Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine have written a letter to President Donald Trump demanding he provide legal justification for the tomahawk strikes on Syria.
Schiff and Kaine stated in their letter sent Monday that the Trump administration has waited two weeks to provide legal justification for the April 6 strike against Syrian military airbase al-Shayrat. The strike came following reports from American intelligence that Assad used sarin on his own people.
A detailed justification is sorely needed, and the notification to Congress that the strike was ordered is insufficient, according to Schiff and Kaine.
“These assertions of authority do not provide Congress with the information it needs to exercise our constitutional responsibilities,” the two wrote. “Nor do they provide comfort to a public that fears deeper involvement in a horrific civil war at a time when the U.S. troop presence in the region is already increasing. The legal justification for an attack on the Syrian government is not an afterthought, but rather a first order consideration, and something that is vital for the American people to understand at the outset.”
The administration has relied on the argument that Article II of the Constitution grants the president the authority to conduct the strike, but CNN analyst and law professor Steve Vladeck said the day after the strike that the Article II “argument is a stretch.”
Schiff and Kaine want the administration to issue an extensive legal analysis backing the strike and also to instruct senior officials to articulate this legal analysis on a regular basis.
Immediately after news of the strike first broke, Kaine tweeted out that the action was “unconstitutional.”
Schiff also blasted Trump for approving the strike without seeking congressional approval, adding that he didn’t think former President Barack Obama should have sent troops back to Iraq or Syria without seeking approval.
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