Sen. Mike Lee: Defense Secretary Should Agree to Support War Powers Resolution

Melanie Arter | January 13, 2020 | 10:28am EST
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(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

( – If Defense Secretary Mark Esper does not think that further military action against Iran would be covered by the 2001-2002 authorization for use of military force (AUMF), the secretary should agree to support the war powers resolution, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Topper” on Sunday.

“So, you just heard Secretary Esper say that he does not think further military action specifically against Iran would be covered by the 2001-2002 AUMF, authorization for use of military force. Do you think President Trump has the authority to conduct another strike against Iran without congressional approval?” Tapper asked.

“Well, I agree with Secretary Esper. Insofar as he was saying that, I think he's absolutely right,” the senator said. 

“And if he agrees with that, which it sounds like he does, then he should agree to support the war powers resolution that Senator Kaine has agreed to introduce, with amendments that I have suggested, that acknowledges that neither the '01 nor the '02 AUMF can be read to support further military action against Iran, and that, in the absence of an AUMF or declaration of war by Congress, or in the absence of an actual or imminent attack, and there's no justification for further military action,” Lee said.

“So, listen, you and I agree Soleimani had the blood of innocents on his hands and was a bad person. The question is whether or not the intelligence behind his attack was what it is being presented as. And do you have any concerns?” Tapper asked.

“I mean, we have heard mixed messages and conflicting stories about the reason for the attack, whether it's the existential threat that Soleimani posed, vs. imminent attacks, vs. an attack on one embassy, vs. an attack on four embassies,” the host said.

“You and I have sat through this movie before - conflicting, changing information, intelligence juiced in order to justify certain actions. How worried are you about the integrity of the information we're being told?” Tapper asked.

“Well, I'm worried. And as a United States senator and as a voter and citizen, I have learned not to simply take the federal government's word at face value. I mean, look, we were lied to about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We were lied to for a couple of decades about what was happening in Afghanistan. We have been lied to about a lot of things,” Lee said.

“It's not to say that the government is always lying or that the people who run it are inherently evil. It's just that they're human, and these things do happen, and so that's important to ask these questions, to make sure that we know the details,” the senator said.

“And insofar as we're dealing with the inherent tension between the Article 2 commander in chief power enjoyed by the president and the Article 1, Section 8, declaration of war power on the other hand controlled by Congress, members of Congress do need to be apprised of the information underlying a particular decision,” he added.


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