This is a rush transcript from "Life, Liberty & Levin," January 12, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARK LEVIN, HOST: Hello, America. I'm Mark Levin. This is "Life, Liberty & Levin." And we have a great guest, Senator Tom Cotton. How are you, sir?
SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARK.: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for having me on.
LEVIN: We've never met before.
COTTON: Not in person, no.
LEVIN: It's a pleasure. Well, you have an impressive background. You went to Harvard. You went to Harvard Law School. But even more impressive than that, you served in the 101st Airborne in Iraq. And later, you served in Afghanistan with the Provincial Reconstruction Team.
In between tours, you served with the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery which we're going to talk about in a moment. So you go to Harvard Law School, and then you decide to go into the military.
COTTON: Yes, some people might say, Mark that I redeemed myself by joining the Army after going to Harvard. But this -- the story is that I started my final year of law school in September of 2001. And probably, in the second week of school, I was in evidence class one morning and I mean, this is back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we didn't have smartphones or even WiFi in the classroom.
So it was about an hour later that everyone in that class learn what had happened that morning on September 11, 2001. And we all gather together and watched the rest of the day, we watched as the towers fell down, and as Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, had a prayer vigil that evening.
And from that point forward, really, I knew that I wanted to serve in our country's military. I thought about rushing out to join right away. Some friends who were in the military discouraged me from doing that. They're probably right since I was already in for three years of paying for law school, it's probably best to finish law school and price for a couple of years to pay off my loans.
But when that finished, I joined the Army. I signed up in late 2004 and shipped off to basic training in January of 2005.
LEVIN: You also received the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Ranger Tab, and I mention all of this because not only is it enormously impressive, but you actually have some knowledge, some experience about what you're talking about, not just from the Senate floor and not just from a television broadcast studio like this.
You've been in Iraq. You've been in Afghanistan. You've been on the ground. You've been a Congressman. You're a senator. You serve on the Intelligence Committee in the Armed Services Committee. So now you see the broader perspective of things.
You are the Only United States Senator, 98 to one vote, you voted against the Iran Deal, even though it allowed for Congress to review the deal. You said, wait a minute. This is supposed to be a treaty under our Constitution -- 98 to one. Where we're all the constitutionalists?
You're it. You're too nice. You don't want to comment on it.
COTTON: Well, I would say that I understand what a lot of the people who supported that measure wanted to do. They want some mechanism by which to vote up or down on President Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal.
But as you say, a Nuclear Arms Control Treaty, especially with a mortal enemy, like Iran should be a treaty and it should have widespread support, which is reflected in a two-thirds vote of the United States Senate.
They just voted on a similar Nuclear Arms Treaty with Russia four or five years earlier, so these things are not outdated. They're not anachronistic. They still happen in these days.
The treaty is another way to have a durable and lasting agreement with the United States and another country. And I would also say that, you know, my history with Iran goes back pretty far.
By the time I got done with all my training in 2005, I got to Iraq in 2006 with the 101st Airborne. That was right before the surge, which meant it was in the times when things were deteriorating that necessitated the surge the following year.
We saw sectarian warfare almost every single day in Baghdad, fueled in no small part by Iranian meddling, and the most deadly weapon we faced was a particularly sophisticated kind of roadside bomb that was manufactured in Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Quds Force led by Qasem Soleimani, who has the blood of hundreds of American soldiers on his hands because of that meddling in the Iraq War.
So my history with Iran goes very far back, farther than that vote you just cited or what's happened over the last couple of weeks.
LEVIN: Soleimani. I guess I'm an old Reaganite. I'm an old school guy. You take out a genocidal maniac like this, a real monster, and you don't need a whole lot of explanation. What's the strategy? What was imminent? What was this? What was that? The guy has been doing this for decades.
He's got massive amounts of blood on his hands. Muslim blood, American blood Syrian blood, Lebanese blood, Yemeni blood. Israeli blood -- you can go on and on and on. Everybody knows who he is. Everybody knows what he is.
The President, who is actually quite careful about using military force takes him out. The Democratic Party, almost all men and women, criticize him. We have this phony non-binding resolution in the House to try and limit his power. We have what I called -- you don't have to, I do -- some Code Pink Republicans out there waving the Constitution around bizarrely. What do you make of all this?
COTTON: Well, you're right that Qasem Soleimani was a sadistic terrorist mastermind, and there is no country in the Middle East whose citizens have not suffered from his depredations.
You mentioned Syria. He is largely responsible for Bashar Al-Assad still being in power and killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
Just at the end of last year, more than a thousand Iranians were killed by their own Security Forces that they protested against their government. Qasem Soleimani was responsible for those as well, and there's no doubt, I've seen the Intelligence that he was plotting something large and something very dangerous, whether it happened in a matter of weeks, or a matter of days.
And the question of whether an attack is imminent or not, Mark, I've got to say, it looks very different if you're a soldier sitting in Iraq, than if you're some comfortable senator sitting behind armed guards in Washington, D.C.
So I very disappointed at all my Democratic colleagues in the Senate, I've got to say over the last few weeks, because if you've got a chance to take a mastermind like Qasem Soleimani off the battlefield, you take it, and I commend the President for doing so. We should have done it a long time ago.
LEVIN: You'll hear people say, what are we doing there? What are we doing in the Middle East? It's a quagmire. Let's just take everybody and get the hell out of there. How do you answer that?
COTTON: Well, so first, with Iran, they've been waging war against us for 40 years, and we cannot allow Iran to wage a proxy war against us without fighting back.
In Iraq, now, we have a small presence there. It might have been smaller if we hadn't, precipitously withdrawn in 2011. I saw Iraq at some of its worst times in 2006. The surge worked.
President Bush handed over an Iraq that was largely stable in 2008 to President Obama. President Obama unwisely maintained the stance that he had taken during the campaign that he was going to withdraw all of the troops regardless of the conditions on the ground.
We might have many fewer troops on the ground in Iraq right now, if we had just maintained that stable presence in 2011. That's what I would prefer to see, a smaller presence there, but also a stable country in which you don't say, a vicious terrorist organization like the Islamic State rise from the ashes and start threatening Americans again, because ultimately, if we withdraw entirely from the Middle East, the Middle East is very likely going to follow us back to the United States as it did on 9/11.
That doesn't mean that we have to have a hundred thousand troops. That doesn't mean that we have to try to remake these countries into, you know, Western European democracies. But it does mean that at times, we have to have troop presence in the Middle East, so we can project power and we can ensure that threats don't gather there and materialize here.
LEVIN: And wars aren't fought with muskets anymore, are they?
COTTON: No, they're not.
LEVIN: Intercontinental ballistic missiles. Nuclear warheads. So when people say, well, that's 7,000 miles, that's 10,000 miles away. Isn't that why the enemy builds ICBMs?
COTTON: Well, that's why Iran is building ICBMs. And you know, you don't put conventional warheads on ICBMs either. There's only one reason why you build a missile that can fly from Iran to Europe and ultimately to the United States, and that's so you can have a nuclear warhead on that.
But at the other end of the scale, we saw 9/11, what someone with just a few hundred thousand dollars and resolve and some committed fanatics could do as well.
That is why it's so essential that we don't allow power vacuums to rise in places that have large numbers of highly skilled, highly motivated terrorists fighters, as in Iraq, as in Syria when the Islamic State dominated there, because those people although they may be playing a near game against their sectarian rivals or their own governments, ultimately, they focus on what Iran calls the Great Satan, the United States.
LEVIN: And do Americans not travel abroad? Do we not have diplomats abroad? Do we not have businesses abroad? I mean, don't we need to protect embassies and American interests?
COTTON: Embassies in every country. You know, when President Trump directed the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, we also killed a man named Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was Qasem Soleimani's main deputy in Iraq.
In fact, it was his militia, Kata'ib Hezbollah that killed the American linguist on December 27th and wounded several other American troopers.
That man has a long and bloody history as well. He was responsible for bombing the United States Embassy in Kuwait in 1983. So this threat is not limited to Iraq or to where we have troops in the Middle East.
And Iran just because the President prevailed in this round and they are once again scared of the United States, they're not going to pull in their horns. Americans are traveling around the world, our embassies remain at risk of Iranian terror. That's why it's so important that we continue to stress the red line that if a single American is harmed by Iran or its proxies, they will once again face severe consequences.
LEVIN: Warmonger -- this is the word or the phrase that seems to be pushed out there if you believe in a robust national security, the strongest defense on the face of the earth, and from time to time the necessity of using it.
I'm not talking about a quarter of a million troops abusing it. You've been called a warmonger. What do you make of that?
COTTON: Well, you know, you said that you were an old Reaganite, Mark, and I subscribe to Reagan's Doctrine of peace through strength as well or what our first President, George Washington said that the most effective mechanism of preserving peace is to be prepared for war.
That may seem a paradox, but is a truth through the ages. That weakness is provocative and it invites attacks upon you. Anyone who has seen the face of war up close to see what it does to the soldiers who find it or the civilians around him in his fight.
The last thing one wants to see is another war. But you also know that we have to be prepared to fight that war if we want to deter our adversaries from starting it in the first place.
LEVIN: When we return, I want to explore with you what I consider the Trump Doctrine when it comes to foreign policy, national security and the use of military forces.
Ladies and gentlemen, don't forget, most weeknights you can see me on Levin TV. You can join by calling 844-LEVIN-TV, 844-LEVIN-TV or go to blazetv.com/mark, blazetv.com/mark to sign up. We'll be right back.
LEVIN: Senator Tom Cotton, World War III didn't happen. We kept hearing about World War III. And they treat the President in such disrespectful ways like somebody has to tell him to tamp it down or he is listening to this guy or that guy -- the President -- you know him well enough. He makes his own decisions. He takes in the information and he makes his own decisions.
What I think the media and the Democrats and many Republicans are missing is there is a Trump Doctrine. Let me give you my thumbnail sketch, see if you agree or can add to it or whatever.
He sees what Obama did, basically appeasement and the dismantling of the United States military. He says, I'm not for that. That's a disaster.
He sees the Bush Doctrine, which effectively was built up the United States military, but much more aggressive and interventionism and in state-building. The President goes, well, I'm not for that. I've never been for that. He was against the Iraq War.
So what does he do? He says, I want America to be the strongest nation on the face here if we're going to build up our military. I have no problem with diplomacy. In fact, I'll talk to these dictators. People say no, no, don't do this. No, I'll talk to them.
But if you're going to attack America, if you're going to kill Americans, and American soldiers, I'm going to stop you. Reagan never sent a quarter-million troops anywhere and he defeated the Soviet Union. He pushed many of the communist regimes out of Central and South America, and parts of Africa. He was respected and feared by our enemies.
Trump is respected and feared by our enemies. The Trump Doctrine reminds me of sort of the Reagan Doctrine with a Trump overlay, and I think everybody is missing this. What do you think about that?
COTTON: I think that's pretty well said, Mark. The Obama Doctrine was a bad overcorrection to what had happened in the Bush years. As you say, we badly harmed our military and hollowed it out in many ways and turned the other cheek consistently.
Even when Brock Obama promised a red line, he wouldn't even enforce it, as happened in Syria after Bashar Al-Assad gassed his own people.
Donald Trump came into office and said we're not going to try to turn countries that have never had any kind of tradition in constitutional democracy into a Western European parliamentary government, but at the same time, we're going to enforce red lines.
In fact, he enforced Barack Obama's own red line twice in Syria and his red line in Iran has been very clear for the last several months, if you harm an American, you'll suffer severe consequences. And when Qasem Soleimani's proxies killed an American linguist and harmed several troopers, he did just that.
That's still our red line going forward in the future. In some ways, it's kind of like what Reagan did with Iran. You know, you remember in 1988, when a U.S. Navy vessel was struck by an Iranian mine and Ronald Reagan sunk about half of the Iranian Navy in return.
But that was three -- after three years of Iran mining those waters and Reagan practiced restraint and forbearance at the time. Now, of course, he had the threat of the Soviet Union to consider as well.
But even if you look at the threats that the Soviet Union posed to the United States during the Cold War, I think China poses a similar threat to the United States going forward in the 21st Century. Donald Trump also appreciates that threat.
He has done a lot to bring along frankly a lot of people in my party who didn't share my view of China or Donald Trump's view of China more focused on just getting cheap stuff from China. He's changed the views of a lot of Republicans on China. That may be why, ultimately, China is -- and our views of China are part of the most durable parts of the Trump Doctrine and the Trump foreign policy because it is probably the most bipartisan part at this point.
LEVIN: Let's talk about China. I consider China the greatest threat we face. Iran is a tremendous threat, too, but China is a massive country. And they've stolen our technology to the point where they're probably has or are more sophisticated now than the Russians when it comes to military hardware.
They're ahead of us in Space Technology, thanks to the Obama administration. Cyberwarfare, they're on the cutting edge. They are developing an offensive-oriented military, not a regional military, a global military.
Both sides of the Panama Canal, Chinese contractors -- Reagan would never allow that. I don't believe for a minute.
Trump inherits this stuff. He didn't create this. I mean, the Chinese were building these phony islands in the South China Sea when he became President of the United States. North Korea had nukes when he became President of the United States. The Iran Deal is something he had to fix, he had to address when he became President. He gets almost no credit.
The constant attacks in the media by these former Obama appointees and others going on and on about how he is rash. Where has he been rash, exactly?
I mean, I think he's been very cogent, very systematic. And I think there's a real Doctrine behind this. Now, let's talk about China. What do we do about China?
COTTON: Well, so first off, I think there's no question that China is the greatest threat we face in the years ahead. Iran and North Korea are threats. They have a tendency because they're rogue nations to generate these crises, but they do not have the ability to displace the United States as the world's superpower.
Russia is a declining power. They still have a large nuclear arsenal. They have great Intelligence capabilities. They're increasing their military capabilities. But Russia is a troubled and declining power.
China is still a rising power. A lot of people in Washington in both parties made a lot of mistakes about China over the last 20 years, thinking that if we just sent more of our jobs there, if we outsource more of our factories there, if we brought more cheap stuff back here, all of a sudden China would become a peaceful, Western-style democracy.
The exact opposite has happened. China has become more repressive over the last 20 years as they've moved from the era of Deng Xiaoping to now, to the era of Xi Jinping who is the most powerful Chinese ruler since Mao Zedong.
And as you say, they are acting out in ways that are trying to project that power all around the world through their Belt and Road Initiative, trying to buy off countries around the world, militarizing the South China Sea by building islands out of the sea, by trying to compete with us in space and in cyber technology, trying to displace us as the world's largest economy.
The President has China a hundred percent right. On every front, we need to draw boundaries on China, and we need to compete with them and ultimately defeat them -- economic, diplomatic, political, military, you name it.
LEVIN: And you're saying, and I agree that President Trump is way ahead of the curve on this, and this is why watching the last week or 10 days, the attacks on him, his staff, his advisers, really are so off the mark. He is way ahead of everybody else when it comes to China and you have been, too, by the way when it comes to China.
And I think what he is doing now is he is dealing with it economically. And he is building up the United States military and he has created the Space Force.
So he is not one of these Code Pink Republicans. He is not an appeaser. He is not like some of your colleagues, sort of a radical ideologue. He is not even an ideologues at all. He is bringing prudence to the job. He sees a problem, he is trying to fix it without an ideological approach, whether it's the Bush Doctrine, or the Obama Doctrine, do you agree with that?
COTTON: Yes. And a lot of the things he campaigned on, Mark, no one should be surprised about this. He campaigned against the Iran Nuclear Deal. I remember talking to him repeatedly in the campaign about how bad the Iran Nuclear Deal was. He talked about how bad our trade deals were with China and that he would confront China.
So no one should be surprised at these things. I mean, he said in the campaign that he would put America first. I know that may give the vapors to some people in Washington, D.C., but to most folks in Arkansas, or in places like Michigan or Wisconsin, it just seems like common sense.
Of course, you want the American president to put our country first and to protect our interests, whether it's our jobs and our economy, or our national security.
LEVIN: We'll be right back.
AISHAH HASNIE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Live from "America's News Headquarters," I'm Aishah Hasnie. Word is coming in from Iraq right now that at least six rockets have hit an airbase that's home to some U.S. service members. The base located just north of Baghdad offers training and strategic advice to the Iraqi Air Force. No reports of any injuries among American or coalition forces, but the Iraqi military says four of its soldiers were hurt. No group has claimed responsibility so far.
Iranian demonstrators in the meantime are defying police for the second straight day in response to their government's admission that it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian jetliner. All 176 people on board were killed, and the Iranian people want those responsible to be held accountable.
Riot police have been deployed around Tehran, but videos posted overnight suggest the protests are no longer limited within the capital.
I'm Aishah Hasnie. Back to "Life, Liberty & Levin."
LEVIN: Senator Tom Cotton, you wrote a book, "Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour of Arlington National Cemetery." It's a beautiful book. What is your relationship to this?
COTTON: Mark, between my tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I started with the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. It's -- literally, the Old Guard is the oldest active-duty regiment and our Army trace its lineage back to the days of George Washington, still wears the uniforms in some cases, of Washington's own personal guard. But since 1948, it's been our nation ceremonial unit.
So the last 72 years, it's performed military honor funerals in Arlington, ceremonies around the Capitol region. Perhaps most famously, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I served there in 2007 and 2008 where I conducted hundreds of funerals for fallen comrades or our veterans from World War II and the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Many people are familiar with the Old Guard. You know, Arlington gets four million visitors a year. There have been many great books written about Arlington Cemetery itself, but the Old Guard story had never really been told. I want to tell that story because I think the kind of honor and respect that those soldiers on that most sacred ground pay to our fallen heroes really reflects how Americans feel about those who have borne the battle for us and defended our freedom over the years.
LEVIN: It's a very beautiful book, very inspiring, and just to see what the men and the women do with their uniforms, how meticulous they are with the medals, and all the rest of it is really a beautiful, beautiful thing. So I want to thank you for that as well.
COTTON: Thank you.
LEVIN: I want to get into this issue of one other foreign policy issue: Israel. President Trump has been the most pro-Israel president since there's been a State of Israel.
He promised certain things and he did certain things. He's got like an 80 percent popularity rate in Israel. Now, you haven't been around that long, but you've been around long enough to see Presidents make promises and not follow through with them. Your thoughts.
COTTON: Yes, I've been to Israel several times and I've seen the change in my time in Congress first under President Obama, and now with President Trump on the relationship between the United States and Israel.
President Obama said explicitly that he wanted to have daylight between the U.S. and Israel because he thought that would help push them to make peace with their neighbors. It just didn't work. It encouraged malign behavior towards Israel.
Israel is the only constitutional democracy in the Middle East. They are our natural ally. We have a long, deep kinship with them. When we're close to Israel, in fact, it helps Israel in its neighborhood have better relations with countries like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.
And frankly, the relationship is not just between the U.S. and Israel, but Israel, and those countries are as strong as it's ever been, and you mentioned keeping promises, Mark. I think this is a good example of how the President's instincts are often correct, and the so-called experts in Washington are wrong.
Every President, for decades, has promised to move our embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. They always renege on that promise once they get into office, in part because of the so-called foreign policy experts in Washington, predicting dire consequences, there would be rioting in the streets of Arab capitals or there would be attacks on Israel. Donald Trump kept his promise.
He moved our embassy to Jerusalem where it now sits. Where were the protests? Where were the riots? Where was the war?
Likewise, as we talked about earlier, so many of the so-called Democratic foreign policy experts are predicting World War III because the President took a terrorist off the battlefield. We're not in the middle of World War III, last I checked.
So this is just one more example of how the President's instincts are often correct, and that he is keeping the promises that he made on the campaign trail. And in this case, with the embassy, the exact same promise all Presidents had made for decades and he is the only one to keep it.
LEVIN: You've been very outspoken against anti-Semitism, the BDS movement. This new think tank --what is it? The Quincy think tank or whatever it is, a combination of Koch and Soros.
You're a senator from Arkansas, there aren't a whole lot of Jewish people in Arkansas, but you're looking at this from a broader perspective -- the humanity perspective. What do you -- do you see a growing anti-Semitism in our country? On our college campuses? In the media? In the Democratic Party? Worldwide? What are you seeing?
COTTON: Yes, unfortunately, Mark, there is growing anti-Semitism throughout the west to include here in the United States. You saw the terrible vicious attacks in New York City over the Holidays, in the middle of Hanukkah against Jews.
The criminals who attacked those Jews were oftentimes released the very next day because New York has eliminated its bail system and is now turning violent criminals back on the streets, and they go out and attack Jews the very next day again.
You see it in the Boycott Divest Sanctions Movement, which is an effort to single out the Jewish state, the home of the Jewish people for economic warfare.
You see it on our college campuses as well, which is really the heart of the BDS Movement as well.
Unfortunately, it's even infected the Democratic Party in Washington to a degree. One of the first bills we voted on in the Senate last year was a bill to combat anti-Semitism and the BDS Movement. And it split the Democratic Party.
LEVIN: It was controversial.
COTTON: Nancy Pelosi still has refused to bring that bill up for a vote. You saw it in the middle of last year when Ilan Omar, a first-term Representative from Minnesota made anti-Semitic remarks and Nancy Pelosi couldn't even bring a resolution to the floor of the House to censor her specifically for those remarks, some watered-down generic vague resolution instead.
It is the ancient hatred and wherever it festers, conditions can get worse very quickly for everyone.
LEVIN: When we come back, I want to discuss with you impeachment, whether it was unconstitutional in the House, whether the delay is unconstitutional. And what you, as a United States senator think ought to be done about it. We'll be right back.
LEVIN: Senator Cotton, impeachment. We have two Articles of Impeachment. I think we do, anyway, obstruction of Congress. Is the Senate part of Congress by the way? I think so. And then we have -- what's the other one? Something about abuse of power.
Now, you went to Harvard Law School. You're a smart fella. I studied this my entire life, the impeachment clause, treason, bribery, other high crimes and misdemeanors. Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power would fall into the category that was rejected at the Constitutional Convention. Too ambiguous, too nebulous.
You can drive a truck through this stuff. Turning the President into a functionary of the House of Representatives. The way they conducted themselves, no traditional due process. I'm not talking about, you know, the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution: Criminal Issues, and the Fifth Amendment. I'm talking about the rules that have been applied to past Presidents and judges that have been impeached.
She throws them out the window. They conduct a hearing in the Intelligence Committee, which I understand had held a single hearing on Iran, by the way. Now, she holds it up, and she says, I want to see what the Senate is going to do. Who elected Nancy Pelosi, Queen of America? Did you?
COTTON: I did not, Mark. I can assure you that.
LEVIN: She is only a Congresswoman. So now what does the Senate do?
COTTON: So, Mark, you're right about these two Articles of Impeachment. They're very similar to what was rejected at the Constitutional Convention. I think the exact term was maladministration that was under debate, and they rejected it, because it was too vague, too generic. It would be used as a political tool, just because someone disliked the President's policies.
And frankly, that's a lot of what the Democrats in the House and even some of these witnesses have alleged. They've alleged that they wanted to support Ukraine. That we should have sent that money to Ukraine without any delays at all, even though it was sent after just a few weeks, and that this was a bad or unwise decision. That's fine. They're entitled to that opinion, but they're not empowered to make those decisions under our Constitution. Only the President is.
I remember when Nancy Pelosi first took the country down this path back in September, speaking to the President about it. And I said that I know it's frustrating. I know that you want to do the people's business, you just have to remember though that they started impeaching you, the day you got elected. They filed the first Articles just a few weeks after you were sworn in.
And this is depending on how you count things, the third or the fourth effort to impeach the President. At root, no matter the allegations, it goes back to one single sin, defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016.
And as Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff have said, if the Senate doesn't convict Donald Trump on this impeachment round, they're apt to try to impeach him again in the future because they simply refuse to accept the fact that he won in 2016, even though we've got an election in barely nine months.
So what will the Senate do? That's up in part to what the President's lawyers want to do. So for instance, how they want to present their case if they want to call witnesses and so forth.
I can tell you what the Senate is not going to do. We're not going to let Nancy Pelosi dictate to us. I suspect in the coming days, when she sends the Articles and the House Managers to the Senate that will pass the resolution that is similar, if not identical to the resolution that passed a hundred to nothing in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial.
Setting up a timeline for opening arguments and briefs, setting a time for senators to ask questions and then have debates and then the Senate can decide what to do at that point in the Senate trial.
I hope Democrats join us in this measure as they joined us in 1999.
LEVIN: Good luck with that.
COTTON: But you haven't their behavior so far, I don't hold out all that much hope.
LEVIN: See, here's my concern. She has done enormous damage to the Constitution, including the Impeachment Clause. If she and the temporary small majority of Democrats, this faction, this mob, if you will, in the House of Representatives gets away with this and the Senate process is this like a normal impeachment for a trial.
And the standard for impeachment has been changed without an amendment to the Constitution. Any policy disagreement, just throw hundreds of subpoenas at the President, his family, his business partners, make endless allegations, trigger the appointment of a special counsel, if you can, investigations that you want, it comes up with nothing.
Just keep throwing, throwing, throwing, try and burden, try and cripple the President and then come up with these lame overarching allegations. They haven't found the President that's committed any offenses whatsoever. Push them out, because you have the votes. And now the Impeachment Clause of the Constitution has been changed. The only body that can stop this is the United States Senate.
COTTON: Yes, I mean, Mark. It's almost like Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff sat down and read all of the concerns that James Madison and Alexander Hamilton had about the House in the Federalist Papers, like they just went through the Federalist 55, 56, 57, 58 and said, let's pass impeachment on a party-line vote with some of our members actually voting against it, through an inflamed partisan majority in the House of Representatives.
It is therefore incumbent on the Senate to perform the role that the founders wanted us to perform, to be the cool and deliberate sense of the community, as they wrote in Federalist 62 and 63. That's why we have a Senate. That's why it's structured the way it is and that is the role that we are to play here, to make sure that the President gets the fair chance to present his case in the way that he didn't in the House of Representatives and that he has, as you say, not all like the constitutional procedures that you have in a criminal trial because impeachment is not a court of law.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote, it is a political inquiry that is going to be connected to preexisting parties. That's why they gave it to the Senate, not to the Supreme Court or not to some independent body.
It is our role to stop the damage that the House of Representatives has done precisely so they don't use this as a precedent in the future in the House. They recognize that was a very unwise decision that the House Democrats did in 2019. We're not going to do it again in 2025 or 2040 or 2052 or what have you.
LEVIN: We'll be right back.
LEVIN: You know, Senator, we talked about this unconstitutional impeachment process and that's followed by this nonbinding resolution where they vote to -- I don't know what they voted to do -- they extend the War Powers Act to tie the President's hands and so forth. Well, it raises the question, does the War Powers Act of 1973 even constitutional?
COTTON: No, Mark, of course not. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 passed by liberal democratic majorities because they were angry at Richard Nixon in the middle of impeachment, has been regarded as unconstitutional by every President since then, Democrat and Republican alike.
But Congress has a very important role to play in the making of foreign policy in our Constitution. We talked earlier about the Treaty Clause which requires the Senate to ratify treaties if you want a lasting durable commitment from the United States.
We confirm ambassadors. We confirm the Cabinet members like the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. We fund and provide rules and regulations for the Armed Forces. Those are all very important roles that we play. We can declare a war as well, which in my understanding reading the Constitution has traditionally been about the relationships between two warring nations on a legal or consular level.
The fundamental way that we have to stop the President from making war, whether it is limited strikes, like the President took last week, or a major ground war, like we saw in Iraq, is our spending power. If you don't want the President to use the military in certain ways, then you simply refuse to fund it. This happened with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. It happened with the Vietnam War. That's one reason why we had to evacuate from our Embassy in 1975.
That's the fundamental way that Congress can restrain the President's ability to employ the Armed Forces. In fact, Congress tried to do that just a few weeks ago. There was amendments offered to the National Defense Bill that we pass every year that would have prevented the President from using the Armed Forces in any way against Iran or its officials. It failed. It doesn't have the votes.
The War Powers Resolution is not the way that Congress can restrain the Executive. The Congress can't micromanage the way the President uses the Armed Forces. Again, we've talk a lot about the Federalist here. It's like they've never read Federalist 70 that explains why we have a single Executive as opposed to three or four or five-member Executive Council.
This is what the founders considered. They wanted one executive who could act with dispatch and energy and yes, sometimes in secret. And if they rejected the idea of having three or four or five Executives, imagine what they would have thought about having 535 Commanders-in-Chief.
LEVIN: And yet, as you point out, we knew what they thought about. They rejected it. We don't have a Parliament. We have a constitutional republic with three branches. And you're right. Congress has a lot of powerful tools if Congress wants to exercise. They can cut off funding totally. But they don't have the votes to do it.
COTTON: If you don't like what President Trump did last week in killing Qasem Soleimani, or before that, striking five bases of Kata'ib Hezbollah to retaliate for the death of an American, that's fine. Don't introduce a War Powers Resolution, introduce a bill to prevent the President from using any fines, or the Armed Forces against Iran. And if you have the votes, pass it and send it to him. That's all you have to do.
LEVIN: I agree, and I love it. We need to debate Iran -- well, debate. I mean, if the House Intelligence Committee wasn't so busy trying to topple the President of the United States, maybe they will hold a hearing on Iran from time to time and honestly, no offense. I have no idea what the Senate Intelligence Committee is.
COTTON: I can tell you we've had many more than one hearing on Iran.
LEVIN: Okay, well, maybe it's good that I don't know that. All right, ladies and gentlemen, don't forget, most weeknights you can watch me on Levin TV. We'd love to have you. Give us a call 844-LEVIN-TV, 844 LEVIN-TV or go to blazetv.com/mark to sign up, blazetv.com/mark. We'll be right back.
LEVIN: Senator Cotton, the overlay here of the media, you saw with Iran. You've seen it with impeachment. You saw with the so-called Russia collusion, that hoax and so forth. Do you see the media really degrading itself more than really ever in our lifetime?
COTTON: Unfortunately, Mark, very few of the so-called mainstream media organizations even make a pretense of remaining neutral news gathering organizations. They've become outright advocacy organizations.
No matter what the President does, it's always cast in the worst possible light before our strikes against Qasem Soleimani, the President had proven that he was feckless. The United States is weak and Iran was on the march. After Qasem Soleimani was killed, the President is a warmonger and the United States is ready to start World War III.
You see it on issues like you know, guns for instance. You know, the media just makes -- abandons any pretense of being neutral, presenting both sides of an argument. They are outright advocacy organizations and they have become the media wing of the Democratic Party.
And that's unfortunate, it does a real disservice to Americans who want good, reliable news that's gathered every single day. There are still some bright spots. You know, in Arkansas, our newspaper, The Democrat Gazette just celebrated its 200th anniversary, and the publisher there, because he is worried about the decline of standards in news reporting, publishes a statement of core values every day in the newspaper that reflects the tradition of gathering news neutrally and presenting it fairly, that too many news organizations have abandoned.
LEVIN: That's very well said. I can't think of a single major issue whether it's so-called climate change, immigration, the military, law enforcement, the American founding, or the media in this country does an embrace of the radical left and the Democratic Party. I see no space between the two.
I want to thank you again for appearing today and giving us your expertise and don't be a stranger.
COTTON: Thank you, Mark. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.
LEVIN: God bless you. See you next time on "Life, Liberty & Levin."
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