Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWe need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Florida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update MORE (D-Calif.) bitterly complained that President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report MORE left her and other congressional leaders out of the loop before taking out Iran’s top general in a surprise airstrike Thursday.

Trump and his allies seem just fine with that.

Distrust between Trump and Pelosi is at an all-time high. Just two weeks ago, Pelosi led House Democrats in a mostly party-line vote to make Trump just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. Now, Pelosi and Trump’s congressional allies are locked in a standoff over the shape of the Senate impeachment trial, preventing it from moving forward as Trump demands a speedy acquittal.

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Trump’s ordering of the airstrike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani — and his decision not to give a heads-up to Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Trump defends firing of intel watchdog, calling him a 'disgrace' Democrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House Democrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Schumer: Fired inspector general will be remembered as a 'hero' MORE (D-N.Y.) and others in the so-called Gang of Eight — has exacerbated the already fraught relationship between Trump and congressional Democrats, as well as the high tensions between the executive and legislative branches.

Democrats, having been left in the dark about a key military decision, warn that Trump’s actions will surely be met with retaliation from Tehran and could propel the U.S. into yet another war in the Middle East.

“The need for advance consultation and transparency with Congress was put in the Constitution for a reason, because the lack of advance consultation and transparency with Congress can lead to hasty and ill-considered decisions,” Schumer said Friday afternoon from the Senate floor. “When the security of the nation is at stake, decisions must not be made in a vacuum.”

Schumer confirmed that he did not get advance notice from the Trump administration about the airstrike. Neither did Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocratic senator rips Navy head's 'completely inappropriate' speech on ousted carrier captain Democrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who would traditionally be informed about significant military operations as part of the Gang of Eight that’s comprised of top bipartisan congressional and Intelligence Committee leaders in both chambers.

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFlorida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Schumer says nation will 'definitely' need new coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Ky.) had no comment on the lack of notification, while aides to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Pelosi, McConnell clash over next coronavirus bill Pelosi scales back coronavirus infrastructure proposal MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrCOVID-19 and the coming corruption pandemic Burr says intelligence watchdog should be 'independent' after inspector general firing 2020 on my mind: Democrats have to think like Mitch McConnell MORE (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesCalifornia governor responds to Nunes on canceling school: 'We'll continue to listen to the experts' Nunes claims it would be 'way overkill' to cancel school year in California due to coronavirus Trump steps up intensity in battle with media MORE (Calif.), the top House Intelligence Committee Republican, didn’t return requests for comment.

But McCarthy and McConnell expressed support for the airstrike, with the Senate GOP leader adding that a classified briefing for all senators is in the works for next week.

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Soleimani served as commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and was considered one of Iran’s most powerful military figures. Iranian leaders have vowed “revenge” and “harsh retaliation” against the U.S. for the attack.

“General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more...but got caught!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

Pelosi spoke with Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe courage of navy captain Brett Crozier Democratic lawmakers call for Navy chief's firing Acting Navy secretary slams fired aircraft carrier captain as 'stupid' in remarks to crew: report MORE on Thursday night to get more information after the airstrike. The Speaker said in a statement that the Trump administration conducted the strike without a formal authorization for use of military force against Iran or consultation with Congress.

“The full Congress must be immediately briefed on this serious situation and on the next steps under consideration by the Administration, including the significant escalation of the deployment of additional troops to the region,” Pelosi said.

At least one GOP lawmaker was told of the plan to target Soleimani. Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamUN biodiversity chief calls for international ban of 'wet markets' Graham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court MORE (R-S.C.) told “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning that he was briefed while in Florida earlier this week, where he was spotted on Monday golfing with Trump at the president’s resort.

“I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida,” Graham said Friday. “I appreciate being brought into the orbit. I really appreciate President Trump letting the world know you cannot kill an American without impunity.”

Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill defended his decision to forgo notifying congressional leaders. They said an all-member briefing on the Soleimani killing and overall tensions with Iran would likely come next week, when House lawmakers are slated to return to Washington.

“The action had to be taken in a decisive and covert manner. The president absolutely made the right call at the right time. The target was responsible for multiple deaths and was in the process of planning additional terrorist attacks on US interests,” Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Schumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Guidance on masks is coming MORE (R-N.C.) told The Hill on Friday.

“When strategic and tactical decisions are made in real time, congressional notification is often required to be after the fact,” the former Freedom Caucus chairman said.

This was not the first time Trump has kept top Democrats out of the loop before a major military action. His team declined to brief Democrats before the late October raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, citing concerns that the news would leak.

The Oct. 27 strike came as Democrats were deep into their inquiry of Trump’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents, which led to the House voting to impeach him the week before Christmas.

"We notified some; others are being notified now as I speak," Trump said at a press conference in October. "We were going to notify them last night, but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like nothing I've ever seen before. There’s no country in the world that leaks like we do. Washington is a leaking machine."

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Trump said that he did, however, notify the Russian government in advance that the U.S. was "going over an area where they had a lot of firepower" but didn’t detail the raid’s intent to kill al-Baghdadi.

The debate over when and whether the White House should properly notify Congress about sensitive military action predates Trump’s presidency. The Obama administration notified lawmakers, including then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerMeadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows set to resign from Congress as he moves to White House The Pelosi administration MORE (R-Ohio), about plans to launch airstrikes against ISIS militants in Iraq in 2014. But that came only a few months after the Obama administration declined to notify Congress about the exchange of five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for the release of American POW Bowe Bergdahl.

Democrats called on the Trump administration to at least provide Congress with its strategy in Iran, given the country’s pledge to retaliate against the U.S.

“The law requires notification so the President can’t plunge the United States into ill-considered wars. We must also hear without delay from senior officials about this action and their plans to deal with the aftermath,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Lawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference Democrats press Pompeo to help Americans stranded abroad amid coronavirus MORE (D-N.Y.).

Alexander Bolton contributed.