House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) condemned the “dangerous escalation of tensions” with Iran after President Donald Trump directed a drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, a top commander.
Pelosi also said that the strike, which was announced to have occurred at the Baghdad airport by the Defense Department Thursday night, was okayed without an Authorization for Use of Military Force or consultation with Congress.
“The full Congress must be immediately briefed on this serious situation and on the next steps under consideration by the Administration, including the significant escalation of the deployment of additional troops to the region,” she said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on CNN Friday morning after tweeting that the drone strike was in response to “imminent threats to American lives.”
“I can’t talk too much about the nature of the threats but the American people should know that President Trump’s decision to remove Qasem Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives,” Pompeo said. “No doubt about that. He was actively plotting in the region to take ‘big action,’ as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent. This was an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision making process.”
He added that Soleimani’s planned attack would have taken place not just in Iraq, but “throughout the region” and promised that the administration would “do our best” to release information collected about it that prompted the drone strike.
He also repeated a tweeted line about people “dancing in the streets” of Iraq after Soleimani’s killing.
Trump retweeted warnings for American citizens to leave Iraq, also tweeting out an American flag and a cryptic exclamation.
Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
Per Reuters, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already claimed Soleimani as a “martyr” and promised “revenge.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised that the “jihad of resistance will continue with a doubled motivation.”
Democratic presidential hopefuls also weighed in on the strike.
“This is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement. “President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.”
“We could be on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East,” he added.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called the strike a “reckless move.”
Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 3, 2020
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called it a “dangerous escalation.”
Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.
Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 3, 2020