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EXCLUSIVE: Trump: I do not need congressional approval to strike Iran

The Hill logo The Hill 6/25/2019 Saagar Enjeti and Jordan Fabian

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President Trump believes he does not need congressional approval to strike Iran, he told Hill.TV during an exclusive interview outside the Oval Office.

"I do," Trump said when asked directly if he believes he has the authority to attack Iran without first going to Congress. "I do believe that ... but we've been keeping Congress abreast of what we're doing Saagar and I think it's something they appreciate. We had a lot of folks over the other day ... Told them what was happening, what was going on."

Trump continued, "We were pretty close to maybe making a decision to strike then I decided not to do it. Nobody went out by the way, I was going to make that decision by a certain time and I decided not to do it because it wasn't really proportional. I like the Idea of keeping Congress abreast but I wouldn't have to do that."

a man wearing a suit and tie standing next to a woman: EXCLUSIVE: Trump: I do not need congressional approval to strike Iran © Greg Nash EXCLUSIVE: Trump: I do not need congressional approval to strike Iran Trump said he disagrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's declaration that he would need congressional approval for any "hostilities" against Iran.

"I disagree, most people seem to disagree but I do like keeping them...they have ideas, they're intelligent people, they come up with some thoughts. I actually learned a couple of things the other day when we had our meeting with Congress which I think helpful to me. I do like keeping them abreast but I don't have to do it legally."

Pelosi made the statement on Friday after Trump ordered, then reversed a decision to strike Iran following the downing of an unmanned U.S. aircraft last week. She told reporters she was not notified by officials of the president's decision on Thursday to approve the military action when she and other congressional leaders went to the White House for a briefing that day.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said Democrats told Trump during that situation room briefing he would need congressional authorization before a strike.

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) have introduced an amendment to a defense spending bill that would block Trump from using funds to strike Iran without congressional approval. Schumer called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to delay a vote on the bill until after the Democratic presidential primary debates this week so Democratic senators can be present to vote on the amendment.

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