Trump and Pelosi clash over Iran, impeachment

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks MORE (D-Calif.) is flexing her muscles at the start of a critical election year by challenging President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district MORE on two explosive issues — impeachment and Iran — that are sure to exacerbate tensions between Congress and the White House.

Lawmakers in the House will vote this week to limit Trump’s military powers amid intensifying friction with Tehran, marking a new and unexpected front in Democratic efforts to rein in a president they impeached just weeks ago on charges of abusing his office over foreign policy in Ukraine.

The “War Powers Resolution” arrives as questions swirl over when Pelosi will deliver the impeachment articles to the Senate, a step she’s declined to take before Republican leaders outline the trial parameters. Pelosi charged over the weekend that absent a serious effort to gather and weigh new evidence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks MORE (R-Ky.) is merely an “accomplice” to Trump’s misconduct.


The dueling debates carry the highest stakes and have rekindled the on-again, off-again branch battle over the separation of powers at the heart of the Constitution — a theme Pelosi is making central to the discussions over both Iran and impeachment.

“As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe,” the Speaker wrote to fellow Democrats on Sunday, announcing the war powers vote. “For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.”

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinPaul Junge wins Michigan GOP primary to challenge Elissa Slotkin Overnight Defense: US formally rejects Beijing's South China Sea claims | House set to consider defense policy bill next week | 57 injured as firefighters battle warship blaze House Democrat warns about 'inaccurate' polls: Trump voters 'fundamentally undercounted' MORE (D-Mich.), comes in response to Trump’s decision last week to greenlight a drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Tehran’s top military commander. The legislation would prohibit U.S. military engagement with Iran after 30 days, unless Congress provides explicit approval.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineThree pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column Ex-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets MORE (D-Va.) has offered a similar measure in the Senate.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are also looking for other ways to push back, vowing to use other tools in the congressional toolbox.


On Monday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (D-Calif.), who led the three-month impeachment investigation into Trump, called for public hearings into how and why the Trump administration arrived at the decision to kill Soleimani. Other Democrats, including Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksDemocrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill Sherman joins race for House Foreign Affairs gavel MORE (N.Y.), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, want House panels to investigate the intelligence behind the drone strike.

White House hopefuls and Senate candidates are getting involved, too.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins Connecticut in final presidential primary of year Vermont Rep. Peter Welch easily wins primary Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris MORE (I-Vt.), a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaCalifornia Dems back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup Congress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe Sanders supporters launch six-figure ad campaign explaining why they're voting for Biden MORE (D-Calif.) are seeking to exercise Congress’s power of the purse, rolling out companion resolutions that would block Defense Department funding for further military action against Iran without congressional approval. The effort faces significant challenges given that Trump last month signed a bill funding the Pentagon through Sept. 30.

In a separate effort, Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedySens. Markey, Cruz clash over coronavirus relief: 'It's not a goddamn joke Ted' Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey The Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war MORE III (D-Mass.), who is seeking a Senate seat, called on Congress to repeal the use of military force authorizations that have governed the Pentagon’s fight against global terrorism for almost two decades. Like Pelosi, he’s leaning hard on the legal arguments outlined in the nation’s founding document.

“The U.S. Constitution explicitly grants only Congress the ability to declare war,” Kennedy wrote to Pelosi on Monday.


Democrats’ strategy should become clearer on Wednesday, when both the House and Senate will receive all-member briefings on the Iran situation from Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Esper confirms plans to drop below 5,000 troops in Afghanistan | State Department says it's cleared of wrongdoing in emergency arms sales before investigation's release 400 'hard-core' Taliban prisoners to be released ahead of Afghan peace talks Esper says officials still don't know source of Beirut blast MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoEngel: IG report shows Pompeo's 'sham' use of emergency declaration in arms sales Overnight Defense: Trump pushed to restore full National Guard funding | Watchdog faults Pompeo on civilian risk of Saudi arms sales Pelosi on 'disturbing situation' in Hong Kong: 'The world is watching' MORE, CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Top intelligence officials to brief Gang of Eight on Thursday MORE and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Both the impeachment and Iran debates have largely broken down along party lines, with Trump and his Republican allies pushing back hard on critics across the aisle. They’re framing impeachment as a political “witch hunt” designed to harm Trump’s reelection prospects, while defending the strike on Soleimani as a victory in the effort to quash America’s enemies.

“This is a strike against terror,” Rep. Brad WenstrupBrad Robert WenstrupLawmakers urge administration to remove tariffs on European wine and spirits amid coronavirus pandemic GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Sen. Coons says US needs to invest in vaccine manufacturing now; uncertainty looms over states reopening MORE (R-Ohio), a surgeon who served in the Iraq War, said Monday in an interview with Fox Business Network. “Just because the man wears a uniform, under the guise of a military uniform, does not mean he’s not a terrorist.”

Trump fought back as well, vowing in an all-caps tweet on Monday that Tehran “will never have a nuclear weapon!” He also amplified his attacks on the Democrats’ “impeachment hoax,” urging a quick end to the process in the Senate.

“Get this done. It is a con game by the Dems to help with the Election!” he tweeted.

Pelosi, though, has shown no signs of backing down. On Monday, her strategy appeared to bear fruit when John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Ex-Trump adviser, impeachment witness Fiona Hill gets book deal Hannity's first book in 10 years debuts at No. 1 on Amazon MORE, Trump’s former national security adviser who had refused to testify in the House impeachment investigation, reversed course to say he would provide testimony in the Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed.

The shift puts fresh pressure on McConnell to hear from new witnesses with insights into Trump’s dealings with Kyiv. A member of McConnell’s leadership team, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThree pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (R-Texas), said Monday he was open to having Bolton testify before the Senate in a closed-door setting.

“I have no objection to his testifying, either by deposition or some pre-recorded testimony. But to me it just represents an admission that what they’ve presented so far is pretty thin gruel,” Cornyn told reporters in the Capitol. “What the Senate ought to try to avoid is the circus-like atmosphere that we’ve seen characterize the House’s activity.”

Top Democrats argued that Bolton’s willingness to testify, coupled with the disclosure of a new tranche of emails linking Trump directly to the hold on Ukraine aid, represents a vindication for Pelosi’s go-slow strategy on shipping the articles to the Senate.

“Had we sent them over immediately, this opportunity would not have likely presented itself. McConnell would have immediately dispensed with the articles before we left for the holiday break,” said a senior House Democratic aide. “It’s additional proof that the strategy of sitting on them has worked and is working.”

Jordain Carney contributed.