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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth 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 KerryLet's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy The Memo: Democrats struggle to find the strongest swing-state candidate 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster 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 PelosiPence says it's 'vital' for Congress to pass US-Mexico-Canada trade deal The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump heads to California Obama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' 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.