Senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.) declared on Sunday that numerous previous military actions to protect Americans and American interests were illegal.
Arguing that Trump should have obtained approval from the Congress before authorizing the strikes, Kaine condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to attack the Shayrat airfield in Syria, in retaliation to the Assad regime’s use of banned chemical weapons on Syrian citizens.
“Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd sought explanation from Kaine on his stance and asked him about prior cases in American history similar to last week’s.
“Senator, in this case it’s very limited, number one. And number two, there were American interests on the ground, we have U.S. soldiers, special operations forces that are on the ground very close to chemical weapons,” Todd said. “If you’re saying this action was illegal, then you must be thinking that the Libya action by President Obama was illegal, Grenada by President Reagan, that was illegal. Are you saying that all of those actions were illegal?”
Surprisingly, Kaine replied with a “Yes” to all of Todd’s examples.
Kaine replied that he had rejected former President Barack Obama’s decision of firing missiles at air defense targets belonging to the Libyan forces commanded by then-dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
“I agreed with the Republicans in the House that rebuked President Obama and said he exceeded his authority because the U.S. wasn’t under imminent threat,” he said. “That’s the only circumstance where a Commander in Chief can use article two power without going to Congress, if there’s an imminent threat to the United States.”
Conservative icon, Patrick J. Buchanan wrote on Monday that “Trump’s missile attack was unconstitutional. Assad had not attacked or threatened us, and Congress, which alone has the power to authorize war on Syria, has never done so.
Former President Ronald Reagan also invaded Grenada in order to protect Americans on the island, during rising pressure from communist forces in 1983.
As American’s were attending a school in Grenada, it was arguable that the use of force fell within the legal guidelines that within the War Powers Resolution.
The resolution states that Armed Forces can only be sent into action through a Declaration of War, “statutory authorization, or in the case of “a national emergency created by attack upon United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”
The chemical attack that occurred in Syria did not fall within those three requirements and Constitutional experts state that Trump was required to obtain an “Authorization for the Use of Military Force.”
Trump is not the first president to use military force in violation of the Constitution. John Adams started a war with France without Congressional approval and even Thomas Jefferson took on the Barbary pirates without consulting Congress.