Trump Overruled Sec. Mattis to Attack Syria Without Congressional Approval After He Tweeted Threats: Report

President Donald Trump rejected Secretary of Defense James Mattis' insistence that he needed congressional approval to attack Syria last week, according to a new report from the New York Times. Trump wanted to back up his threatening tweets, so he didn't want to risk the possibility that Congress could stop him from acting or slow him down, the report said.

Now that John Bolton is national security adviser, replacing H.R. McMaster, Mattis has few allies in the administration. Along with McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Mattis had been seen as one of the "adults" in the room restraining the president's worst impulses — but his power seems to be waning.

Trump's worst impulses were on display when he tweeted:

Mattis was on firm ground insisting that Trump request approval from Congress for a strike. The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, and the legal justification for the president's strikes in Syria remains highly dubious. Given the choice between following the Constitution and standing behind his tweets, it's not hard to guess how the president will act.

Hiring Bolton, an extreme foreign policy hawk who has advocated for the Iraq War and has defended the idea of launching a first strike against North Korea, also prefigured the strikes. By bringing him on, Trump made it clear he was likely to adopt a more aggressive stance on the world stage. 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.