President Donald Trump on Sunday used his personal Twitter account to notify Congress of his plans to retaliate “perhaps in a disproportionate manner” if Iran retaliates against any American person or asset.
“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner,” Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon. “Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”
The president appeared to be mocking the War Powers Act of 1973, a federal law that checks the president’s power and that Democratic lawmakers have called for him to abide by after the unprecedented assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a high-ranking Iranian military official.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee sarcastically responded to the tweet, saying, “This Media Post will serve as a reminder that war powers reside in the Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Powers Act. And that you’re not a dictator.”
The president rapidly escalated tensions with Iran after authorizing the airstrike that killed Soleimani, who had led Iran’s elite Quds Force within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, organizing Tehran’s proxy armed forces across the Middle East and training Shiite militias in Iraq. He was widely considered a violent leader and a powerful influence in the region.
Soleimani’s assassination marks a colossal shift in Washington’s relationship with Iran and was an act of aggression that could destabilize the Middle East. And while many experts and lawmakers saw the assassination as an act of war, Trump didn’t bother notifying most members of Congress before carrying it out.
After Democrats slammed the Trump administration for its lack of transparency, the White House delivered a formal notification of the drone strike to Congress on Saturday. The War Powers Act of 1973 requires that the president report to Congress within 48 hours of introducing military forces into armed conflict abroad. Those reports usually include details on the administration’s reasoning for intervention, as well as its constitutional and legislative justification to send troops overseas. Trump’s report was entirely classified.
“This classified War Powers Act notification delivered to Congress raises more questions than it does answers,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “This document prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran. The highly unusual decision to classify this document … suggests that the Congress and the American people are being left in the dark about our national security.”
Trump’s tweet Sunday came shortly after Iran said it would no longer abide by any of the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with major world powers, ending an agreement created in order to block Tehran from having enough material to make an atomic weapon.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians walked alongside a casket carrying Soleimani’s remains on Sunday, and Iraq’s parliament voted to oust foreign troops — a decision directed at the U.S. — in response to the assassination.
On Saturday, Trump used Twitter to again threaten violence against Iran, saying he will attack 52 unnamed Iranian sites (some of which he claimed are of cultural importance) if the Iranian government retaliates over Soleimani’s death. Many responded to the threat on Twitter by reminding the president that attacking cultural sites and places of worship is a war crime, according to rules established by the Geneva Convention.
People called on Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to do something about the president’s tweet, saying they’re concerned about the company allowing Trump to threaten war with Iran through its platform.