Though she no longer works as a mouthpiece for the White House in any official capacity, former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is still defending the administration. Namely, shielding the actions of president Donald Trump from any kind of scrutiny or congressional oversight, even if it means undermining the U.S. constitution.
In an interview Thursday with the president's favorite morning news show, Fox & Friends, Sanders was asked about a new House war powers resolution bill aimed at limiting Trump's military actions against Iran. Without hesitation, Sanders shot down the idea, saying, "I can't think of anything dumber" than allowing Congress to vote on Trump's Middle East foreign policy, regardless of the potential consequences. Rather, she suggested, the president should be given authority to direct military endeavors abroad with impunity, because the Democratic-led House is, to her mind, teeming with ineffectual rubes.
Defected Republican congressman Justin Amash of Michigan, now an Independent, called out her remarks earlier today:
You don't need to be a constitutional scholar to know that acts of war against sovereign nations require the approval of Congress. The Constitution, Article 1, section 8, clause 1, specifically grants the legislative branch the authority to declare war.
The Congress shall have Power . . . To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules conquering Captures on Land and Water.
Moreover, the War Powers Resolution of 1973 further solidified this rule, establishing that "the collective judgement of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities."
It isn't a rule that's constrained all military endeavors abroad in the intervening years, however. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama drew condemnation from groups on the left for waging secretive drone campaigns in the Middle East that killed thousands. The Obama administration's actions in particular may have been a harbinger of Trump's current foreign policy, although the recent killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani represents an attack on a sovereign nation with 80 million inhabitants, rather than isolated militant groups.
Still, support for Trump's unchecked executive power, as advocated for by Sanders, has managed to infuriate some Republican members of Congress. Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky both expressed a certain level of exasperation and disgust not only with the strike that killed Soleimani, but with the White House's greater strategy for dealing with Iran. On Wednesday, Lee told reporters that a closed-door briefing on the Iran issue between the White House and Senators was "the worst briefing I've seen, at least on a military issue." He also called it "insane." Paul, for his part, denounced the Trump administration for using the 2002 Iraqi War Authorization to justify its attack against Soleimani, and called the closed-door briefing "less than satisfying."
Though a broader rift within the rank and file of Republican legislators doesn't appear to be taking shape, with many erring on the side of unchecked executive power, like Sanders, both Paul and Lee have pledged to join Democratic members of the House by supporting the new war powers resolution.
Originally Appeared on GQ