TOLEDO, Ohio — President Trump went after his Democratic critics at a raucous campaign rally hours after the House of Representatives passed a resolution that sought to limit his ability to use military force against Iran.
The House voted 224 to 194, mostly along party lines, to cease military operations against Iran. Speaking to a rally at Toledo’s Huntington Center, Trump mocked the resolution: “You should get permission from Congress,” Trump said. “You should tell us what you’re going to do so we can call up the fake news and we can leak it.”
The vote came days after Trump approved a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, heightening tensions between the two countries. The resolution will go to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain, but it does not require the president’s signature. Its practical effect if it does pass is uncertain.
By the terms of the resolution, future military action against Iran would require a declaration of war by Congress, unless “such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces, consistent with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution.”
Trump’s rally speech did not acknowledge the exception made for defense against “an imminent armed attack.” The administration has said that Soleimani was targeted to prevent an “imminent” attack but has provided few details.
“We didn’t have time to call up Nancy [Pelosi], who is not operating with a full deck,” Trump said. He reserved special mockery for Rep. Adam Schiff, the head of the House Intelligence Committee who managed the impeachment inquiry into the president.
“He buys the smallest shirt collar you can get and it’s loose,” Trump said of the California Democrat.
Trump also had harsh words for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“Crazy Bernie has condemned the U.S. military strike on Soleimani, the world’s top terrorist,” Trump said.
The Senate is set to take up its own war powers resolution next week that would require Trump to wind down military action in Iran in 30 days unless authorized by Congress.
Expanding on his rationale for ordering the strike that many Democrats say has brought the U.S. to the brink of war with Iran, Trump claimed Soleimani was planning attacks on multiple U.S. embassies.
“He was looking very seriously at our embassies and not just the embassy in Baghdad,” Trump said, “but we stopped him very quickly and we stopped him cold.”
With nearly 8,000 of his supporters cheering him on, Trump portrayed his response to the mob attack on the U.S. Embassy in Bahgdad as an unmitigated success.
“This was the anti-Benghazi,” Trump said. “We got there very quickly.”
“I saw what was happening,” Trump said of the protests, adding, “I called up our great generals and I said, get them over there now. One of our generals said, ‘Sir, we’ll have them there tomorrow.’ I said, no, get them there immediately.”
Before Trump spoke members of his audience gave the president their support for his moves against Iran.
“I don’t know. I’m glad they got that general,” Phillip Sellati, a retail manager from Lima, Ohio, said. “I don’t know. It’s kind of a quagmire ... you just have to — I think Donald Trump has the right way to go about it. There’s only one way to beat a bully and that’s to beat him down.”
Asked whether Trump risked breaking his campaign promises to end America’s “endless wars,” Craig Pencheff, a car wash owner in Sylvania, said:
“No, not at all. He just held back when I would have gone in and blew up at least their nuke sites,” said Pencheff, wearing a hoodie featuring an eagle and an American flag and pins that read “CNN Sucks!” and “Finish the Wall.” “As long as he didn’t put boots on the ground, I don’t think he’s going to break the promise.”
Back in Washington, Pelosi is expected to send articles of impeachment to the Senate as early as Friday, which would set the stage for a formal trial that could result in Trump’s removal from office.
That notion didn’t sit well with the president’s Ohio fans.
“If Trump gets removed from office, there’s going to be hell to pay, I’m telling you right now,” Pencheff said.
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