May 24, 2018

Video: Kaine Gets Commitments From Pompeo To Help Release The Syria Memo & Provide Position On Corker-Kaine AUMF

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine secured commitments from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he will work on providing Kaine with the secret memo that, according to reports, details the Trump Administration’s legal basis for U.S. airstrikes last April against Syria. Kaine has been pressing the Administration to release the memo, which may serve as precedent for Trump to take additional unilateral military action against other nations without Congress’s approval.  Secretary Pompeo also committed to provide the Administration’s formal position on the Corker-Kaine Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

The Corker-Kaine AUMF would repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs that multiple Presidents have stretched to fight wars across the world, and replace them with a more limited authorization for military action against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS. This AUMF would strengthen congressional oversight and transparency over the war against terrorist groups and explicitly prevent President Trump from using it to start wars with sovereign nations. Kaine has long been a leading voice in the Senate on the need for Congress to reassert its role in authorizing military action and debate a new AUMF against ISIS and other non-state terrorists. Kaine strongly believes Congress owes it to the troops who are risking their lives in these wars to vote on their mission. He has raised concerns that U.S. counterterrorism operations have turned into a ‘forever war’ that has mutated across the globe without approval from Congress.

You can watch video footage of Senator Kaine questioning Pompeo here:

VIDEO: Kaine secures Pompeo’s commitment to release Syria memo now that he has taken office.

VIDEO: Kaine secures Pompeo’s commitment to work with Congress to support efforts to pass a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).

Excerpts of Kaine’s questioning of Pompeo are below:  

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Kaine: When you were before us in April at your hearing, I asked you a question about trying to have this Committee receive a legal memo that had been done in April 2017 regarding U.S. air strikes in Syria. And you said at that time, quote, “I promise I will work alongside you to do the best I can to get you that information. If it's a classified version of it, that you have a right as a member of the legislative branch to see, I will work to get you that. If it's an unclassified version we will work to get you that as well.” Two days after that hearing, we once again carried out air strikes in Syria against the Assad regime. We have not received the memo, in any version, and I'd like to ask why? And will you work with us so we can see the appropriate version of that memo?

Pompeo: I will accept responsibility. I haven't turned to that. I will.

Kaine: You've been busy, but, I do want your commitment.

Pompeo: I made a commitment to you that I would do it. I will turn to it this week.  I may have an extra day now.

Kaine: Thank you.

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Kaine: My colleagues will speak for themselves but there is near unity, maybe not unanimity, but near unity that we should be engaged in military action against ISIS, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. There is near unity that it would be a good idea to have an updated authorization. Some of us believe that it’s legally mandatory. Others believe that it may not be, but it’s a good idea. There’s near unity on the proposition that if we’re going to do an authorization, it should be bipartisan rather than just one side supporting military action and one side not for purposes of the troops. You served in the military; you understand why that’s important. And there’s near unity, and this is the hardest one, that of course if we’re going to do it, we should do a good a job as we can because we could be living with it for a long time, there are consequences we can predict, there are consequences we might not predict.  I would suffice to say based upon my knowledge of your record, when you were a house member and your testimony last month, you sort of share those propositions. We ought to be engaging in military action. It would be a good idea to update the authorization. It ought to be bipartisan. We ought to take the time to get it right. Is that right?

Pompeo: Yes, sir. I’m part of the team unity.

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Kaine: The chair has indicated a willingness, after we have a hearing and hear from this administration, to sort of tackle this. The suggestions that you referenced earlier – are you communicating those to the Committee sort of in writing so that – we are on recess next week, but if we come back the following week and we want to start grappling with amendments by members – I don’t believe that Congress needs to play “mother may I” with the Administration on anything, but we want your advice and suggestions. Are you communicating those in a formal way to us?

Pompeo: If we have not, we will.

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