President Trump officially notified Congress on Saturday of the drone missile strike that killed a top Iranian general in Iraq, in a move that checks off a key legal box but left Democrats with even more questions about the president’s motives.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the notification is classified, so the details can’t be made public. She called that a “highly unusual” move that shields an important conversation from public view.
“This document prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran,” the California Democrat said.
The missile strike assassinated Qassem Soleimani, who as head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is blamed for orchestrating terrorist attacks and insurgencies that have cost American lives.
Few Americans defend the general.
But Mrs. Pelosi called killing him “provocative, escalatory and disproportionate.”
“This initiation of hostilities was taken without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran, without the consultation of the Congress and without the articulation of a clear and legitimate strategy to either the Congress or the public,” she said.
The administration says it had the power to conduct the strikes under the 2002 AUMF approved by Congress to permit then-President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
White House and Defense Department officials say Soleimani was actively plotting more attacks that could have killed Americans.
No specifics have been revealed.
Saturday’s notification came under the War Powers Resolution, a 1970s-era law that governs how presidents are to conduct military operations short of a declaration of war by the Congress.