Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla. 6th District), a U.S. Army officer, is defending the president's actions in authorizing a drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week and told Cheddar the president acted in self-defense, which Waltz said means he did not need to consult Congress first.
"Looking backwards, I'm fine with this strike," said Waltz. "I think the president has a duty if he has actionable intelligence that [Soleimani] is going to continue to kill Americans ⁠— he's operating in the country where he continues to plot and plan those attacks as he has done for decades ⁠— he is a lawful enemy combatant, completely within the president's authority to defend our diplomats and our soldiers."
White House officials have not yet provided any evidence showing a threat, which the president called "imminent," or revealed when an attack was expected. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the president to release the intelligence.
Waltz, who is on the Armed Services Committee, said he is heading to the White House this afternoon to "take a look at it, myself."
Some Pentagon officials have said intelligence did not show an imminent attack and that the move was part of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's push for aggressive action against Iran.
Waltz echoed remarks from Pompeo this morning, who said Soleimani's "long history of attacking Americans and killing people across the Middle East" led to Trump's decision to authorize the drone strike, at least in part.
The congressman also said the strike came "after a long string of Iranian provocations. This is not an escalation, this is a response, and it's a response designed to stop further escalation," similar to Trump's claim that he ordered the strike to stop war, not start it.
"No one in this administration that I've talked to is talking about a D-Day, Normandy style invasion, boots on the ground of Iran," Waltz said, which would necessitate an Authorization for Use of Military Force from Congress. "Self defense is always within the laws of land warfare and within the commander in chief."