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Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Businesses, wealthy brace for Biden tax hikes | Dow falls more than 650 points as COVID-19 cases rise, stimulus hopes fade | Kudlow doesn't expect Trump to release detailed economic plan before election Overnight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Gaffes put spotlight on Meadows at tough time for Trump MORE (D-Calif.) bitterly complained that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote 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 SchiffIn our 'Bizarro World' of 2020 politics, the left takes a wrong turn Greenwald slams Schiff over Biden emails on Fox Hillicon Valley: DOJ accuses Russian hackers of targeting 2018 Olympics, French elections | Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats | House Democrats slam FCC over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGraham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  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 WarnerSenate Intel leadership urges American vigilance amid foreign election interference Intel officials say Iran, Russia seeking to influence election Senate Intel leaders warn of election systems threats 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 McConnellMcConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg MORE (R-Ky.) had no comment on the lack of notification, while aides to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyRocky Mountain National Park closed due to expanding Colorado wildfire Trump is out of touch with Republican voters on climate change The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Iran, Russia election bombshell; final Prez debate tonight MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrAs Trump downplayed the virus publicly, memo based on private briefings sparked stock sell-offs: NYT Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs MORE (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump pushing to declassify document disputing intel findings on Russia: report Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 Democrat Arballo gains on Nunes: internal poll MORE (Calif.), the top House Intelligence Committee Republican, didn’t return requests for comment.

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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.

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 EsperOvernight Defense: US, India to share satellite data | Allegations of racism at Virginia Military Institute | Navy IDs 2 killed in Alabama plane crash US, India to share sensitive satellite data Trump has list of top intelligence officials he'll fire if he wins reelection: 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.

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At least one GOP lawmaker was told of the plan to target Soleimani. Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Murkowski predicts Barrett won't overturn Roe v. Wade Biden seeks to close any path for Trump win in race's final days 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 MeadowsOvernight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Hillicon Valley: Hospitals brace for more cyberattacks as coronavirus cases rise | Food service groups offer local alternatives to major delivery apps | Facebook says it helped 4.4M people register to vote Trump is cruising for a bruising 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."

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 BoehnerBottom line Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats 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.

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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 EngelOffice of Special Counsel widens Pompeo probe into Hatch Act violations  Overnight Defense: Trump, Biden set to meet in final debate | Explicit Fort Bragg tweets were sent by account administrator | China threatens retaliation over Taiwan arms sale Is Trump a better choice for Jewish voters than Biden? MORE (D-N.Y.).

Alexander Bolton contributed.