WATCH: Dem and GOP Reps Say Pompeo Told Them War with Iran Could Be Authorized Without Congress
Congress members from both parties said that Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told them, in a classified briefing, that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) could be used to take military action against Iran without the approval of Congress.
Early Thursday morning, the House Armed Services Committee debated the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, and in an exchange that was flagged by Benjamin Armbruster, two members of different parties disputed the claim that no one in the Trump administration had said that the 2001 AUMF could be used to attack Iran.
The committee was considering an amendment that would prohibit the use of force against Iran in the bill, and Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) insisted, of the notion that the AUMF could be used to attack Iran, that “There’s no one from the administration that said they would do that. This is outrageous steps to be taken for something that has never been said. It is not something that is in front of us to even debate.”
But Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) disputed Turner, telling him “I recall a briefing in the CVC [Capitol Visitor Center, where classified briefings are given] where information was shared that is not consistent with what you’re saying to us regarding the connections between the 2001 AUMF and Iran.”
“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,” Gaetz added.
A few minutes later, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) agreed with Gaetz, and identified Pompeo as the source of the claim.
“We were absolutely presented with a full formal presentation on how the 2001 AUMF might authorize war on Iran,” Slotkin said, adding “Secretary Pompeo said it with his own words.”
“He did not say I want to go to Iran and I’m going to use 2001,” Slotkin continued. “He referenced, I don’t want to go into the details, he referenced a relationship between Iran and al Qaeda and i will tell you, it goes to the heart of the…”
When another member tried to interrupt, Slotkin said “Let me finish. I’d like to be the one woman recognized in this conversation.”
“To me, once he opened that door,” Slotkin continued, and suggested narrower language that she said would “preserve the constitutional rights of this body to authorize military force.”
That revelation comes amid increasing tensions with Iran, including Pompeo’s claim Thursday that Iran was responsible for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and another claim from the U.S. earlier this week that Iran is violating the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA.
The amendment was later withdrawn after assurances that “there would be a vote on a similar proposal” when the NDAA reaches the full House.
Watch the clip above via C-SPAN.
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