September 5th, 2013
07:04 PM ET
9 years ago

Lawmaker explains his Syria turnabout

(CNN) – Rep. Michael Grimm, who on Monday voiced support for President Barack Obama's plan to strike Syria, stepped away from his endorsement on Thursday by claiming the president was backtracking on previously held postures toward the use of chemical weapons.

The Republican lawmaker, who represents parts of Staten Island, originally said on CNN's "The Situation Room" Monday that he would vote to support Obama's use of force in Syria, saying it would damage American credibility if President Bashar al-Assad wasn't punished for allegedly using sarin gas against his people.

"The president of the United States already committed us," he said Monday. "The president of the United States committed us when he drew the red line. So the idea that we should or we shouldn't strike, I think that ship sailed a long time ago if we want to keep the credibility of the United States."

But on Thursday, Grimm said he could no longer back Obama's plan for military strikes, arguing the president's statement this week that the "world set a red line," rather than himself, amounted to a reversal of policy.

"When I see the president backtracking on what he said, and what I was relying on to back him, that is obviously a big concern for me," Grimm told CNN chief domestic affairs correspondent Jessica Yellin on "The Situation Room."

Pressed on what had changed in Syria since Monday, Grimm claimed there was a growing global sense that Obama was being indecisive about military action.

"I think at this point the world is looking at the indecisiveness, they're looking at how the president has bungled this and now we can no longer get our credibility back," he said. "When I weigh everything - the extreme cost of war and the extreme cost of human life that could be the reality if we strike - we can no longer get our credibility back. I'm not sure what the end game is."

"The president and administration has failed to really explain exactly what the plan is, what the goal is and that's a big problem for me," he continued. "We have to know exactly what we're doing, how we're striking and to what end and we have failed to do that."

While those hang-ups were also true Monday, Grimm argued that too much time has passed since the chemical weapons attack for U.S. strikes to be effective.

"By the time the Congress actually votes on this, I don't think we can get our credibility back on this," he said.

Filed under: Syria
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. G

    if they vote no and give the green lite to chemicals –bring all the troops home from the middle east and close the door .

    September 5, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Jules

    What changed for Grimm? He decided he was a chicken. The world did set a red line in the UN treaty on weapons of mass destruction. What a yahoo – I was for it before I was against it.

    September 5, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. Amazing

    He should just admit he is a wimp who could not stand on his own. Somebody got to him and that is why he changed his mind.

    September 5, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. onlyfacts

    Here we go!

    September 5, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  5. boungiorno

    we can't help ourselves if our goverment puts their nose in other peoples business all the time, and doesn't practice what they preach them selves.

    September 5, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. Pete

    Michael Grimm represents ALL of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn not parts of Staten Island.

    September 5, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  7. vikingwoman

    Brother Grimm has it all wrong! This is not about "US credibility," it's about stopping a tyrant from using chemical weapons on his own people, again & anytime he feels like it! I recall clearly that it was a UN dicussion about the "red line" & I 'm pretty certain this rep. knows that! He just want's to (suprise) blame Obama! Again, Bro Grimm, it has nothing to do w/credibility, but about the President being careful about his choices! I for 1 hope for an international force to stop al-Assad's gruesome tactics!!

    September 5, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  8. David R

    What a punk.

    September 5, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  9. Thomas

    Ok , let me get this strait , Rep. Michael Grimm on Monday supports the President , Then on Thursday changes his mind on supporting the president. Then say's the president is backtracking and indecisive ?

    Grimm argued that too much time has passed since the chemical weapons attack for U.S. strikes to be effective.
    Where do these spineless nut jobs like Grimm come from and who votes them into office , US-Israel Relationship ... Rep. Grimm is the Co-Chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus. Michael Grimm says Israel is America's 'sister state.

    September 6, 2013 04:01 am at 4:01 am |

    Israel's puppets in the GOBP tea potty will do what they are programmed to do.

    September 6, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  11. Vader

    Sounds like someone has had a woodshed talking to by the Republican "leadership".

    September 6, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    The House isn't going to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force. I hope this failure shocks some people back to reality.

    September 6, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    arguing the president's statement this week that the "world set a red line," rather than himself, amounted to a reversal of policy.
    The world DID set a red line, a red line that when it came down to it NO ONE but us was willing to steup up to.
    Look, you have international laws against the use of chemical weapons set by a gloabal organization.
    The global organization is made up by world powers. Countries.
    Those laws, norms were violated by Syria.
    Now those world powers are hesitant, unwilling, unable, or too scared to enforce the consequences of breaking those laws. Everybody that is but the United States.
    So President Obama is right.
    Just because he is the only one that is willing to step up and apply consequences to Syria's violations of INTERNATIONAL LAWS does not mean that he was the only one that drew the red line.
    The WORLD did in fact draw the red line.
    Now the WORLD is punking up.

    September 6, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    2 words: Primary threat. That explains his turnaround rather neatly.

    September 6, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  15. RIchard Long

    If a Democrat did the same thing, you wouldn't know he was democrat until you get to the bottom of the article. However it is the first thing mentioned in the article.

    CNN = The voice of the Obama Regime

    September 6, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  16. Dixie

    I believe if Obama wants to get the US behind him HE MUST address the people. He should not have throne Mr. KERRY under the bus. He lost the little respect he had when he did what he did.

    September 6, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  17. Name

    Ha ha! "I was for it, before I was against it" Isn't that the Tea Patriots mantra? Or is it – "Just say No-Bama"? Is the circus in town – I think one of their clowns escaped?

    September 6, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  18. Peace

    I get difficulties to understand these lawmakers. Are they giving this issue a deep thought as it is required? What Assad did is beyond anyone's beliefs. This kind of behaviour is not acceptable and can't be allowed to continue. He must be punished severely. Fighting with chemicals and killing even those who do not know what is happening is unforgivable offense. The world we are living in now is quite delicate. Just imagine those who used planes during Sept. 11, 2001 could had chemicals weapons, millions of New Yorkers could be dead.
    If congress doesn't take action now by voting to punish Assad, tell us what you will tell anyone when and not if, this madman Assad will use chemicals again? And he is going to use them as you will give him a green light to proceed if you don't stop him immediately.

    September 6, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  19. Anonymous

    My how things have changed since George Bush and his lackeys went about America crying "if your not for us, you are against us". I rue the day America voted this man as President of the United States. Isn't it time we put the past in the past and start coming together as Americans and work together FOR America and not AGAINST America? Or has the media pulled us too far into the ditch of bickering politics that we can no longer think for ourselves but must grab each piece of red meat we are given? I rue the day the Republican Party nominated John McCain as their spokesperson. It is time for the Republican Party to come to grips with itself and start backing viable candidates. Not Chris Christie. Not Rand Paul. Not Ted Cruz.

    September 6, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  20. Joi Gibson

    Again, call me cynical, but I think he got worried about his own butt and therefore changed his mind.

    September 6, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  21. Raul Brown

    What an idiot. He is hiding behind a potlitical effort to embarrass the president at any cost, including the cost of doing nothing and letting Syria, Iran and Russia get away with murder through the use of chemical weapons. I wonder what his position will be next time they use chemical weapons, if we do nothing.

    September 6, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    I find the evolving position on the right to be highly entertaining. Watching hundreds of people perform a perfectly synchronized, collective flip-flop of the hive mind is one for the Guiness Book. What will even more fascninating to watch will be their denial speeches on the awards platform.

    September 6, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Last week I too was questioning why get involved in Syria's killing of its' people through the use of chemical weapons when we have NOT gotten involved in the massacring of the people in Dafur, other African nations and Bosnia for example.
    I can now a week later answer my own question.
    It is not a matter of choosing to get involved in one country versus another.
    It is a matter of one country killing its' people by employing the use of chemical weapons and thus violating international laws against the use of chemical weapons.
    That is what sets Syria apart from these other countries' civil wars.
    This is why this "debate" over should we do something or not.
    Of course we should. We signed an agreement that said we would.
    They are killing their people not with "conventional" weapons (guns, machetes, etc) but by using chemical weapons that have been banned by the "world".
    They are in violation of international laws.
    What a difference a weapon makes......

    September 6, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. kirk

    And so it starts, we haven't forgotten the last dozen times you gophers renigin on your votes with some lame excuse.what I see is a puppet who's masters are bored and decided to jerk their strings to watch them jump.what has become of the Republican party is nothing short of just sad.

    September 6, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Rudy NYC
    I find the evolving position on the right to be highly entertaining.

    It find it equally entertaining here on the ticker as well. Five years of comments from the right are being collectively flushed down the drain. Others have predicted this time would come. Now that it is here, I will sit back and chuckle with you.

    September 6, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
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