McConnell: Syrian President Bashar Assad 'is a mass murderer'

Posted at 5:46 PM, Apr 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-12 07:23:33-04

FLORENCE, Ky. -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday any future for Syria can't include its current president, Bashar Assad, "because he is a mass murderer."

McConnell, who opposed then-President Barack Obama's proposal for U.S. military action against Syria in 2013, praised current President Donald Trump's missile strike on the Syrian regime. The Kentucky Republican spoke briefly to media Tuesday at a news conference -- about 15 minutes in all, much of it spent talking up Trump's actions in recent days.

The missile strike targeted a Syrian air base, which U.S. defense officials say is where Assad's military launched a chemical attack against its own people.

McConnell told reporters he believed the next step in Syria is to take out Raqqa, the Islamic State's stronghold.

It's a clear mission, McConnell said.

"We are trying to help achieve that with our resources," he told reporters Tuesday. "That will not solve the ultimate Syrian complex situation, but I can't imagine any solution that could include the continued regime of Assad, because he is a mass murderer."

McConnell on Tuesday also praised Trump for his win with new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. McConnell masterminded the strategy that allowed Trump to place Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court: He refused to hold confirmation hearings on Obama's nominee after Justice Antonin Scalia died more than a year ago.

Democrats at first mounted a filibuster of Gorsuch last week -- so McConnell and other Republicans acted unilaterally to lower the vote threshold on Supreme Court filibusters from 60 to a simple majority in the 100-member Senate.

Gorsuch, McConnell said, is a solid and well-qualified choice.