Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul accused former President Barack Obama of launching many military strikes without congressional approval following President Trump’s ordered killing of a top Iranian general last week.
“Well, you know this is not a new trend,” Paul said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, continuing, “President Obama did hundreds and hundreds of targeted killings without asking for permission. So I think presidents of both parties have been trying to usurp the authority.”
Paul did not cite any examples of Obama launching military action without congressional approval, but the Obama administration did order over 500 drone strikes during his presidency.
Earlier this month, Trump ordered the killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who he said was planning to blow up multiple U.S. embassies in the Middle East. Soleimani has been designated a terrorist by the last three presidential administrations.
Democrats were outraged that Trump did not notify lawmakers before taking out Soleimani. Only Congress has the constitutional authority to declare war, though the president is not legally required to notify Congress before taking executive military action if an imminent threat could harm Americans.
Instead, the Pentagon sent intelligence and military officials to Capitol Hill last week to explain the “imminent” threat Soleimani posed to American lives in the region and justify the attack. The briefing left many lawmakers, including Paul, unsatisfied.
“Our Founding Fathers wanted it to remain in Congress and make it difficult to go to war,” Paul said. “I think we’ve been drifting away from that for a long time.”
Trump has claimed there was no time to notify Congress of the intelligence that led to Soleimani’s death but said his tweets should serve as notice of potential further action.
“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!” he tweeted last week.