Independent Justin Amash has made it clear he believes Donald Trump‘s decision to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was a violation of the Constitution. During a Thursday appearance on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, the Michigan representative doubled down on his comments and said he believes Trump’s decision was an abuse of power.
“Every military action that is non-defensive has to have congressional authorization under our Constitution,” he said. “So, we have a 2001 authorization, for example, to go after the 9/11 perpetrators. We have a 2002 authorization to go after Saddam Hussein’s regime. But there’s no authorization that is pertinent to this particular circumstance.”
Amash noted that the president could only act defensively, noting that there must be “imminence.”
“If there’s no imminence, then it’s not authorized.”
The Trump administration claims that Soleimani was planning attacks on U.S. interests, although they have yet to provide evidence of such plans, and recent reports of other influencing factors continue to shed doubt on the claim.
In response to Trump’s decision, Amash — along with Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz, Thomas Massie, and Francis Rooney — voted early Thursday to pass a non-binding War Powers resolution that would require Trump to gain congressional approval for any further military action against Iran. In other signs of fracture within the GOP, Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee said they would vote to support the resolution in the Senate following the intelligence briefing on Soleimani’s killing, The Hill reported.
According to Amash, the Constitution provides Congress the power to authorize a declaration of war in Article I, Section 8, because it is something that impacts all United States citizens. Regardless, Amash admitted that many presidents before Trump have used Article II powers to bring America into armed conflict, echoing Paul’s recent claim that this pattern was created by many presidents, including Barack Obama, Harry S. Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Amash has been a vocal critic of the direction of the GOP under Trump, which ultimately led to his departure from the party back in July of 2019. He recently addressed congressman and Trump ally Gaetz’s support of the War Powers resolution, which has reportedly led to the White House shutting him out, Raw Story reports.
“Matt Gaetz hasn’t changed his position on war powers,” Amash tweeted. “He had the same position when President Obama was in office. It’s the constitutionally conservative position.”
“For that — for consistency — he faces the GOP’s wrath. Only Trump matters. Even the Trumpiest congressman gets no pass.”