Trump threatens 'great and overwhelming force' if Iran attacks 'anything American'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE on Tuesday responded to disparaging comments from the Iranian president by threatening Tehran with "great and overwhelming force" if it attacks "anything American."

Trump, in a series of fiery tweets, shot back after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the White House "mentally retarded" in the wake of fresh sanctions targeting the supreme leader.

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"Iran leadership doesn't understand the words 'nice' or 'compassion,' they never have," Trump tweeted. "Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power, and the USA is by far the most powerful Military Force in the world, with 1.5 Trillion Dollars invested over the last two years alone."

"Iran's very ignorant and insulting statement, put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality," Trump added. "Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John KerryJohn Forbes KerryDemocratic debates are magnet for lobbyists The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Bring on the brokered convention MORE & Obama!"

Trump on Monday told The Hill in an exclusive interview that he does not need congressional approval to strike Iran.

The comments differ from some congressional leaders, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (D-Calif.), who have said the president must seek permission from Congress before carrying out a strike.

Trump signed an executive order on Monday enacting new sanctions against Iran's supreme leader and other high-ranking officials in an effort to further cripple the country's economy.

Rouhani said the sanctions were "idiotic" and closed the doors on the chances of a diplomatic solution.

The move came days after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone. The two sides have disputed whether the drone was over Iranian airspace at the time.

Trump said Friday that the U.S. was prepared to carry out a retaliatory strike, but that he called it off after learning at the last minute of the expected Iranian casualties.

The president has in recent weeks adopted alternating rhetoric toward Iran, at times threatening an aggressive military response if provoked and at other times expressing a desire to negotiate with Tehran. 

"I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us, a lot of restraint, and that doesn’t mean we’re going to show it in the future,” the president said Monday.