The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 09, 2020 1:00 am

Briefings leave many lawmakers doubtful

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration made its case on Capitol Hill for killing a powerful Iranian general, but Democrats – and a handful of Republicans – said Wednesday's classified briefings were short on details and left them wondering about the president's next steps in the volatile Mideast.

Democrats said that by not disclosing many details of the threat that prompted the U.S. to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, President Donald Trump is asking the public to trust the very intelligence reports he has often disparaged.

Top Trump administration officials have repeatedly stressed that the undisclosed intelligence about imminent threats required action – that the president would have been negligent not to strike Iran.

But Democrats want more information about what led Trump to kill Soleimani.

“Trust us. That's really what it all boils down to,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said after a classified briefing top administration officials gave members of the House.

“But I'm not sure that 'trust me' is a satisfactory answer for me,” Engel said.

In contrast, Sen. Jim Risch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the Senate's meeting “one of the best briefings” he's had as a member of Congress. He said the information was “crystal clear.”

Some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing the administration's presentations.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said it was “probably the worst briefing I've seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I've served in the United States Senate.”

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