Senator Rand Paul described national security adviser John Bolton as a “malign influence” on the Trump administration.
According to The Hill, Paul is “alarmed by the recent mobilization of U.S. combat troops” in the Persian Gulf to counter a perceived threat from Iran.
When asked about Bolton’s role in a recent deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf, Paul said, “I fear that he’s a malignancy, a malignant influence on the administration.”
The Kentucky Senator is of the opinion that Bolton is one of hawks trying to derail Trump’s America First foreign policy.
According to a New York Times report, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan showed President Trump a plan calling for the deployment of 120,000 troops to the Middle East, allegedly at Bolton’s request.
Paul fears that “there are people that will overreact to this intelligence and somehow get us involved in a military conflict from which there’s no turning back.”
The Senator added, “The question is that’s being done in reaction to our increased presence there and our naming all of the Revolutionary Guards as terrorists, is this a reaction to our policy or is it simply an aggressive policy saying we’re going to start war.”
On Thursday, President Trump said that he hopes that the U.S. does not go to war with Iran.
In a conference call, Paul told reporters that he was worried about how a military buildup could increase the potential for a hot conflict between the U.S. and Iran.
Paul stated, “I think the most important thing is to put the administration on notice that they do not have congressional permission to go to war with Iran and we need to make sure we’re not involved in anything that is provocative enough to encourage a skirmish that leads to a bigger war.”
The Senator did emphasize that the U.S. should defend its troops and diplomatic facilities, but that the U.S. should still exercise caution with Iran.
He emphasized that “provocation can occur on both sides and we need to be wary.”