/GOP Sen. Mike Lee: Iran briefing from Trump administration was insulting and demeaning

GOP Sen. Mike Lee: Iran briefing from Trump administration was insulting and demeaning

WASHINGTON – GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah emerged from the classified briefing with White House administration officials about the airstrike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani breaking ranks from many of his Republican colleagues about the meeting, calling it “insulting and demeaning.”

Flanked by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has been critical since the beginning of the actions towards Iran last week, Lee called the 75-minute closed-door meeting “the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue.”

More:Pelosi: House will vote to limit Trump’s war power amid ‘urgent’ concerns on Iran strategy

Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Mike Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and CIA Director Gina Haspel, met with House members and Senators in a secure location on Capitol Hill Wednesday, just one day after Iran fired missiles at U.S. troops and coalition forces being housed at two bases in Iraq, to provide evidence that the strike on Soleimani was justified and that he posed an imminent threat to American lives.

“What I found so distressing about that briefing was that one of the messages we received from the briefers was, ‘Do not debate. Do not discuss the issue of the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran. And then if you do, you’ll be emboldening Iran,’” Lee told news cameras following the briefing.

“I find this insulting and demeaning to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happens to hold. I find it insulting and demeaning to the Constitution of the United States,” Lee said indignantly.  

He continued to seethe that “They had to leave after 75 minutes while they’re 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.” 

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Lee told reporters that he entered the meeting unsure of whether he would support a war powers resolution that had been introduced by Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine that would require President Donald Trump to seek congressional approval before expanding the conflict with Iran.

“I walked into the briefing undecided. I walked out of the briefing decided,” Lee declared, continuing to reprimand the administration officials’ comments as “un-American” and “unconstitutional.”

“What we were told, over and over again, was, ‘Look, this action was necessary, this was a bad guy, we had to do it,’” Lee said, continuing that he was “unsatisfied” by the justifications.“I’d hoped and expected to receive more information outlining the legal, factual and moral justification for the attack.”

More:Pompeo, Esper briefings on Iran leave Congress bitterly divided over Soleimani strike

“They struggled to identify anything” that would require congressional authorization, Lee stated.

The briefing comes on the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D Calif.,  announced that the House will also vote Thursday on a similar measure that would limit Trump’s ability to wage war with Iran.