Murkowski commends drone strike; Sullivan says Trump didn’t need Congress’ OK

Sen. Dan Sullivan and Gen. Robert Neller in 2016. (Photo: Ben Matheson, Anchorage)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she’ll sign onto a resolution that commends President Donald Trump and praises the military for the drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Murkowski, in a written statement, called the attack at the Baghdad airport “significant” and “decisive.” She said it “eliminated one of the greatest threats to peace in the region.”  She also said she’ll look for a path toward de-escalation.

Congress has never authorized a war against Iran, and some Democrats are questioning the legality of the attack. But Sen. Dan Sullivan says Soleimani was a vicious killer of American soldiers and he says Trump’s order was justified.

“I think it’s a noncontroversial statement that the president’s commander and chief constitutional authority is to protect American forces abroad is – he has those,” Sullivan said.

He contrasted the attack with another potential scenario – a pre-emptive invasion of North Korea. That would definitely require congressional authorization, Sullivan said, but he believes Trump was within his rights when he ordered the killing in Iraq on his own.  

“The big distinction is are you acting to protect American lives, whether diplomats or soldiers, that’s the most obvious area where (the president) has broad constitutional authority,” Sullivan said.

Trump and members of his cabinet say Soleimani was plotting an “imminent” attack on U.S. interests, a claim many Democrats in Congress are questioning.

Sullivan says he’ll know more after a congressional briefing on Wednesday.