Trump and Pelosi clash over Iran, impeachment

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) is flexing her muscles at the start of a critical election year by challenging President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group 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 McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.) is merely an “accomplice” to Trump’s misconduct.

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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 SlotkinMixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner 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 KaineIran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner House war powers sponsor expects to take up Senate version of resolution Sens. Kaine, Lee: 'We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress authorizes it' 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.

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On Monday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Schiff says Justice Roberts should rule on witnesses Schiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line 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 MeeksOcasio-Cortez defends decision not to pay dues to House Democratic campaign arm Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlash House Democrats urge financial regulators to defend against Iranian cyberattacks 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 SandersSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Human Rights Campaign president rips Sanders's embrace of Rogan endorsement MORE (I-Vt.), a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaWarren calls for Brazil to drop charges against Glenn Greenwald Sanders co-chair: Greenwald charges could cause 'chilling effect on journalism across the world' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules 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 KennedyAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia Lawmakers press Trump officials to change federal marijuana rules Trump and Pelosi clash over Iran, impeachment 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.

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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: Veterans group seeks Trump apology for comments on brain injuries | Pentagon says dozens of troops suffered traumatic injuries after attack | Trump unveils Space Force logo Commerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  Dozens of US troops suffered traumatic brain injuries after Iran missile strikes MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map Huawei endangers Western values The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge MORE, CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Senate Democrat says he is concerned intelligence community is 'bending' Soleimani presentations House chairman: Pompeo won't testify at Iran hearing Tuesday 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 WenstrupTrump and Pelosi clash over Iran, impeachment Congress should keep the ADA in mind when setting assisted suicide policy Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing 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 BoltonSenate Republicans must stand up for the rule of law and ensure a fair, open proceeding Democrats cap impeachment arguments with focus on Trump stonewalling Lindsey Graham will oppose subpoena of Hunter Biden 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 CornynNadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public 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.