Spokesman for the Department of Defense John Kirby refuted claims from Senate Democrats on Friday that they were not consulted concerning the Thursday airstrikes against targets in Syria.
Kirby appeared on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” and discussed with host Andrea Mitchell the complaints by some Democratic senators about the strikes, as well as the legal authority that President Joe Biden’s administration operated under when carrying them out.
Mitchell began by detailing specific complaints from Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy regarding the airstrikes, and stated that “there was no notification, no prior consultation with Congress to my knowledge” before they took place.
Kaine and Murphy both released released statements on Friday, with Kaine’s reading, “Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances. Congress must be fully briefed on this matter expeditiously.” (RELATED: Old Tweets From Democrats Slamming Trump Resurface After Syria Airstrike)
Murphy’s statement read, “Congress should hold this administration to the same standard it did prior administrations, and require clear legal justifications for military action.”
Tim Kaine goes after Biden administration for the Syria strikes last night.
“Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances.” pic.twitter.com/uXXSdgEUeg
— Sam Stein (@samstein) February 26, 2021
“I would tell you that the president acted well within his constitutional authorities under Article 2 as Commander In Chief of the United States, to protect American service members involved in operations. Clearly, there’s a constitutional authority here,” Kirby responded. “Secondly, the president was acting well within Article 51 of the United Nations. Our obligation under the United Nations, which is an article that provides for self-defense.”
He went on to say that the administration is “confident” that there was “ample legal justification” for the strikes. He added that he would leave the consultations with Congress for his “colleagues at the White House,” but that “there was a notification process.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement Friday afternoon that also directly contradicted Senate Democrats, reading, “The Department of Defense briefed Congressional leadership before the action last night. The Administration has been briefing the Hill at the Member– and staff– level today. There will be a full classified briefing early next week at the latest.”
The Democratic senators who claimed they were not notified of the strike have not yet publicly responded to Psaki’s statement.