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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 7, 2020
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman January 7, 2020

Nikki Haley’s Pants on Fire claim that top Democrats are mourning Soleimani

If Your Time is short

  • Most of the top congressional Democrats and the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have gone out of their way to say that Soleimani was a bad actor who is responsible for many deaths, including deaths of Americans.
  • The few top Democrats who didn’t go out of their way to say something along those lines simply ignored him in their statements.

Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, baselessly accused leading Democrats of mourning the death of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani.

In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News Jan. 6, Haley praised Trump’s actions to take out Soleimani with a drone strike of his vehicle near the airport outside Baghdad. While the world knows that he was "evil," Haley said, she accused top Democrats of grieving his loss.

"You don’t see anyone standing up for Iran," Haley said. "You are not hearing any of the Gulf members, you are not hearing China, you are not hearing Russia. The only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates."

Haley proceeded to tweet out her statement.

But Haley is wrong in counting top Democrats among the mourners of Soleimani. 

RELATED FACT-CHECK: Haley wrongly says Congress had no input on Iran nuclear deal

Leading Democrats running for president 

The five Democrats who have qualified so far for the Jan. 14 debate in Iowa — Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar — all expressed concern about the potential for Trump’s strike on Soleimani to escalate tensions and prompt a rush for war. However, four of the five prefaced their comments by saying that Soleimani was a dangerous man with blood on his hands. None had anything close to praise for him or sympathy for his death.

Here are some of the statements by these Democrats: 

Biden: In a written statement, the former vice president said that "no American will mourn Qassem Soleimani’s passing." He added that Soleimani deserved to be brought to justice and "supported terror and sowed chaos." 

Biden said Trump owes Americans an explanation of his strategy and how he plans to keep troops safe. "I hope the administration has thought through the second- and third-order consequences of the paths they have chosen," Biden wrote.

Later, on Jan. 3, Biden made a similar statement, criticizing Soleimani as the "architect of the slaughter of countless lives in the region" and stating that "no American mourns his passing." He said Americans don’t want another war in the Middle East and that Trump shouldn’t take us to war without congressional approval.

Warren: The Massachusetts senator’s message evolved in the days after the airstrike. But nothing she wrote could be considered an expression of "mourning."

In her initial tweet, she explicitly called Soleimani "a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans." She went on to call Trump’s action "reckless" and something that "escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict."

In a second tweet, she didn’t repeat the preface criticizing Soleimani, nor did she in comments to CNN’s Jake Tapper. Instead, she focused on criticizing Trump for his handling of policy toward Iran. In these later statements, Warren said nothing positive about Soleimani.

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Buttigieg: In a statement, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor said that Soleimani was a threat who "masterminded threats and attacks on Americans and our allies, leading to hundreds of deaths." 

In addition, in Iowa, Buttigieg said Soleimani has "blood on his hands" and that "taking out a bad guy is not a good idea unless you are ready for what comes next." Buttigieg called for a deliberative approach that includes working with Congress and U.S. allies and said we must prepare for the potential of escalation. Buttigieg tweeted that Trump owes American troops a strategy and should give Americans answers. 

Klobuchar: In her statement after the airstrike, the Minnesota senator criticized the "timing, manner, and potential consequences of the administration’s actions." But she prefaced this by saying that "Qassem Soleimani was responsible for directing Iran’s destabilizing actions in Iraq, Syria, and throughout the Middle East, including attacks against U.S. forces."

Sanders: The Vermont senator’s written statement had nothing positive to say about Soleimani, focusing instead on how the "assassination" by Trump was a "dangerous escalation" that "brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars."

He said much the same in a streamed campaign event he tweeted out, briefly mentioning Soleimani but neither explicitly criticizing or praising him.

In an interview with CNN, Sanders called him a "bad news guy" but focused more on his opposition to going to war with Iran.

Several other Democratic presidential candidates also made a point of criticizing Soleimani. 

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said on MSNBC that "Soleimani has American blood on his hands." Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said in a statement that Soleimani "has the blood of Americans and our allies on his hands" and "there is no mourning his death." 

Businessman Tom Steyer tweeted that Soleimani was "a terrorist responsible for killing Americans." And former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted that Soleimani "was a murderer with the blood of Americans on his hands."

The Democratic leadership 

Top congressional Democrats echoed the critiques offered by the presidential candidates.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had harsh words for Soleimani while criticizing the Trump administration’s actions, calling the general a "notorious terrorist" and saying that "no one should shed a tear over his death." 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did not dwell on Soleimani in either of two statements released after the operation. She said in her first statement that the airstrike was "provocative and disproportionate" and in a later statement that it raised "urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification" for the operation. Neither of her statements made any effort to mourn Soleimani. 

Other leading Democrats on foreign policy issues, including Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., also criticized Soleimani. 

A response from Haley’s spokesman included such a broad interpretation of the word "mourning" to render its definition meaningless, saying Democrats are "effectively" mourning Soleimani by questioning whether the United States is better off after his killing.

Our ruling

Haley said the Democratic leadership and presidential candidates "are mourning the loss of Soleimani."

That’s a complete fabrication. Most of the top congressional Democrats and the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have gone out of their way to say that Soleimani was a bad actor who is responsible for many deaths, including deaths of Americans. The few top Democrats who didn’t go out of their way to say something along those lines simply ignored him in their statements.

Haley’s statement is ridiculous. Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Nikki Haley, tweet, Jan. 6, 2020

Fox News, Nikki Haley says the Soleimani strike left the Iranian regime shaking in their boots, Jan. 7, 2020

Elizabeth Warren, tweet, Jan. 2, 2020

Elizabeth Warren, tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Elizabeth Warren, remarks on CNN, Jan 5, 2020

Joe Biden, Tweet, Jan. 2, 2020

Joe Biden, Tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Joe Biden, Tweet, Jan. 5, 2020

Joe Biden, Tweet, Jan. 6, 2020

Pete Buttigieg, Tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Pete Buttigieg, Tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Pete Buttigieg, Tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Amy Klobuchar, tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Bernie Sanders, statement, Jan. 2, 2020

Cory Booker, tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Michael Bennet, statement, Jan. 3, 2020

Tom Steyer, tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Michael Bloomberg, tweet, Jan. 3, 2020

Chris Murphy, tweet, Jan. 2, 2020

Eliot Engel, statement, Jan. 2, 2020

Sen. Chuck Schumer, Statement, Jan. 3, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Statement, Jan. 2, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Statement, Jan. 4, 2020

Washington Free Beacon, "2020 Democratic Field ‘Concerned’ About Strike on Soleimani," Jan. 3, 2020

Vox.com, "Democrats warn of the dangers of war while Republicans fall in line after the killing of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani," Jan. 3, 2020

CNN, "What Elizabeth Warren's statements on Qasem Soleimani really tell us," Jan. 6, 2020

Washington Post, "The game Nikki Haley is playing," Jan. 7, 2020

Mediate, Nikki Haley Absurdly Claims The Only People in the World Mourning Soleimani’s Death Are ‘Democrat Leadership’ Jan. 7, 2020

USA Today, Nikki Haley slammed for claim that Democrats are 'only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani' Jan. 7, 2020

Statement from the office of former Ambassador Nikki Haley to PolitiFact, Jan. 7, 2020

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Nikki Haley’s Pants on Fire claim that top Democrats are mourning Soleimani

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