Independent Rep. Justin Amash on Thursday said he believes President Donald Trump abused his power by ordering the drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
“Based on the information I have from the classified briefing I attended, I do think so,” Amash told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” when asked if the strike was an abuse of power.
“Every military action that is non-defensive has to have congressional authorization under our Constitution. So, we have a 2001 authorization, for example, to go after the 9/11 perpetrators. We have a 2002 authorization to go after Saddam Hussein’s regime. But there’s no authorization that is pertinent to this particular circumstance.”
He added, “So, the only way the President can act is defensively. So, there has to be imminence. If there’s no imminence, then it’s not authorized.”
Amash’s comments join a chorus of largely Democratic lawmakers who have questioned if an appropriate legal basis was established for the presidential authorization of lethal force. Those concerns were amplified in recent days after Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases that hold US troops in an act of retaliation earlier this week. There were no casualties in that attack, which was retaliation for the strike that killed Soleimani.
Earlier Thursday, Amash — along with three Republicans — voted with the Democratic majority to approve a resolution aimed at restraining the President’s ability to use military action against Iran without congressional approval. Democrats say the resolution is legally binding, but Republicans say has no teeth without Trump’s signature.
The House resolution states that “when the United States military force, the American people and members of the United States Armed Forces deserve a credible explanation regarding such use of military force.”
It also states that “Congress has not authorized the President to use military force against Iran.”
Amash announced in July that he was leaving the GOP after months of escalating criticism of Trump and his conduct as detailed in in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 election and its aftermath.
“Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party,” Amash wrote in a Washington Post op-ed at the time. “No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.”