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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts 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 PelosiBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser 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 SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Trump supporters could hand Senate control to Democrats 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 KaineOvernight Defense: Lawmakers release compromise defense bill in defiance of Trump veto threat | Senate voting next week on blocking UAE arms sale | Report faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' in military plane crashes Senate to vote next week on blocking Trump's UAE arms sale Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint MORE (D-Va.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham Progressives urge Haaland for Interior as short list grows Senate committee approves nominations of three FEC commissioners 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 McConnellBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser 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.