Congressional Dems warn Trump against Iran escalation

April 3, 2020 - 17:48

TEHRAN — Eight members of the U.S. Congress have urged President Trump to consult Congress before taking any military action against Iran.

The Democratic members of Gang of 8, who received high-level briefings on intelligence matters, warned in a March 27 letter that the administration had legal obligations to keep congressional leadership informed of potential military escalation.

“While there are well-understood and narrow self-defense exceptions, the Constitution and U.S. law require you to consult with Congress before engaging in military action or actions likely to lead to war,” read the letter, which was obtained by CBS News.

The letter was signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner.

The lawmakers also cited the January strike on Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani, saying the Trump administration had “largely failed” to date to fulfill those legal obligations.

Following the attack which led to the death of General Soleimani, the Trump administration claimed the strike was carried out to forestall an attack on U.S. interests in the region.

The Gang of 8 Democrats said at the time that they were not briefed in advance of the strike.

Trump on Wednesday claimed the U.S. had received intelligence regarding an Iranian-backed “sneak attack” on American forces in Iraq.

“Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later responded to the threat, tweeting, “Don’t be misled by usual warmongers… Iran has FRIENDS: No one can have MILLIONS of ‘proxies’.”

“Unlike the US—which surreptitiously lies, cheats & assassinates—Iran only acts in self-defense. Openly,” he said. 

Zarif warned, “Iran starts no wars, but teaches lessons to those who do.”

On Tuesday, more than 30 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling for the suspension of sanctions against Iran amid the coronavirus outbreak which has affected the lives of millions of Iranians.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar led nearly three dozen lawmakers in urging the Trump Administration to ease sanctions against Iran.

The letter comes just two weeks after the Trump administration levied additional sanctions against Iran in the midst of the pandemic.

“Rather than continue to invoke new sanctions in the Iranian people’s hour of need, we urge you to substantially suspend sanctions on Iran during this global public health emergency in a humanitarian gesture to the Iranian people to better enable them to fight the virus,” the letter read, according to a press release by the official website of Sen. Sanders.

“Additionally, we encourage the U.S. to find a way to deliver aid directly to the Iranian people to support the Iranian people’s fight against coronavirus, as many other nations have done,” the members of Congress concluded.

“Iran is facing a catastrophic toll from the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. sanctions should not be contributing to this humanitarian disaster,” said Sanders. 

“As a caring nation, we must lift any sanctions hurting Iran’s ability to address this crisis, including financial sanctions. Every country on earth is going to be affected by the coronavirus. We are all in this together. If there was ever a moment to show each other unprecedented cooperation and support internationally, this is that moment.”

MH/PA

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