Lawmakers from both sides reveal in late-night session that Mike Pompeo told them Trump CAN attack Iran –because Congress never withdrew their post-9/11 military go-ahead allowed Bush to bomb Iraq
- A Democrat and a Republican said in the wee hours of Thursday morning that Mike Pompeo told them the White House already has the authority to attack Iran
- Lawmakers are concerned Trump will lean on a 2001 authorization Congress passed after 9/11 so George W. Bush could bomb Iraq
- That authorization was never rescinded
- Trump has shown no public appetite for a war against Iran but the Islamist nation has been attacking oil tankers in the Persian Gulf
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told members of Congress that the Trump administration has the legal and constitutional authority to attack Iran if it threatens America’s interests or allies, according to a Democratic lawmaker.
Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a former acting assistant secretary of defense during the last two years of the Obama administration, made the stunning revelation just before 3 o’clock in the morning as House Armed Services Committee members jousted over a Pentagon funding bill.
Democrats on the committee want to insert a line in the bill that explicitly forbids using the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force — which Congress approved so President George W. Bush could attack Iraq — as justification for doing the same thing to Iran.
Slotkin and Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a conservative Trump ally, said an administration official told them they could lean on that resolution, which Congress never rescinded, to keep Tehran in line.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress President Donald Trump has the authority to attack Iran
Lawmakers are concerned that Trump will use this authority to attack Iran as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran
‘We were absolutely presented with a full formal presentation on how the 2001 AUMF might authorize war on Iran,’ Slotkin declared.
‘Secretary Pompeo said it with his own words,’ she insisted as senior Republicans objected.
‘He did not say “I want to go to Iran and I’m going to use 2001”,’ she cautioned. ‘He referenced – I don’t want to go into the details – he referenced a relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda.’
Slotkin later characterized Pompeo’s presentation as an effort to get congressional buy-in for what the State Department already believes is the case.
‘Once he opened that door he asked for an answer,’ she said.
Still, members from both parties dithered on whether to insert the language forbidding an attack on Iran based on a 28-year-old green light targeting a different country.
‘If it’s a messaging thing that people are concerned about,’ Slotkin said, ‘maybe they can vote for nothing.’
But she argued that a one-sentence brush-back pitch to the White House ‘seems the minimalist way that we can still preserve the constitutional rights of this body to authorize military force.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on May 16 that she didn’t believe President Trump had his eye on attacking Iran by leaning on the old AUMF, even as Iran grew more belligerent and started attacking oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.
‘I like what I hear from the president, that he has no appetite on this,’ she said then.
‘I hope the president’s advisers recognize that they have no authorization to go forward in any way,’ Pelosi added, warning that Congress might act to counter the White House.
Gaetz backed up Slotkin but didn’t say when the Pompeo briefing occurred.
‘I recall a briefing in the CVC [Capitol Visitors Center] where information was shared that is not consistent with what you’re saying to us regarding the connections between the 2001 and Iran,’ he told Democrats.
‘I know we can’t get too precisely into that and who said it. But the notion that the administration has never maintained that there are elements of the 2001 AUMF that would authorize their hostilities toward Iran is not consistent with my understanding of what they said to us.’
Democrats want to insert a line in the bill that forbids using the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force
Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner, an Armed Services Committee veteran and eight-term lawmaker, cautioned Gaetz that he hear the same briefing and interpreted it differently.
‘I can assure you that no one stood in front of you and said that the 2001 AUMF, on behalf of this administration, provided them sufficient authority to go into Iran,’ he said.
A State Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. is pursuing what it calls a ‘maximum pressure campaign’ of sanctions against Iran to reduce its revenue streams from oil and other economic activities, in an attempt to curb what it sees as Tehran’s disruptive policies in the region.