The Corner

Politics & Policy

In Praise of Senator Mike Lee

Senator Mike Lee speaks at a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz in Provo, Utah, March 19, 2016. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

After a briefing at the White House yesterday afternoon, Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) unleashed on the Trump administration for its disregard of Congress’s role in authorizing military action. It’s about time a lawmaker or two remembered to care about that.

“They’re appearing before a co-equal branch of government responsible for their funding, for their confirmation, for any approval of any military action they might undertake,” Lee said after emerging from a briefing that Trump-administration officials held on the killing of Qasem Soleimani. “They had to leave after 75 minutes, while they were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public.”

Conducting a press meeting after the briefing, Lee — along with Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) — said senators were instructed that they were not permitted to dissent from whatever President Trump determined was the best course of action in Iran. When they were told that Trump needed congressional authorization for some types of military action, staffers replied, “I’m sure we could think of something.”

Lee said it was “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.” He went on to call it “absolutely insane” and “unacceptable,” as well as “insulting and demeaning” that the staffers briefing senators told them not to debate whether the U.S. ought to undertake additional military action in Iran.

Not only is it good to see that at least one or two lawmakers still cares about the constitutional obligation for Congress to authorize military action, but it’s even more gratifying to see some who are willing to hold a president and administration of their own party accountable to that.

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