Senators: Trump Lacks 'Legal Authority' for 'Bloody Nose' Hit

Democrats warn that Congress must OK any preemptive strike on North Korea
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2018 11:55 AM CST
Senators: Trump Lacks 'Legal Authority' for 'Bloody Nose' Hit
In this Feb. 2, 2018, photo, President Trump speaks during a meeting with North Korean defectors.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – If President Trump has any plans to give North Korea a "bloody nose" with a preemptive nuclear strike, he'd better go through the proper channels first. That's the gist of a letter, due to be delivered to Trump Monday, from 18 Democratic senators that warns of the "enormous gamble" of such a strike and notes that the senators are "deeply concerned about the potential consequences of a preemptive military strike on North Korea and the risks of miscalculation and retaliation," per the Washington Post. The letter—put together by Sen. Martin Heinrich and signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris, among others—says that without Congress' OK, a Trump administration strike of this nature would lack both "constitutional basis" and "legal authority."

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The letter comes after the seemingly abrupt removal last week of Victor Cha as Trump's nominee for the ambassadorship to South Korea, per the AP. Although the White House didn't offer its reasons for dismissing his nomination, Cha had reportedly expressed in private to members of the National Security Council that he was wary of such a strike, which was followed by his op-ed in the Washington Post last week detailing why he had concerns. In their letter, the senators say the removal of Cha's name as Trump's pick is "disturbing," adding: "We ask that you provide a clear reasoning and justification for his removal from consideration." Meanwhile, during a meeting Friday with a group of North Korean defectors, Trump said he would see how things pan out after Pyeongchang. "We'll get through the Olympics and maybe something good will come out of [it]." (Read more North Korea stories.)

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