Jeh Johnson, the onetime Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, debunked Democrats' claims that President Donald Trump needed congressional approval before authorizing the airstrike that killed top Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
"If you believe everything that our government is saying about General Soleimani, he was a lawful military objective, and the president, under his constitutional authority as commander in chief, had ample domestic legal authority to take him out without an additional congressional authorization," Johnson explained Sunday on "Meet the Press."
"Whether he was a terrorist or a general in a military force that was engaged in armed attacks against our people, he was a lawful military objective," he continued.
This morning, Obama DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson debunked Democrats' claim that Congress needed to approve Soleimani s… https://t.co/vMNvNC0tHA— Zach Parkinson (@Zach Parkinson)1578244386.0
Almost immediately after the Soleimani strike last week, congressional Democrats, such as Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) for example, complained that Trump did not first seek congressional approval before ordering the strike.
Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question. The question is this - as reports suggest, did… https://t.co/C1qzFdajKj— Chris Murphy (@Chris Murphy)1578016195.0
However, as Johnson suggested, the U.S. government, including Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have said Soleimani, as Iran's chief terrorism architect, was planning "imminent" attacks on U.S. interests in the Middle East.
After Soleimani's death, the Defense Department released a statement saying the strike "was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans."
The statement said:
General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more. He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.
For his part, Trump published a tweet declaring it his notice to Congress that if Iran retaliates for the Soleimani strike, he will authorize a powerful response by the U.S. military.
These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person… https://t.co/5WPMatAVzL— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1578255932.0