Bernie Sanders says Donald Trump 'does not have authority to launch missiles'

Democrat has urged for ‘political solution’

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The Independent US

Top Democrats including Bernie Sanders and Tim Kaine have accused President Donald Trump of lacking the authority to bypass Congress and launch missiles at Syria.

Mr Trump ordered the launch of 59 cruise missiles at a military target in response to Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians and the US’s first direct attack on the country.

Yet Democrats and Republicans have called the move a “mistake” on the Sunday morning round of political talk shows and pointed to planes which are still taking off from the Al Shayrat airbase that was targeted by the US.

“This is a horror show,” said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “Yes we have to get rid of Assad...But we cannot do it unilaterally.”

He said he supported a political solution but said that: “I do not believe the president has the authority to launch missiles”.

He added: “Let’s get some consistency from this President. Let’s get Congress involved in this debate.”

His remarks followed differing views on Syria from top Trump administration insiders the same day.

While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there would be no change in the US stance towards Syria, US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said that “there would be no peace” until Assad is gone.

Former Vice Presidential candidate and Virginia senator Tim Kaine also said on Sunday that the President should have sought approval from Congress.

"We are a nation where you're not supposed to initiate military action, start war, without a plan that's presented to and approved by Congress," he said.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham said Assad was playing the President.

“Here’s what I think Assad is telling Trump by flying from this base: ‘F you.’”

Lindsey Graham says Assad is sending 'F you' message to Donald Trump

Mr Trump has remained adamant that the air strike was necessary to protect the US.

“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” the President said from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

In a letter to Congress, Mr Trump said the US would “take additional action, as necessary and appropriate”.  

He also thanked Congress for their “support”.

“I directed this action in order to degrade the Syrian military's ability to conduct further chemical weapons attacks and to dissuade the Syrian regime from using or proliferating chemical weapons, thereby promoting the stability of the region and averting a worsening of the region's current humanitarian catastrophe,” the letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan read.