At his first rally of the year, President Donald Trump said he didn’t notify Congress of the strike on Iranian general Qasem Soleimani because time was of the essence, and he was afraid it would leak to the press.
“These are split-second decisions,” Trump said, adding, “We got a call. We heard where he was. We knew the way he was getting there. And we had to make a decision. We didn’t have time to call up [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] — who is not operating with a full deck.”
Watch his comments below:
Trump also managed to get in a barb against House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff — using his preferred nickname “shifty-Schiff” — and accused the California congressman of leaking sensitive information to the press.
“Now Schiff is a big leaker, you know he leaks to crazy CNN,” Trump said, before sharing a fictional story of Schiff leaking the news to the media.
Trump has previously avoided notifying Congress of military action, such as the assault that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, because of concerns that it might leak to the press.
The strike on Soleimani has led lawmakers to criticize Trump for not notifying or consulting with Congress before authorizing a military action some have called an act of war, as IJR has previously reported.
Even some Republicans have criticized the decision to kill Soleimani. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said it was an act of war, and added that it was the result of bad advice and criticized the Trump administration’s Iran policy.
Members of the administration have defended the decision to kill a top general from a country the United States is not at war with by noting that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force — which Soleimani led — has been blamed for terrorist attacks across the Middle East.
Additionally, national security officials have said that Soleimani was plotting an imminent attack against Americans — though they have not shared much detail about what the potential targets were.
But after a briefing on the Iran situation given to lawmakers, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said he was persuaded to vote for Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-Va.) War Powers Resolution aimed at limiting Trump’s military authority regarding Iran.
The House on Thursday voted to pass a non-binding resolution directing Trump to end military actions against Iran without proper approval from Congress.