A day after saying that the Trump administration’s briefing on the strike that killed top Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani was the “worst briefing” he’s seen, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) attempted to clean up his comments in an interview with Breitbart Thursday.
Lee told Breitbart that he wants to be “very clear” that he supports the administration’s legal and moral justification for the Trump-authorized strike that killed Soleimani last week.
“I want to be very clear, my comments yesterday did not take a position on the appropriateness of the attack that occurred,” Lee said. “They were not condemning that; in fact, I acknowledged upfront that I’m willing to concede that they might well have been legally, morally, justifiable and fully constitutional.”
Lee then said that he believes that the worst briefing he ever experienced was the Obama administration’s briefing on the Benghazi consulate attack in 2012.
“I mentioned yesterday that it was probably the worst briefing I have ever seen on a military issue,” Lee said. “The reason I qualify it that way is that the worst briefing I ever got in that room was on a slightly different issue back in 2012 right after the Benghazi attack, where we were told repeatedly by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was based on a reaction to a video, so, fortunately, this was not that.”
Lee also told Breitbart that the Trump administration officials who held the briefing are “good people,” “hard-working” and “well-intentioned,” despite how he thinks “some of what they said was emblematic of Congress’s willingness to relinquish its war powers, and that’s an issue.”
Earlier Thursday, Lee shared similar sentiments on Fox News. When asked by Fox News anchor Bret Baier for his response to President Trump claiming that the briefing “was the greatest presentation they’d ever had,” Lee said that he had “never challenged the attack on Soleimani and that his concern with Wednesday’s briefing “focused primarily on the fact that moving forward, we were given no indication that the next steps with regard to Iran will involve consultation with and authorization from Congress as is required by the Constitution.”
However, unlike what he said in the Breitbart interview, Lee told Baier that the Trump administration officials who held the briefing Wednesday “didn’t share this President’s view that has been very respectful towards his commander in chief power” and that they “didn’t exhibit the same level of respect and deference and restraint that President Trump has shown.”
“I applaud this President, I support this President,” Lee told Baier. “He’s been fantastic, he’s been unprecedentedly deferential to the American people and restrained in his use of command in chief power more than any other President in my lifetime.”
Watch Lee’s remarks below:
Sen. Mike Lee says he still supports Trump after "worst briefing" on Iran pic.twitter.com/lcb14AaD5d
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) January 9, 2020
Read Lee’s interview with Breitbart here.