Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday emphasized that U.S. military action against Iran "must not be initiated" without congressional approval, after President Trump approved and then reversed a decision to strike Iran over the downing of a U.S. drone this week.
Pelosi told reporters that she was not notified by officials of the president's decision on Thursday to approve the military strike when she and other congressional leaders went to the White House for a briefing that day.
“We left with the idea that the president was going to consider some options,” Pelosi told reporters on Friday. “I did not receive any heads-up that there was a strike that was in the works.”
“Maybe the other leaders did on the Republican side, but I did not receive any of that,” she added.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said Thursday that Democrats told Trump in a Situation Room meeting that he needs to get congressional authorization before taking military action.
Trump said Friday that officials had been "cocked and loaded" to retaliate against Iran after he learned an Iranian missile system shot down a U.S. military drone that Iranian officials argued entered the country's airspace, a claim U.S. officials have refuted.
However, the president said he decided to call off the mission after he learned 150 Iranians would die as a result of the retaliatory strike.
"We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone," Trump tweeted.
Iranian officials said that the president warned them that an attack was imminent and that they were informed of the planned attack a "short period" before it was initially scheduled to be carried out.
“In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues,” one Iranian official said.
In either case, Pelosi emphasized to the Trump administration in a statement that “hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.”
“During our meeting with the President at the White House, Congressional Leaders stressed the necessity that we work with our allies and not strengthen the hand of Iran’s hardliners,” she said.
“We have no illusions about the dangerous conduct of the Iranian regime,” she added. “This is a dangerous, high-tension situation that requires a strong, smart and strategic approach.”