Fox News host Tucker Carlson has questioned Donald Trump’s decision to kill a top Iranian leader, marking a significant break from many Republican war hawks in Washington who have celebrated the president’s actions.
Carlson — a popular conservative political host who the president himself praised by name during a rally in Florida on Friday night — said that he does not mourn the death of Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, but questioned the justification provided by the Trump administration.
“Yes, Soleimani was linked to the deaths of Americans. Nobody mourns his passing. But Mexico and China are also linked to the deaths of Americans. Each has flooded our country with narcotics from which tens of thousands of Americans die every single year,” Carlson said during his show on Friday.
He continued: “Not that anyone in power cares. So does that mean we get to bomb Oaxaca? Can we start assassinating generals in the [Chinese] People’s Liberation Army?”
The comments came as many Republicans were praising Mr Trump’s targeted attack in Baghdad that left Soleimani dead. Among those celebrating the death was senator Ben Sasse, who attempted to distil the issue in a statement.
“This is very simple: General Soleimani is dead because he was an evil bastard who murdered Americans,” Mr Sasse’s statement read, in apparent response to questions about why Mr Trump would have decided to attack Soleimani when he did, and why. “The President made the brave and right call, and Americans should be proud of our service members who got the job done.”
Carlson took issue with that explanation, too, during his show.
“Nothing about life and certainly nothing about killing is ever very simple,” Carlson responded. “And any politician tells you otherwise is dumb or is lying.”
It is unclear what, if any, response the Iranian government might have to the killing of its leader, but top officials have vowed to avenge their fallen general.
Carlson has been a prominent defender of the president, even as he has avoided falling completely in line behind Mr Trump’s boasts and lies.
In November, for instance, Carlson highlighted the Washington Post’s ongoing list of lies or untruths uttered by the president, which has reached over 15,000 at this point. The Fox News host acknowledged that Mr Trump often exaggerates, and even called him a “BS artist”.
But, soon after, Carlson turned the argument and defended the president by claiming he is disliked by the left because of the times when he actually tells the truth, and challenges the power structures in Washington that profit off the status quo of the government. Mr Trump, notably, has not released his tax returns or removed himself from his businesses, raising concerns about conflicts of interest stemming from his presidency and foreign policy dealings.