In A Letter To Congress (And On Twitter), Trump Defends Military Strike

President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his order two days earlier of a missile strike against a Syrian airfield, writing to congressional leaders that it was the operating base from which the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack the previous Tuesday.

He also discussed the strike, less formally, on his Twitter account.

In a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Trump reiterated his statement Thursday night, after the strike was first announced, that is was carried out “in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”

“United States intelligence indicates that Syrian military forces operating from this airfield were responsible for the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians in southern Idlib Province, Syria, that occurred on April 4,” Trump wrote. “I directed this action in order to degrade the Syrian military’s ability to conduct further chemical weapons attacks and to dissuade the Syrian regime from using or proliferating chemical weapons, thereby promoting the stability of the region and averting a worsening of the region’s current humanitarian catastrophe.”

“I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive,” he continued. “The United States will take additional action, as necessary and appropriate, to further its important national interests.”

The War Powers Resolution requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of any military action taken outside of a formal declaration of war. Trump’s deadline under that resolution was Saturday night.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley also warned that the United States was “prepared to do more” in Syria during remarks to the UN Security Council on Friday.

A handful of senators and congressmen objected to the military attack when it was announced Thursday. Others expressed reservations about the prospect of Trump becoming more involved in the Syrian conflict.

After the White House sent its letter to Congress, Trump followed up on Twitter, seemingly responding to reports that planes had taken off Friday from the same airfield that the United States bombed Thursday night.

An unnamed senior U.S. military official told ABC News Friday that approximately 20 aircraft were struck by the missile strike. The Russian defense ministry said only six aircraft were hit, and that only 23 of the 59 total Tomahawk missiles reached the airfield.

In a press release Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the strike targeted “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.”

Davis added later that “[i]nitial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.”

During a press briefing Friday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said “it’s my understanding that they took out something like 20 percent of the entire Syrian air force. So it was huge not just in terms of number of planes but relative to the scale of their air force.”

At the same briefing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that airfield’s runways weren’t the real target of the strike.

“The runways were not the target due to the nature of the construction of those runways,” he said. “Our military estimate was that we could not do serious damage to the runways. They are very thick and they’re constructed in a way that the ordnance that were used, while would have damaged them — the damage would have been easily repaired in a matter of hours.”

Read Trump’s full letter to Congress below:

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

At approximately 8:40 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on April 6, 2017, at my direction, United States military forces in the Mediterranean Sea, operating beyond the territorial sea of any state, struck the Shayrat military airfield in Syria. United States intelligence indicates that Syrian military forces operating from this airfield were responsible for the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians in southern Idlib Province, Syria, that occurred on April 4. I directed this action in order to degrade the Syrian military’s ability to conduct further chemical weapons attacks and to dissuade the Syrian regime from using or proliferating chemical weapons, thereby promoting the stability of the region and averting a worsening of the region’s current humanitarian catastrophe.

I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. The United States will take additional action, as necessary and appropriate, to further its important national interests.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.

Sincerely,
DONALD J. TRUMP

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Notable Replies

  1. The reason you throw a few missiles at a meaningless airfield is that fireworks make great ratings.

  2. The actual damage caused is besides the point. The missiles gave trump a giant wargasm and the media praised him (which he craves), so unless the grown-ups in the military manage to talk him out of it, trump will want to do it again.

  3. Avatar for marby marby says:

    I wonder who wrote the letter? (The language was definitely too sophisticated for Trump’s vocabulary and grammar skills).

  4. I wanted to blow something up. Eleven weeks into my MAGA term and I was ready. No one has ever been more ready than me to bomb someplace. No one. Crooked Hillary wouldn’t have been ready. Not even close. Just me.

    I did it to keep bad things away. Very bad. I alone did that.

    I’m going golfing now.

  5. That and it made a great show of caring for dead kids, but not enough to help the ones left alive escape the carnage in Syria.
    I wonder how many kids could be saved for $59M, the cost of each missile?

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