Virginia State Senator Who Visited Assad Defends Syrian President

April 13, 2018 AT 10:20 AM

A state legislator who once flew to Damascus for a two-hour sit-down with Bashar al-Assad took to the floor of the Virginia Senate this week to say the Syrian president might have been framed with a suspected chemical attack — if the attack happened at all.

“It is not entirely clear that there was an attack,” Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) said in a 20-minute speech on the floor of Virginia Senate on Wednesday. “There was a doctor, from the hospital — from the main hospital in Douma — who has said, ‘We haven’t received any casualties. Nobody has been sent in.’ ”

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a global watchdog, has sent inspectors to Syria to try to confirm whether it was a chemical attack that killed dozens in Damascus on Saturday.

But in Richmond, the sequence of events was clear: Black spoke; Democrats erupted.

“While legislators from around the Commonwealth came to Richmond for a special session to work out a budget and deliver healthcare to 400,000 Virginians in the Medicaid coverage gap, Dick Black felt a better use of the people’s time was to mock Assad’s latest chemical atrocity as a ‘false flag’ attack,” the Democratic Party of Virginia said in a news release. “Black said not a word about the budget or helping uninsured Virginians, using his time only to offer a defense of one of the world’s most murderous dictators.”

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