DES MOINES, Iowa – Former Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd of several hundred gathered at a presidential campaign stop at McKinley Elementary School on Saturday night that President Donald Trump lacked the authority to attack Iran.
He, along with other Democratic presidential candidates, opposed President Trump’s ordering of a drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, while traveling in a convoy outside of Baghdad’s international airport last Friday.
Soleimani’s death follows the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday that the United States said was orchestrated by Soleimani.
Soleimani ran a proxy U.S.-Iran war in Iraq over the last decade that resulted in the deaths of over 600 American servicemen.
The Defense Department said that Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
Biden, 77, stopped in Des Moines during a post-New Year’s Day presidential campaign swing through Iowa with U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, who recently endorsed him. Biden finds himself in a four-way battle to win the upcoming Iowa Caucus on February 3rd.
“As we go forward, let me make it clear – President Trump has no authority to take us to military conflict with Iran. Period,” Biden said to applause.
Watch Biden’s remarks on Iran:
“Taking the nation to war requires informed consent, informed consent, of the American people through their Congress,” he added.
“The bottom line is any further action against Iran requires congressional authorization. And I support the efforts in Congress to insist and assert their constitutional prerogative. Congressional leaders have to send a very clear message to the president – he does not have the authority to take us to war, another war in the Middle East, and they will oppose him if he attempts to do so,” Biden explained.
Biden also blamed President Trump for the increased tension between Iran and the United States for his decision to pull the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement between Iran and the United States, European Union, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and Germany. The JCPOA intended to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Republicans widely criticized the non-binding agreement as unenforceable and favored Iran. Republicans also criticized the United States’ release of funds that, in part, funded terrorist organizations supported by Iran.
“It was predictable what would happen. Making America first in his view put America alone,” Biden said, accusing Trump of abandoning U.S. allies that took part in the agreement.
“So folks, it is not a surprise that this cycle, this cycle of violence began,” he said, blaming Trump for the escalating violence.
Biden said Americans shouldn’t mourn Soleimani’s death.
“The administration has given us no confidence that they have any plan or strategy in place for what to do next. None. This president said he has made us safer, but ordered the evacuation of American citizens from Iraq and around the entire region. He said he did this to stop a war, but has moved us precipitately close to an all-out war,” he asserted.
Interestingly, Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security Secretary under President Obama, disagreed with Democrat claims that President Trump needed congressional authority to order the drone strikes.
Also, Vice President Joe Biden served under an administration that ordered airstrikes in Libya and Syria without congressional approval.
Watch Biden’s full remarks:
Watch U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, introduce Biden: