Murkowski, Sullivan support drone strike that killed Iranian leader

James Mattis, left, who served as President Donald Trump’s defense secretary until December 2018, speaks with U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, on June 25, 2018, on the Eielson Air Force Base flight line. (Public domain photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher/U.S. Air Force)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she’ll sign onto a resolution that commends President Donald Trump and praises the military for the drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Murkowski, in a written statement, called the attack at the Baghdad airport “significant” and “decisive.” The Alaska Republican said it “eliminated one of the greatest threats to peace in the region.” She also said she’ll look for a path toward de-escalation.

Congress has never authorized a war against Iran, and some Democrats are questioning the legality of the attack. But Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said Soleimani was a “vicious” killer of American soldiers, and he said Trump’s order was justified.

“I think it’s a noncontroversial statement that the president’s commander-and-chief constitutional authority is to protect American forces abroad,” Sullivan said.

He contrasted the attack with another potential scenario: a preemptive invasion of North Korea. That would definitely require congressional authorization, Sullivan said, but he believes Trump was within his rights when he ordered the killing in Iraq on his own.

“The big distinction is, are you acting to protect American lives, whether diplomats or soldiers? That’s the most obvious area where (the president) has broad constitutional authority,” Sullivan said.

Trump and members of his cabinet say Soleimani was plotting an “imminent” attack on U.S. interests, a claim many Democrats in Congress are questioning.

Sullivan said he’ll know more after a congressional briefing on Wednesday.

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