Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul recently criticized the Trump administration in the wake of the airstrike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. While Lee blasted the briefing on the assassination, Paul turned his attention to Republican operatives and lawmakers who push the notion that anyone who doesn’t agree with the GOP isn’t a true patriot.
In a recent appearance on Fox Nation’s Liberty File with Judge Andrew Napolitano, Paul doubled down on such criticism and suggested that many of his colleagues do not respect the Constitution.
Paul acknowledged the Soleimani was likely involved in targeting Americans in the Middle East but expressed his belief that killing an Iranian major general was an “act of war.”
The 57-year-old politician then noted the debate over who has the power to declare war.
“Our Founding Fathers… were quite explicit that they wanted the power to be in Congress, not in the executive branch,” Paul said to host Andrew Napolitano.
Paul’s comment comes after the House passed a non-binding War Powers resolution that would force Trump to get congressional approval for any new military action against Iran, NPR reported. When Napolitano asked Paul if things would be different were the president a Democrat, Paul said he didn’t believe that would be the case.
“No,” he said.”Most of them don’t care about the Constitution. And so it’s not strictly partisan.”
“Most of my Republican colleagues are neoconservatives. Most of them also believe in this bizarre, unfounded theory. They call it the ‘unitary theory of the commander in chief’ and they say that he has unlimited Article II authority.”
Sen. @RandPaul on Iran briefing: "They have justified the killing of an Iranian general as being something that Congress gave them permission to do in 2002. That is absurd, that's an insult." pic.twitter.com/ReCWW2Nbm3— The Hill (@thehill) January 9, 2020
Although Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution denotes the president as commander in chief of the U.S. military, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress authorization to declare war.
Independent Justin Amash echoed Paul’s sentiments and suggested that the reason the Constitution grants Congress that power over a declaration of war is because it’s something that affects all Americans.
“But our system demands consent for war from the people, acting through their representatives and senators in Congress,” Amash tweeted last week.
Regardless, the pattern of using Article II powers to bring the country into armed conflict did not start with Donald Trump. As Paul noted, former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Harry S. Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson all “usurped war powers.” According to Paul, Congress is partly to blame because it “abdicated” its role in the process.