Politics

Adam Schiff calls for open hearings as Trump's Iran moves stoke tensions

Key Points
  • "I think there should be open hearings on this subject," Schiff told Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent in the interview published Monday.
  • Schiff told Sargent that the president's surprise decision to authorize the killing of top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani could have dire consequences.
  • Schiff led the way during Trump's impeachment in the House.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., conducts news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on the transcript of a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is wading into the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump's Middle East military action by calling for Congress to hold open hearings.

Schiff, who led the way during Trump's impeachment in the House, told Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent that the president's surprise decision to authorize the killing of top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani could have dire consequences.

"I think there should be open hearings on this subject," Schiff told Sargent in the interview published Monday.

"The president has put us on a path where we may be at war with Iran. That requires the Congress to fully engage," Schiff said.

If the House follows through on Schiff's call for open hearings, Trump administration officials could be brought forward to testify about the planning and timing behind the airstrike.

Schiff told Sargent that he's "not satisfied" that intelligence he's seen so far "supports the conclusion that the killing of Soleimani was going to either prevent attacks on the United States or reduce the risk to American lives."

Democrats in Congress — and most of the presidential primary field — responded with alarm after the Trump administration announced that Soleimani had been killed by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad on Thursday. While they acknowledged that Soleimani has been blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, many feared that the move to kill the high-ranking official was ill-conceived and could escalate tensions in an already tense region.

"President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation," former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Only a handful of political leaders, including Trump's close ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said they were notified in advance of the airstrike. None of the four top Democrats on the so-called Gang of Eight said they had been warned before Soleimani was killed.

Trump's surrogates and Cabinet members have said that Soleimani's death saved Americans from imminent threats. But U.S. officials told The New York Times that the evidence for such imminent attacks is "razor thin."

In accordance with the law, the Trump administration sent Congress a letter of notification after the strike was carried out. But it was completely classified, Democrats said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced that the House would soon vote on a War Powers resolution that would stop all U.S. military hostilities toward Iran within 30 days "if no further Congressional action is taken."

NBC News reported that senators will be briefed Wednesday on the Baghdad airstrike by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley and CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Iran, meanwhile, has vowed revenge on the U.S. and says it will no longer abide by any of the restrictions in the 2015 nuclear deal struck during the Obama administration. Iraq's parliament voted for a resolution to essentially expel U.S. troops by ending all foreign military presence in the country.