But as the president remains in a holding pattern, still deliberating days after tweeting a blunt warning of imminent missile strikes, several House Democrats – who are also military veterans – are blasting the president for publicly telegraphing the potential use of military force on social media.
“The president’s behavior is both reckless and irresponsible,” Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., said. “It endangers the lives of our men and women in uniform – people who have put their life in harm’s way to protect our security.”
Trump tweeted a warning shot on Wednesday.
“War is a very serious endeavor, and some of us know first-hand what that means,” Thompson, a Vietnam veteran, said. “War is not a reality television show.”
Rep. Ruben Gallego, who served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq, said if any other president had behaved like President Trump, “I think we would all be aghast, and actually question the sanity of that president.”
“The president’s a horrible president,” Gallego, D-Ariz., said. “He doesn’t know how to govern. He doesn’t know how to work with his cabinet. He doesn’t know how to work with professionals. He just spouts at the mouth like a drunkard. I mean that’s the reality of what we’re dealing with.”
Rep. Salud Carbajal, also a Marine veteran, said the president’s tweets “confuse our allies” by signaling “radical foreign policy shifts in a matter of hours.
“It is clear that the president has fallen into a dangerous pattern of tweeting first and asking questions later, often basing our most complex national security decisions on what he’s watching on cable news that morning and forcing his staff to scramble to implement policy as a result,” Carbajal, D-Calif., said. “I urge the president to resist the urge to tweet on matters of national security, and instead rely on the counsel of his advisors in the future. Lives are on the line.”
“The idea that you would do serious matters over the Twitter without the advice of your advisors, without the advice of the military, without working with Congress should worry every American across our great country,” Thompson added. “It’s gotta stop.”
While House Speaker Paul Ryan maintains the president has adequate authorization to order the use of force in Syria, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, a former Marine Corps captain, said that using the 9/11 authorization to justify strikes in Syria is “increasingly difficult.”
“We’ve stretched that past the bounds of credulity,” Gallagher said. “I mean it’s a 17-word authorization passed seven days after 9/11 that we’re using to kill people that weren’t even born on 9/11.”
Gallagher believes the White House should immediately seek new authorization in order to “ give any military strike more crediblity.”
“I’m more than willing to work with the administration to give them the authority they need, but it’s long past time for Congress to step up and do that,” he said. “It would force us to flesh out some questions surrounding our broader strategy and in the region
Gallego also said Trump should come to the Capitol to seek new congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria.
“Whether it’s bragging about the big button on his desk, talking about the bigger missiles that he’s going to lob when talking vis-à-vis Putin, or now about how shiny and quick and slick our missiles are, this is not how responsible leadership talks,” Gallego said. “This is not how leadership treats its troops and it is the responsibility of Congress, specifically Republicans in Congress to put this in check.”