February 28, 2020

Castro Questions Secretary Pompeo During HFAC Hearing on Iran

- As Delivered -

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, today had the following exchange with Secretary Pompeo on Iran during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing:

CASTRO: Thank you, Chairman. Mr. Secretary, you and I were both on the Intelligence Committee before you left to go to the CIA, and I am still on that committee. I listened to your answers on classified information and I’ve seen that classified information, and after reviewing it, I don’t think that you’re telling us the truth. And I would encourage the President and you to declassify as much of that as possible. I think if the American people read it for themselves, they wouldn’t believe that you are telling us the truth.

Here’s my question: my colleagues have shown killing Soleimani made America less safe in ways that were entirely predictable. And yet, it doesn’t seem that the Administration was at all prepared for a vote to expel American forces from Iraq, or for guided missile strikes that forced our servicemembers to hide in bunkers, or for a complete halt to the fight against ISIS. Just like the pull out from Syria, the President made a decision with no planning and no understanding of the consequences. This is exactly why the framers of our Constitution decided not to entrust any single person with the power to take America to war. Instead of following the law and seeking authorization, you first said there was an imminent threat, which we know isn’t true. You then concocted a theory that Congress somehow already authorized you to attack Iran. Mr. Secretary, do you really believe Congress authorized the President to attack Iran?

POMPEO: I am very confident that every action that this Administration has taken is fully lawful.

CASTRO: The President and the Administration has referenced the 2002 AUMF. Let me ask you, Mr. Secretary, how many times does the 2002 Saddam Hussein authorization which you’re invoking here mention Iran?

POMPEO: I’ll leave it to the lawyers to debate the scope of that, but I know that this was discussed, vetted, approved by the lawyers as has every action this Administration has taken. And we conducted this attack fully inside our statutory and constitutional responsibility. The President acted lawfully.

CASTRO: You know Mr. Secretary that it doesn’t mention Iran. Every member of this body knows that Congress never authorized war with Iran and we certainly didn’t do it eighteen years ago on an authorization for an entirely different war. I yield to Mr. Espaillat of New York.

Link to full exchange here.

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