Sen. McSally defends John Bolton on Iran, says US doesn't want war: 'Stop playing politics'

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally on Wednesday blasted those who’ve criticized National Security Adviser John Bolton as a “war monger” amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

“I think he is a realist. I know John Bolton and I know he cares about protecting Americans and their interests. I just think this type of infighting is not helpful right now,” McSally, an Arizona Republican, said during an appearance on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

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McSally encouraged her Senate colleagues to “get the classified information on what we are dealing with.”

“Any situation where there are threats like this, we present courses of action to be able to protect America,” McSally said. “That is what we are going through right now and I think that is what Americans want us to do. Stop playing politics with this and let’s make sure we present all the options available to keep us safe and keep our troops and Americans safe.”

Critics of the Trump administration have suggested that false information is being presented to make the case for war, just as George W. Bush’s administration did in 2002 with the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. Bolton, who was undersecretary of state for arms control and international security at the time, argued falsely back then that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.

At the root of the current conflict with Iran appears to be Trump’s decision a year ago to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, embarking instead on a sanctions campaign against Tehran. In response, Iran’s supreme leader issued a thinly veiled threat on Tuesday, saying it wouldn’t be difficult for the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels.

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McSally, an Air Force vet, addressed the threat Iran poses to America but made it clear that war should be avoided.

“Economically we are now cranking up the sanctions and we pulled out of the Iran deal, which I supported, and our military presence our deference options are available as well as diplomatic action in order to keep us safe,” McSally said. “As someone who has been to war, that is something we certainly don’t want. We want to be able to protect our interests. Iran has a very complex and militarized state so we have to try and de-escalate this using the elements of power that we have, but also be ready to protect Americans.”