Lee Says He Didn’t Hear About Soleimani Threat To Attack Four US Embassies In Briefing

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kav... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was called back to testify about claims by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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January 12, 2020 12:53 p.m.

A few days after attempting to clean up his “worst briefing” comment regarding the Trump administration’s briefing on the strike that killed top Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) seems to have added to the mess.

On Friday, President Trump said that he was justified in authorizing the strike that killed Soleimani because he had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies — a claim that is at odds with senior officials in his administration.

During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday morning, Lee reiterated how “we didn’t receive very much information that wasn’t already available through public media sources.”

“This is one of the things that’s very frustrating,” Lee said. “When something like this happens, when events are unfolding quickly, events that will have a profound impact on national security and military strategy, Congress does need to know about it, in part so we can evaluate the scope of our authority to act or choose not to act.  We didn’t get that. And that was disappointing.”

When Tapper asked Lee whether Trump’s claim that there was a threat against four U.S. embassies was brought up during last week’s briefing, Lee said he “didn’t hear anything about that” and that “several of my colleagues have said the same.”

“So, that was news to me. It certainly wasn’t something that I recall being raised in the classified briefing,” Lee said. “Well, look, I’m not sure exactly what he’s trying to say there. I don’t recall being told, look, there were four embassies. I’m sure there was a mention of at least one embassy in that briefing, because there had been an attack on one of our embassies in the days leading up to General Soleimani’s killing.”

Lee was then quick to bring up his talking point of issuing “a statement within a few hours of the attack on General Soleimani” that “was a good development from the standpoint of the security of the American people” because Americans are “safer as a result of the fact that he’s dead.”

 When pressed by Tapper about whether he believes Soleimani posed an “imminent” threat, which Trump administration officials have said regarding what prompted the strike that killed the top Iranian military official, Lee dodged the question and appeared to place more blame on the briefers.

Look, I have not yet been able to ascertain really specific details as to the imminence of the attack. Again, we weren’t provided that the other day. We were given somewhat general statements,” Lee said. “And I believe that the briefers and the President believe that they had a basis for concluding that there was an imminent attack. I don’t doubt that. It’s just frustrating to be told that and not get the details behind it.”

Watch Lee’s remarks on CNN below:

Lee also echoed similar sentiments during appearances on CBS’ “Face the Nation” later Sunday morning, saying that Trump’s claim that four threats were under threat from Iran should have been shared beyond “the Gang of Eight.”

Watch Lee’s remarks on CBS below:

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