Top Democrats ask Trump to declassify war powers notification

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump administration installs plaque marking finish of 100 miles of border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDem senators say Iran threat to embassies not mentioned in intelligence briefing Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike MORE (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE to immediately declassify the war powers notification he submitted to Congress following the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani.

In a letter on Sunday, the senators asked the president to “immediately declassify in full the January 4, 2020 war powers notification you submitted to Congress following the U.S. military operation targeting Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani.” 

“It is critical that national security matters of such import be shared with the American people in a timely manner,” the Democrats added. “An entirely classified notification is simply not appropriate in a democratic society, and there appears to be no legitimate justification for classifying this notification.”

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Soleimani was killed late last week in a drone strike that was directed by Trump. The president has said the operation was launched in an effort "to stop a war," and U.S. officials have said there was evidence that Soleimani was plotting attacks against Americans. 

The White House submitted a formal notification of the strike to Congress on Saturday under the 1973 War Powers Act, which requires the president to notify the legislative body of circumstances that call for the introduction of U.S. armed forces within 48 hours.

Following the notification on Saturday, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Pelosi offers message to Trump on Bill Maher show: 'You are impeached forever' MORE (D-Calif.) issued a statement saying the notification “raises more questions than it answers.”

She also said it “prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran.”

“The highly unusual decision to classify this document in its entirety compounds our many concerns, and suggests that the Congress and the American people are being left in the dark about our national security,” she added.

She further criticized the Trump administration’s military engagement as “provocative, escalatory and disproportionate” and reiterated her call for “an immediate, comprehensive briefing of the full Congress on military engagement related to Iran and next steps under consideration.”

“The Administration must work with the Congress to advance a bonafide de-escalatory strategy that prevents further violence,” she said.