NY Times's Haberman: Trump 'surprised' Iranian strike wasn't 'more of a unifying event'

New York Times White House correspondent Maggie HabermanMaggie Lindsy HabermanMaggie Haberman to pen book about Trump's life and legacy Pence to spend time in Florida as Trump refuses to concede The Hill's 12:30 Report: How to read the battleground votes trickling in MORE said Friday morning that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE "actually was surprised" his decision to take out Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani wasn't "a unifying event for the country.” 

Appearing on CNN, Haberman was asked by anchor John Berman if Trump was surprised that the House voted Thursday to limit his ability to go to war with Iran.

“He actually was surprised this was not more of a unifying event for the country, which is what he expected it was going to be," Haberman responded. "Something more along the lines of what you saw around the Iraq War lead-up." 


"However, that lead-up came after a massive attack on U.S. soil," she continued. "It’s not remotely the same. It’s not as if Gen. Soleimani’s name rolls off of most voters’ tongues very easily." 

"Look, he’s not separating this from impeachment politics. This has roiled impeachment politics. He recognizes this is all related," Haberman added. "I think that he’s aware there’s questions about how legally binding this is, even if it goes to the Senate and it passes. But he does not want it highlighted that he is taking an act that could be seen as continuing these forever wars." 

Haberman underscored a speech by Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzFlorida passes 850k coronavirus cases Florida GOP Rep. Mike Waltz tests positive for COVID-19 Gaetz says he has coronavirus antibodies MORE (R-Fla.), usually a staunch Trump supporter, that explained his decision to join House Democrats on the resolution restricting the president's war powers. 

"That speech from Matt Gaetz, the Republican who supports the president, on the floor yesterday was very, very important," Haberman said. "This is a president who ran against the Iraq War, ran as somebody who was going to get us out of the Middle East, who opposed George W. Bush’s use of intelligence [to justify a war]. And those are some of the same questions being raised about his administration right now.”

“Interesting. So that speech hit him where it hurts," Berman concluded. 

The resolution passed in a 224-194 vote Thursday evening, with only three Republicans supporting it: Gaetz and Reps. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieCheney seeks to cool tensions with House conservatives House in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power Ron Paul hospitalized in Texas MORE (Ky.) and Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyTime to concede: The peaceful transition of power is an American tradition House GOP lawmaker: Biden should be recognized as president-elect Most Republicans avoid challenging Trump on election MORE (Fla.). Eight Democrats voted against it.