A United States watchdog group has filed a lawsuit seeking to force Donald Trump’s presidential administration to explain the legal reasons behind a missile strike on a Syrian airbase in April, The New York Times reported.
On April 7, the Pentagon launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat, located about 40 kilometers from the city of Homs. President Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged chemical weapon use in Idlib several days earlier, which Washington and its allies attributed to Damascus.
While the missile strike attracted bipartisan support as a political matter, its legal basis was disputed, the newspaper noted. Moreover, the decision was authorized neither by the UN Security Council nor by US Congress.
On Monday, the watchdog group, Protect Democracy, run by former Barack Obama administration lawyers, filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act for all emails, memos and other documents discussing Trump’s legal authority to launch the missile attack.
“We should all agree that in our constitutional democracy, the executive’s ability to attack another country is constrained by the law. Some countries may tolerate a head of state launching a new conflict without offering a clear legal justification, but we should not,” Justin Florence, the group’s legal director and a former Obama administration lawyer, was cited by the newspaper.
In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Nikita Danyuk, deputy head of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Prognosis, the RUDN University, said that the US establishment is engaging a new tactic against Trump.
“There is again public outcry over Donald Trump’s actions, those actions that once won bipartisan support. We’re witnessing a new tactic against Trump. He’s being criticized not for his outrageous moves and provocative rhetoric, but for a foreign policy decisions that was welcomed as successful within the US. This is a very interesting maneuver, which could be used to attack even Trump’s ‘successful’ moves. As a result, he could be once again discredited,” Danyuk pointed out.
According to the expert, in terms of law, the lawsuit is unlikely to succeed with and attract nationwide public attention.
“They achieved what they wanted. Taking into account the fact that the majority of US media outlets are not loyal to Trump, they publish this information, portraying Trump as a despot and an authoritarian president. I think this is a projection of the struggle inside the US establishment which still cannot accept Trump as a legitimate president. But their goal was to spark media buzz, and they did it,” Danyuk concluded.