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Trump’s Iran moves trigger warnings, demands from Congress

Trump’s Iran moves trigger warnings, demands from Congress

2019/05/16 | 02:25

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- Sudden White House moves in the Mideast sparked alarm in

Congress on Wednesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned President Donald

Trump away from war with Iran and lawmakers in both parties demanded more

information on his thinking.The top leaders in Congress — the so-called Gang of Eight—

are to receive a classified briefing from the administration on Thursday. But

Pelosi said the White House has resisted a wider presentation for all

lawmakers, part of what Democrats say is a pattern of stonewalling. Some

Republicans, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, sought out their own briefings as

the administration called US personnel home from Iraq and sent military might

to the Arabian Gulf, claiming unspecified threats linked to Iran.Pelosi said Trump has “no business” moving toward a Middle

East confrontation without approval from Congress.“We have to avoid any war with Iran,” she told fellow

Democrats in a private meeting, according to a person in the room who was

granted anonymity to discuss it.On Wednesday, the US ordered all non-essential personnel to

leave Iraq, and last week an aircraft carrier group and other resources were

shifted to the Arabian Gulf region. In public and in private, officials are

sticking by the administration’s warnings of serious threats from

Iranian-backed forces in the region, yet they reject the idea that the US moves

are a prelude to war. Trump himself denied a report Tuesday that the

administration had reviewed a plan to send 120,000 troops.Still, the actions are exposing skepticism in the US and

among foreign allies, a legacy of the 2003 invasion of Iraq that was based on

false intelligence. US officials have not publicly provided any evidence to

back up claims of an increased Iranian threat.“Congress has not authorized war with Iran, and the

administration, if it were contemplating military action with Iran, must come

to Congress to seek approval,” said Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, top

Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said he had never seen

anything like the “non-answers” coming from the administration.Republicans who have been briefed said the threats are real.The chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, Jim Risch of

Idaho, said that based on the information he received he supports the

administration actions, including the repositioning of the USS Abraham Lincoln

aircraft carrier to the Gulf.And Republican Marco Rubio of Florida said the information

he’s seen shows “by far the single most imminent potential conflict of this

significance” in his eight years in Congress. He said, “The intelligence is

unmistakable and clear and it’s backed by observable movement on the ground.”Still, Romney expressed support for the Senate Democrats’

request for more information in a classified briefing, and Risch said a broader

briefing for senators, perhaps next week, was “in the works.”State Department officials said threats in the region were

credible and based on intelligence showing Iranian-backed militias had been

moving personnel and weaponry as well as stepping up surveillance of US and US-affiliated

facilities in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. The officials were not

authorized to comment publicly by name and spoke only on condition of

anonymity.They pushed back against speculation that the decision to

bring nonessential personnel home from Iraq was a prelude to military conflict.

There is no US desire for war, said one official, who had returned earlier

Wednesday from Europe with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.Several Democrats pinned the sudden moves in part on

National Security Adviser John Bolton, known for his hawkish views. Some have

suggested Pompeo and Bolton don’t see eye-to-eye on the US strategy, and Trump

found it necessary to comment on that.“There is no infighting whatsoever,” he tweeted on

Wednesday. “All sides, views, and policies are covered,” and he reserves the

“decisive and final decision,” he said.“I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon,” he said,

without elaboration.Earlier this year, Congress forced Trump into the first veto

of his administration over a resolution that passed the House and Senate to

halt US involvement in the Saudi-led war against Iranian backed Houthi rebels

in Yemen.Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a senior member of the Intelligence

Committee said, “The people inside the administration who are trying to start a

war know that if they have this conversation in an open and transparent way,

there will be very substantial pushback from both parties and both houses of Congress.”Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, who is a former CIA

officer, said the administration’s information on Iran is highly sensitive and

by nature cannot be shared with a wide audience.“When you get such credible intelligence that leads to major

decisions like rerouting aircraft carriers, it’s important that the way the

information is collected is not damaged,” Hurd said. “You need to protect

sources and methods.”Pelosi warned that the administration cannot rely on the

most recent use-of-force authorization approved by Congress nearly 20 years ago

for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.“They have no business declaring a war without the consent

of Congress,” she said.The administration canceled a separate briefing on Iran that

had been scheduled for Wednesday with the House Intelligence Committee,

according to people familiar with the situation.Since last week, House leaders have been asking for a

classified session for lawmakers on the situation with Iran, but Pelosi said

the administration indicated it couldn’t come together “that fast.”An administration official said they have no plans for a

wider briefing at this point.“The bigger problem is, so what if you get a briefing,” said

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who

raised broader questions of Trump’s foreign policy. “What does my briefing mean

if he comes out and tweets something?”











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