Sen. Lee says strikes on Syria not justified, Trump needed 'congressional authorization'

Sen. Mike Lee (File photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — Utah's U.S. Sen. Mike Lee said President Trump should have sought congressional authorization for air strikes in Syria.

He issued a statement Monday in response to Trump's letter stating he was not justified in his decisions. It said in part:

While the president has the authority under the War Powers Act to respond when the U.S. is under attack or in imminent danger, such circumstances did not exist with regard to Syria ... if they are to be pursued with military force, a president must first seek congressional authorization

Lee said that no matter the president's party or political ideology, he doesn't not have the authority "to unilaterally start a war."

Trump and European allies launched the attacks against Syria to to punish Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians. Trump issued a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, explaining why the actions were taken. It said:

I acted pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States to promote the stability of the region, to deter the use and proliferation of chemical weapons, and to avert a worsening of the region’s current humanitarian catastrophe. The United States will take additional action, as necessary and appropriate, to further its important national interests.

Lee's full response is below:

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