Senator flummoxed by "lame, insulting" White House brief on Soleimani drone strike

Jack Murphy
January 09, 2020 - 10:27 am
Sen. Mike Lee and Trump

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

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An exasperated Sen. Mike Lee emerged from Wednesday's briefing to congress regarding the drone strike that killed Iranian Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last week.

"They had to leave after 75 minutes," Lee said of the briefers who included Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Director of Central Intelligence Gina Haspel, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "While they are in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public. I find that absolutely insane, I think its unacceptable." Lee went on to say that it was the worst briefing he has seen in his nine years in Congress.

Sen. Lee, a Republican from Utah, went on to describe how the briefers never got into any of the details of how Soleimani was tracked down and killed as they refused to discuss operational details with members of Congress sighting sensitivity of the issue. "We're in a SCIF, we're in a secure underground bunker where all electronic devices have to be checked at the door," Lee said.

Most Republicans backed President Trump's decision to kill Soleimani. During his complaints about the briefing to the press, Lee also went out of his way to express his support for President Trump despite being undecided on whether the Soleimani killing was justified and his reservations about the briefing. "I want to say on the onset, I support President Trump. I support and respect the manner in which he has approached his commander in chief powers," he stated.

But the message from the briefers on Iran and Soleimani was that, "We were told we can't have dissension, we can't have division in our ranks or else it sends the wrong signal to the Iranians. I just think that is completely wrong," Lee complained. "After the fact lame briefings like the one we just received aren't adequate."

Sen. Lee asked at what point would the White House come to Congress seeking a declaration of war or a authorization for the use of military force. Lee told the press that one of the briefers responded, "I'm sure we could think of something."

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Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.