited a firestorm in the public and among his congressional colleagues.
"Nancy Pelosi does it again and her Democrats fall right in line," he said. "One, they are in love with terrorists - we see that. They mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families who are the ones who suffered under Soleimani. That's a problem."
On Thursday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois pulled no punches when she responded to the Georgia congressman's remarks on CNN, saying, "I left parts of my body behind fighting terrorists in Iraq."
Duckworth was a combat veteran in the Iraq War, where she was a helicopter pilot. While serving overseas, the Illinois senator suffered serious injuries that caused her to lose both legs and some movement in her right arm. According to HuffPost, she was the first female amputee from the war.
Collins wasn't the first Republican to suggest that Democrats are upset by Soleimani's death.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also served as Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, said during an appearance on Fox News' Sean Hannity's show Monday night that "the only ones mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership and Democrat Presidential candidates."
There is no evidence to back up either Haley's or Collins' comments.
Democratic leaders have been unequivocal in condemning Soleimani as a terrorist with American blood on his hands. They have, however, expressed concern about Trump's decision to unilaterally order the strike against him without consulting Congress or seeking prior approval from the legislative branch.
They've also expressed doubts about how robust the underlying intelligence supporting the strike - which the administration has said was necessary because there was an "imminent threat" to Americans - actually was.
The New York Times' Rukmini Callimachi reported last week that sources told her the underlying evidence was "razor thin."
This week, the administration came under deeper scrutiny following a Senate briefing on the strike that several lawmakers - Republican and Democratic - sharply criticized for providing little, if any, evidence to support Trump's decision.
On Thursday, the president said without elaborating that Soleimani was planning to "blow up" the US embassy in Baghdad before he was assassinated.
Asked for evidence to back up this claim, Trump said, "No, I think it was obvious. If you look at the protests, and this was the anti-Benghazi. Benghazi was a disaster."