Questions That Congress Needs Answered on the Administration’s View of Its War Powers

Update: Read Protect Democracy Executive Director Ian Bassin’s op-ed in the Washington Post, “How Congress can stop Trump from starting World War III.”

On Monday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing chaired by Senator Corker, where secretaries Mattis and Tillerson will testify and discuss authorization of force against ISIS and Al Qaeda.  In light of the alarms Senator Corker has raised about the President’s state of mind, the possibility of World War III, and in light of the Administration’s refusal to acknowledge any need for authorization to begin new wars, Protect Democracy urges Chairman Corker and the Committee to press the witnesses on broader issues of war authorization, including the following key questions:

  1. Why was the President legally justified in launching military strikes against the Syrian regime on April 6, 2017, and why did the President fail to seek authorization from Congress prior to launching those strikes?
  2. In what circumstances does the Administration believe the President would need Congressional authorization to initiate a war or armed conflict against North Korea?  
  3. When does the Administration believe the President is required to seek Congressional authorization to use military force against a new adversary, including a sovereign foreign government?
  4. Will the Administration commit to disclosing the legal justification for using military force in Syria, North Korea, and any future adversaries to the public so the American people can express their views about the wisdom of going to war?

Protect Democracy has been seeking answers to these questions for months, first filing suit for the Administration’s legal justification for strikes against the Syrian regime in April, then this week filing suit to find out whether the President thinks he can unilaterally start a war with North Korea without Congressional authorization.