President Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense this week, but you likely haven’t heard about it on cable news.
It did not involve firing the director of the FBI, nor conspiring with the attorney general to facilitate the firing that even some Republicans recognized as a potential obstruction of justice, nor bragging to the Russians about how “pressure” was “taken off” by that firing, nor any of the other acts of presidential maladministration that scream out for an accountability moment.
Those developments may have gotten the impeachment clock ticking faster, as Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan suggested. But there was another event—nothing to do with Russia—that should have set off the alarm: Donald Trump’s refusal to respect the requirements that the US Constitution places on presidents when it comes to matters of war and peace.
On Wednesday, US forces carried out more unauthorized air strikes on pro-government forces in Syria. Though the Constitution explicitly states that the legislative branch, not the executive, has the power to initiate new military actions, Trump has steered the United States deeper into the Syrian conflict.
After initial reports that US officials had confirmed “that the US-led Coalition hit Assad regime forces with air strikes in southern Syria today,” Congressman Ted Lieu, a former active-duty officer in the US Air Force now serving as a colonel in the Reserves, who is an expert in military law, had the right response on Twitter:
If true, this is FRICKIN ILLEGAL. Trump does not have Congressional authorization to attack Syria, a country that has not attacked US. https://t.co/5cf7gBVwC7