President waging military action against Syria without a vote of Congress? Unconstitutional.— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) April 7, 2017
Asked what constitutional and legal authority the president used to fire 59 $1 million Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airport ― and whether he was concerned how Trump might use that authority in the future ― Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ducked.
“I think the president had the authority to do what he he did,” McConnell said, without elaboration. “And I’m glad he did it.”
The No. 2 Republican in the Senate, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, was similarly pleased that Trump retaliated for an alleged chemical bombing this week that killed dozens of civilians. But when he was asked for the U.S. rationale, Cornyn showed why McConnell may have declined to elaborate.
“I’ll tell you there is a desire to see what authority that the administration is claiming to operate under so far ― whether it’s based on his powers as commander-in-chief under Article II to deal with the national security interest, or to defend the interest of the United States, or whether there’s more,” Cornyn told reporters after a briefing from Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Other senators who supported the strikes weren’t worried about the authority issues.
“I’ll let the international lawyers look at the details of how they view it,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said it’s open to interpretation if Trump had legal authority.
“It can be argued on both sides,” Tester told reporters. “I think we need an [Authorization for the Use of Military Force] that actually addresses this issue. We don’t have one right now.”
Besides, it's Presidential, and that's what the cable pundits need right now!
“I believe the president does have inherent authority. I think the president should be able to act,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“The president is commander-in-chief,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “It’s the same rationale that Ronald Reagan used after there was a bombing of a bar, a disco in Berlin, and he struck Libya. This is not the first time a president of the United States has acted militarily in response to a crisis, and a necessity for us to react.”
If there was no clear agreement on what authorized Trump’s attack, there was an even greater divergence of opinion on what comes next, or what the Trump’s undefined authority might allow him to do in Syria, or perhaps North Korea or Ukraine.
“I can’t parse that,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who backed Trump’s attack. “That’s a big and complicated question, and not one that I can elaborate.”
Keep it simple, stupid.
A government of military strikes, not of laws. Besides, "war is a force that gives us meaning." What else is a standing army for, amirite? And, of course: IOKIYAR.