Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., called on members of Congress late Thursday to join her in putting a stop to President Trump from starting a war as a "distraction" in Iran following the U.S. airstrike that killed the notorious Gen. Qassim Soleimani.
“So what if Trump wants war, knows this leads to war and needs the distraction?” the Democrat freshman "Squad" member said. “Real question is, will those with congressional authority step in and stop him? I know I will.”
The Pentagon confirmed earlier Thursday evening that Trump had ordered the attack that killed Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force, among other military officials at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. Iran’s top “shadow commander” was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more, the State Department said.
Omar responded to a tweet from Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who questioned whether Trump acted within his right as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to authorize the attack. The U.S. Constitution divides war powers between the Executive and Legislative branches. Congress can declare war and raise support for the armed forces.
“Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question,” Murphy affirmed. “The question is this - as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”
Murphy, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that while the justification for the attack is to “deter future Iranian attacks,” the U.S. usually doesn’t assassinate foreign officials because it could potentially cause more Americans to be killed.
“That should be our real, pressing and grave worry tonight,” he said.
He added that while no one knows what will happen next, “the neocons thumping their chest tonight should recall that the worst mistakes global powers make are when they strike militarily in complicated places with few friends, with no consideration of the consequences.”
Many Democrats admitted that no Americans would mourn Soleimani's death but also raised concern that the escalation will put the U.S. on a crash course for a new conflict in the Mideast. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement saying that Trump ordered the airstrike “without the consultation of Congress.”
The State Department said the airstrike “was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans."
"The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world," the agency said.
Soleimani is suspected of directing a mob of hundreds of Iranian-backed militants to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad this week, triggering a two-day faceoff with American forces at the most heavily fortified U.S. diplomatic mission in the world. On Tuesday, Trump vowed retaliation against the militia groups. He tweeted an American flag Thursday evening after Soleimani’s death was confirmed.
In April 2019, the State Department announced that Iranian and Iranian-backed forces led by Soleimani were responsible for killing 608 U.S. troops during the Iraq War.
Soleimani took over the external operations wing of the IRGC in 1998 and was known as one of the most powerful military leaders in the Middle East. The State Department believes he was the masterminded behind the major military operations, bombings and assassinations that accounted for at least 17 percent of all U.S. personnel deaths in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday warned that a "harsh retaliation is waiting" for the U.S. after the airstrike that killed Soleimani.
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.