Trump and Pelosi clash over Iran, impeachment

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump says he'll sign USPS funding if Democrats make concessions Pelosi calls Trump attacks on mail-in voting a 'domestic assault on our Constitution' MORE (D-Calif.) is flexing her muscles at the start of a critical election year by challenging President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days 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 McConnellMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election GOP senator draws fire from all sides on Biden, Obama-era probes Chris Wallace rips both parties for coronavirus package impasse: 'Pox on both their houses' 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 KaineThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump goes birther again; no deal on COVID-19 package Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance 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 SchiffNewsom says he has already received a number of pitches for Harris's open Senate seat Here's who could fill Kamala Harris's Senate seat if she becomes VP Democrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling 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 SandersFormer Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate Trump to counter DNC with travel to swing states Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins MORE (I-Vt.), a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaKhanna says he'll vote against Democratic Party platform California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup Congress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe 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 KennedyMartin Luther King III endorses Kennedy in Senate primary Markey riffs on JFK quote in new ad touting progressive bona fides Democrats struggle to harness enthusiasm of Gen Z voters 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 EsperOne hundred days later, Esper still must explain landmine policy reversal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance Overnight Defense: Trump reportedly considering replacing Esper after election | FBI, Air Force investigating after helicopter shot at in Virginia | Watchdog says UK envoy made inappropriate comments on religion, race, sex MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUN Security Council rejects US bid to extend Iran arms embargo Overnight Defense: US seizes Iranian fuel bound for Venezuela | Progressives cool on Biden's foreign policy | Takeaways from Israel, UAE opening diplomatic ties Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire 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 CornynEnough legal games — we need to unleash American energy Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement 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.