EXCLUSIVE: Trump: I do not need congressional approval to strike Iran

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE told Hill.TV in an exclusive interview Monday that he does not need congressional approval to strike Iran.

When asked if he believes he has the authority to initiate military action against Iran without first going to Congress, Trump said, "I do."

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"But we’ve been keeping Congress abreast of what we’re doing ... and I think it’s something they appreciate," he said in an exclusive interview outside the Oval Office. "I do like keeping them abreast, but I don’t have to do it legally."

"We were pretty close to maybe making a decision to strike. Then I decided not to do it. Nobody went out, by the way. I was going to make that decision by a certain time, and I decided not to do it because it wasn’t really proportional," Trump added.

The president disputed Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Trump: I don't have a racist bone in my body Ocasio-Cortez responds to fresh criticism from Trump MORE’s (D-Calif.) assertion that he would need congressional approval for any “hostilities” against Iran.

"I disagree," he said. "Most people seem to disagree."

"They have ideas. They’re intelligent people. They'll come up with some thoughts," Trump said, referring to lawmakers. "I actually learned a couple of things the other day when we had our meeting with Congress."

Pelosi made her statement Friday after Trump ordered and then reversed a decision to strike Iran following the downing of an unmanned and unarmed U.S. surveillance drone last week. She told reporters she was not notified by officials of the president's decision on Thursday to approve the military action when she and other congressional leaders went to the White House for a briefing that day.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Charities say they never received donations touted by Jeffrey Epstein: report Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence MORE (D-N.Y.) said Democrats told Trump during Thursday’s Situation Room briefing that he would need congressional authorization before a strike.

Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineAcosta defends Epstein deal, bucking calls for resignation Republican lawmakers on why they haven't read Mueller report: 'Tedious' and 'what's the point?' Schumer calls on Acosta to step down over Epstein MORE (D-Va.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHouse passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' | Republicans form conservation caucus | Pressure mounts against EPA's new FOIA rule Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-N.M.) have offered an amendment to a defense spending bill that would block Trump from using government funds to strike Iran without congressional approval. Schumer called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA —Biden unveils health care plan | Proposal pitches subsidies, public option | Biden vows if you like your health insurance, 'you can keep it' | Sanders protests planned Philadelphia hospital closure MORE (R-Ky.) to delay a vote on the bill until after this week's Democratic presidential primary debate so that senators seeking the party's nomination can be present to vote on the amendment.