Top Democrats ask Trump to declassify war powers notification

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are urging President Trump 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.”

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 Pelosi (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.

Tags Bob Menendez Charles Schumer Donald Trump Drone strike Nancy Pelosi Senate Foreign Relations Committee

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