Trump: I Don’t Need Congressional Approval to Attack Iran

Says he likes to tell them about wars, but wouldn't have to

In an interview Monday, President Trump told Hill.TV that if he was going to start a war against Iran, he doesn’t need Congressional approval, nor does he even have to inform Congress about the attack.

“I do like keeping them abreast,  but I don’t have to do it legally,” Trump insisted. Trump says Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told him he needed Congressional approval, and “I disagree.”

The US Constitution empowers only Congress to declare war, and the War Powers Act also mandates that Congress offer an authorization for the use of military force. No such authorization exists for Iran, something Congressional officials have repeatedly pointed out.

While the law is fairly straightforward on the matter, in practice the US has found itself in a number of recent wars Congress never authorized, and is in one in Yemen right now. Trump is continuing arguments that both Presidents Obama and Bush made that as president he has considerable unilateral power to wage war.

And again, even though the law doesn’t support this position, Congress has proven largely unwilling to check presidential war-making, suggesting that in practice Trump very well might be able to attack Iran with no Congressional fallout.

Since talk of an imminent war with Iran has been ongoing for months,  both Houses of Congress are discussing putting specific language in the new military spending bill preemptively defunding any military actions against Iran that Congress didn’t authorize.

That could be a way to stop a unilateral attack, though recently Trump has vetoed any bills that he perceives as threatening his power for such attacks. So far it isn’t clear if enough people in Congress are willing to override such a veto.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.