Senate Democratic leadership is urging President Trump to declassify the official war powers notification he submitted to Congress regarding the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani via a drone strike.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez wrote a letter Sunday to Mr. Trump asking him to release the notification that was transmitted to Congress this weekend. The letter to the president was made public on Monday.
“It is critical that national security matters of such import be shared with the American people in a timely manner,” Mr. Schumer and Mr. Menendez wrote. “An entirely classified notification is simply not appropriate in a democratic society, and there appears to be no legitimate justification for classifying this notification.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters Monday that the Democrats’ letter amounted to “chest-thumping” and said that Congress would be briefed at the Pentagon’s discretion.
Other Democrats have been highly critical of Mr. Trump’s communication, and lack thereof, regarding the strike with Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Saturday the classified nature of the notification to Congress was “highly unusual.”
Mrs. Conway took issue with Democrats’ complaints about the lack of advance notification as well. She said that if Mrs. Pelosi had received an advance briefing that the House Speaker “might leave in a fit,” an allusion to previous White House meetings that ended abruptly.
“A lot of people just like to head straight to the cameras,” Mrs. Conway said Monday. “Could you imagine telling the chairman of the Intel Committee, one Adam Schiff, that this was going to happen? Could you imagine? The man goes to bed with his earpiece and microphone on. So what would’ve happened?”
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has reportedly not ruled out releasing key intelligence details amid the criticism for lawmakers.
“We may discuss that,” the president said Sunday on Air Force One.
The Trump administration has also faced criticism that the drone strike was motivated as a distraction from impeachment proceedings, which the government has disputed.
Asked on Fox News about whether America’s enemies view Mr.Trump as “more vulnerable” because of the politics of impeachment, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answered, “You should ask Mr. Soleimani.”
• Additional reporting contributed by Tom Howell Jr.