Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a warning to lawmakers following numerous public statements made by elected officials in the aftermath of the death of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian head of the Quds Force, in a drone strike on Thursday.
“Predictably enough, in this political environment, the operation that resulted in his death may prove controversial or divisive,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate.
He added, “Although I anticipate and welcome debate about America’s interest in foreign policy in the Middle East, I recommend that all senators wait to review the facts and hear from the administration before passing much public judgment on this operation, and it’s potential consequences.”
A classified briefing on the strike is likely to occur in the coming week while Senate staff will be briefed by the Trump administration, he said.
McConnell added that Soleimani was “an architect and chief engineer of the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism,” saying that President Donald Trump effectively removed him.
“No man was more directly responsible for the deaths of more American service members,” McConnell said.
A number of Democratic members of Congress have said that Trump should have consulted Congress before the airstrikes. Reports have said that some lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), were alerted of the airstrike ahead of time.
“The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran,” Pelosi said in a statement.“Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress,” Pelosi added.
In defense of the strike, Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was plotting to kill more Americans.
The Iranian commander “was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number,” Trump said on Twitter. “While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago,” he wrote.
Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions … that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk,” Pompeo told CNN.
The Quds Force—which reports directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei—is a unit within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards—a designated foreign terrorist organization—that serves to gather intelligence and supports Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hamas, Yemen’s Houthis, and a variety of Shia terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.