- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the end of the month, committee chairman Eliot Engel announced Friday.

Mr. Pompeo has previously rejected the committee’s calls for a public hearing in the wake of the fatal Jan. 3 attack on former Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

“The decision to kill Soleimani escalated tensions with Iran and risked plunging us into a war with Iran that the American people don’t want and that Congress hasn’t authorized,” Mr. Engel, New York Democrat, said in a statement.

Following the strike, Democratic lawmakers quickly grew skeptical of the administration’s justification for the strike after the White House said the move was in response to an “imminent threat” posed by Soleimani.

“This spurious, after-the-fact explanation won’t do. We need answers and testimony,” Mr. Engel said in a statement rebuffing a newly released congressionally-mandated White House report on the policy rationale behind the strike.

In the report, the White House argues President Trump “directed this action in response to an escalating series of attacks in the preceding months by Iran and Iran-backed militias.”

“The purpose of this action were to protect United States personnel, to deter Iran from conducting or supporting further attacks against United States forces and interests …. and to end Iran’s strategic escalation of attacks on, and threats to United States interests,” the report continued.

The administration maintained the strike was taken for self-defense purposes, despite pushback from lawmakers who claim the White House operated without the necessary approval of Congress.

One day prior, the Senate passed a War Powers resolution that will require the executive branch to end any military hostilities in Iran within 30 days and obtain express congressional approval to carry out further action. The resolution is expected to pass through the House in coming weeks, but is set to be vetoed by Mr. Trump.

“I look forward to Secretary Pompeo testifying before the committee at an open February 28 hearing on Iran and Iraq policy, including the Soleimani strike and war powers,” Mr. Engel said.

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