A GOP lawmaker and Purple Heart recipient gave Congress the 2-minute silent treatment over Iran

Republican Rep. Brian Mast of Florida.

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Republican Rep. Brian Mast of Florida.
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J. Scott Applewhite
  • A Republican lawmaker and US Army veteran spent roughly two minutes of his allotted speaking time in silence during a House hearing with former US officials on Tuesday.
  • Rep. Brian Mast of Florida, a retired US Army bomb technician and Purple Heart recipient, was arguing in favor of the US killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
  • “If you walk about this hallway … you’re going to come to several beautiful walls that have the names of our fallen service members from the war on terror,” Mast said. “And I would ask, can any of you provide me with one name on that wall that doesn’t justify killing Soleimani?”
  • “I got two minutes and 30 seconds. I’ll be more than happy to sit here and wait,” Mast added, before the silence. “Somebody provide me with a name on that wall that does not justify his killing.”
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A Republican lawmaker and US Army veteran spent roughly two minutes of his allotted speaking time in silence during a House hearing with former US officials on Tuesday.

Rep. Brian Mast of Florida, a retired US Army bomb technician and Purple Heart recipient, gave his colleagues the silent treatment to make a point in favor of the US killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

Mast argued against the caution from his Democratic colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee, saying that Soleimani was a threat regardless of what exactly he was doing on the visit to Iraq when he died.

“Just because [a] machine gun nest might be taking a moment to reload, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an imminent threat,” Mast said.

As the leader of the Iranian paramilitary group known as the Quds Force, Soleimani trained militants who attacked the US with sophisticated explosives.

Mast, a bomb disposal specialist, was injured by an improvised explosive device in 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. His injuries required both of his legs to be amputated.

“If you walk about this hallway … you’re going to come to several beautiful walls that have the names of our fallen service members from the war on terror,” Mast said. “And I would ask, can any of you provide me with one name on that wall that doesn’t justify killing Soleimani?”

“I got two minutes and 30 seconds. I’ll be more than happy to sit here and wait,” Mast added, before the silence. “Somebody provide me with a name on that wall that does not justify his killing.”

The chairman of the committee, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, interrupted the presentation: “The gentleman may continue,” Engel said.

“I’m continuing, Mr. Chairman. I got two minutes remaining,” Mast said. “I will sit here and wait for somebody to provide me with a name on that wall that does not justify the killing of Soleimani.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mast,” Engel said. “I think you have made your point.”

The hearing briefly went off the rails as the two lawmakers had a heated exchange on decorum.

“Mr. Chairman, I have not yielded back my time,” Mast said.

“You are disrupting,” Engel said, adding that Mast was “out of order.”

After Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota yielded some of his time to Mast, the Republican continued his silent protest.

“I will note that there was no response of one name offered that did not justify the killing of Soleimani,” Mast said after the pause.

The tense exchange illustrated the differing opinions of the two parties on Capitol Hill after the killing of Soleimani.

Soleimani was killed in a US-led airstrike shortly after arriving in Baghdad, Iraq, on January 3.

The Trump administration claimed the attack was authorized because of the “imminent” threat Soleimani posed to US forces. However, subsequent statements have called into question how sure of this they are.

“There is no doubt that there were a series of imminent attacks that were being plotted by Qassem Soleimani,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Fox News interview that aired Thursday.

“We don’t know precisely when, and we don’t know precisely where, but it was real.”

Critics pointed to the lack of evidence that President Donald Trump provided for his decision, and also say that killing Soleimani has fueled strife in an already unstable region.