President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his use of the term “mission accomplished” to describe Friday night’s missile strike in Syria.
“The Syrian raid was so perfectly carried out, with such precision, that the only way the Fake News Media could demean was by my use of the term ‘Mission Accomplished,’” he tweeted Sunday morning. “I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great Military term, it should be brought back. Use often!”
On Saturday, Trump celebrated the success of the strike on three targets in Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in a Damascus suburb. The strike was conducted in coordination with the United Kingdom and France.
“A perfectly executed strike last night,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”
Republican President George W. Bush famously stood in front of a banner emblazoned with the phrase “Mission Accomplished” as he spoke aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, to mark the end of “major combat operations” in Iraq after just over a month of fighting.
The war in Iraq dragged on for years to come, American casualties piled up, and the “Mission Accomplished” banner became a punch line.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Maine Independent Sen. Angus King said “it’s impossible to say at this point” whether the United States’ mission in Syria has been accomplished.
“I think it’s very difficult to say ‘mission accomplished’ if the mission is to deter the use of chemical weapons,” he said. “We hope that will be the case, but we did a strike a year ago for that same purpose and it was deemed a success, but the chemical weapons have continued to be used.”
Democratic lawmakers also called out Trump after he announced the strike for not going to Congress for approval of the military action.
“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.
Trump said Friday that the US is “prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
The Pentagon repeated Saturday that the President has the authority under the Constitution to defend US interests, but what happens next is up to the Assad regime and Russia.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi and Chris Cillizza contributed to this report.