NYT: Trump, Mattis disagreed over approval for Syria strike

President Donald Trump quashed Defense Secretary James Mattis’ suggestion to obtain congressional authorization ahead of last week’s strikes in Syria, military and administration officials told The New York Times.

According to the Times report, the officials said Trump’s choice to override Mattis’ guidance to get congressional approval for the strikes was because he wanted his tweets to be supported by action, despite warnings that not erring on the side of caution could precipitate a larger dispute with Russia.

The ultimate plan that was carried out was the compromise between Trump and Mattis, the Times reported.

In a statement on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson Dana White called the Times’ story “blatantly false.”

Last Friday night, Trump announced that the US — alongside UK and French allies — had initiated precision strikes in Syria as a response to an alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speculation had been building all week around the US response leading up to the announcement — Trump added to the suspense, firing off tweets aimed at Russia during the week.

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” Trump wrote in one tweet. “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

Following the news of the strike, several Democratic lawmakers called for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, which has been used as justification for military action in the broader US fight against terrorism.

“The President must come to Congress and secure an Authorization for Use of Military Force by proposing a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives that keep our military safe and avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement Friday night.