President Donald Trump claimed on Sunday that his tweets now count as official notification to Congress about the US military’s plans to attack Iran.
There is no basis for Trump’s claim, because tweets do not constitute official congressional notification.
The debate over executive authority vs. legislative power in wartime reignited on Friday after the Trump administration announced the president had ordered an airstrike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful military figure.
Since then, Trump has thrown gasoline on the fire by threatening to attack Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliates — a move that could constitute a war crime.
Iran on Sunday responded by officially withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which substantially raises the possibility that the rogue regime will acquire a nuclear weapon.
President Donald Trump claimed on Sunday that his tweets now count as official notification to Congress about any US military plans to attack Iran.
“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner,” the president tweeted. “Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”
Tweets do not constitute official notifications.
And while the president is not legally mandated to consult with Congress when a military action is deemed an emergency, only Congress has the constitutional authority to declare war. Previous presidents have also almost always consulted with a tight group of congressional leaders known as the Gang of 8 on issues of national security.
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The debate over executive authority vs. legislative power in wartime reignited on Friday after the Trump administration announced, after the fact, that the president had ordered an airstrike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful military figure and the second most powerful person in the Iranian government and political establishment.
Soleimani was a revered figure in the rogue regime, and Trump was accused of committing an “act of war” against Iran by ordering his assassination, which raised immediate questions about how — and to what extent — Iran would retaliate.
It also drew swift backlash from congressional Democrats, who said they weren’t consulted or notified ahead of time about the drone strike.
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia announced shortly after that Congress should vote on a War Powers Resolution, which would require Trump to get Congressional authorization before taking addition military action against Iran. His announcement was endorsed by several other congressional Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
Trump, for his part, said he carried out the strike in order to “stop a war,” not start one. But his actions seem to be at odds with his rhetoric, since veteran national-security and foreign-policy experts said the president’s move was perhaps the most serious escalation in an already tense relationship between Iran and the US in years.
Trump threw gasoline on the fire on Saturday when he tweeted that “if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have … targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
Deliberately targeting cultural sites or cultural heritage sites could constitute a war crime.
Because of Trump’s inflammatory comments and Soleimani’s death, Iran vowed revenge and could respond in any number of ways, including by attacking oil fields, launching a cyberwar, kidnapping and executing Americans in the Middle East, and even working toward acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Indeed, Iran announced on Sunday that it is officially withdrawing from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration, had been crumbling ever since Trump withdrew the US from it in May 2018. Trump’s decision to pull the US from the nuclear deal is widely viewed as the catalyst for a series of escalatory events that raised fears of a potential war.
Iran complied with the JCPOA for roughly a year after Trump pulled the US from it, but began withdrawing from the agreement as Trump carried out a “maximum pressure campaign” that included throttling Iran with harsh economic sanctions.
John Haltiwanger contributed to this report.