Sen. Mike Lee said Friday it's "impossible" for him to completely evaluate President Donald Trump's decision to launch strikes against Syria Thursday night, saying he does not have the intelligence Trump had in hand.
"The American people understand that there is a constitutional obligation, any time we are getting involved militarily in a foreign conflict, for the president of the United States to come to Congress and make the case," the Utah Republican told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
A president can order a discreet strike, said Lee, but there is a "short shot clock" on that and after that the president needs to come to Congress to make his case to the American people.
"I am a firm believer that any time we get involved in something like this, we've got to have a clear plan in mind," said Lee. "That plan needs to be linked to making the American people safer rather than just some abstract concept, abstract point we are trying to make. I trust that the president and those close to him have the ability to make these decisions in a way that will enhance the safety of the American people."
The airstrikes were conducted to send Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a message following the use of chemical weapons in an attack earlier this week, Lee acknowledged, but he also said there must be a plan about what will happen.
"I look forward to hearing what the plan is," said Lee. "In other words, we need to know if the plan is not to topple Assad, we need to know what the post-Assad Syria would look like, how are we going to get there and how it's want to make the American people safer."
Earlier Friday morning, Lee commented on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program that even though actual war has not been declared since World War II, "the fact we might not have followed it religiously in the past, it doesn't excuse us."
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"That's not to say that the president as commander-in-chief can't order a direct military operation, a finite operation in time, but within a very short period of time, the president is expected to come to Congress, present a plan, Congress should declare war, authorize the use of military force," said Lee.
It's hard to determine if the airstrikes made sense without a plan, said Lee.
"It's one of the reasons why the constitutional process is so important," the senator said. "It requires the president to lay out a plan. The president has access to information the rest of us don't have. It may well be proven out in time that he did the right thing. We just don't have that information."
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