Mike Lee Says Briefing on Iran Situation Was 'Probably the Worst Briefing I've Seen'


Hours after President Donald Trump addressed Iran’s missile strike on several Iraqi military bases, several members of the president’s national security team briefed lawmakers on the situation.

The briefing covered several topics, including last week’s drone strike on Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani.

But Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), known for his more libertarian views, was not satisfied with the briefing which he called “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen.”

“The briefing lasted only 75-minutes whereupon our briefers left. This, however, is not the biggest problem I have with the briefing. Which I would add 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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“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 appropriateness of further military action against Iran, and that if you do you’ll be emboldening Iran,” Lee continued.

He added that he found that message “insulting and demeaning” to the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to make a formal declaration of war.

Additionally, Lee blasted the briefers for apparently being unable to think of a situation where they would feel the need to ask for Congressional approval for military action.

“My point is, they were asked a number of hypotheticals in which they might have to appropriately come and ask for authorization from Congress. Not once did they say ‘Yes, we need to do it in that circumstance.'”

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Finally, Lee said that the briefing pushed him over the edge to support Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-Va.) war powers resolution.

“That briefing is what changed my mind. That briefing is what brought me on board — together with the amendments that Sen. Kaine agreed to make. I’m now going to support it. I walked in undecided. I walked out decided, specifically because of what happened in that briefing.”

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Not every senator felt the same way about the briefing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) disputed Lee’s characterization of the briefing. Graham added there were concerns about what could happen next but said he didn’t feel that the briefing was insulting.

“They thought that a war powers debate might send the wrong signal to the Iranians,” Graham said, adding, “I think they’re right. They didn’t say you can’t debate.”

“Go debate all you want, I’m going to debate you,” Graham added. “I’m going to let people know that at this moment in time, to play this game with the war powers act, which I think is unconstitutional, is that whether you mean to or not, you’re empowering the enemy.”

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