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Kaine, uneasy about potential war with Iran, says Lincoln Strike Group deployment was distorted

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and its carrier strike force are heading for the Middle East to put pressure on the government of Iran.  

The Lincoln’s strike force includes a guided missile cruiser, 3 guided missile destroyers and other aircraft ranging from fighter jets to helicopters.  

The deployment is in response to growing threats from Iran, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“We’re taking all the appropriate action from a security perspective,” Pompeo said.

Pentagon officials redirected U.S. forces to the Middle East and called on Iran to cease military actions.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D) said changing the course of the Virginia-based carrier could escalate tensions.

“We do have significant concerns with Iran,” said Sen. Kaine. “But I am deeply worried that the U.S. is taking a whole series of actions that are running the risk of a completely unnecessary war with Iran.”

Here’s Kaine’s full statement: 

“I’m deeply worried that the Trump Administration is leading us toward an unnecessary war with Iran. One year ago, the President withdrew the United States from the deal that prevented Iran from building nuclear weapons. In the months since, Trump’s White House has taken a series of actions to increase tensions, including misrepresenting the regular deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln as a warning to Iran. Let me make one thing clear: The Trump Administration has no legal authority to start a war against Iran without the consent of Congress.”

For years, Kaine has been the leading voice in Congress raising concerns over Presidents’ efforts to expand the use of military force without congressional authorization. He penned a piece in the Atlantic in July of 2018 warning against the Trump Administration starting a war with Iran. Kaine has introduced updated authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs) to repeal the 2001 and 2002 authorizations, reassert Congress’ role in authorizing military action, and take away the blank check that multiple Presidents have used to fight wars across the globe.

The administration said it doesn’t want to start a war with Iran. But it wants to send a clear message that any attack on the U.S. or our allies will be met with force.

Supporters, including Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, said the goal is to prevent military action and protect the U.S.

“No one wants conflict. I certainly don’t want war with Iran” said Cornyn. “But we can’t allow them to run rough shot and threaten American lives and interest without consequence.” 

Kaine wants to make sure Congress can weigh in on any military action. Administration officials said the deployment is merely a warning sign, but the U.S. is prepared to respond to any attacks.