GOP senator says Iran briefing so 'insulting' he'll vote to curb Trump


Utah Sen. Mike Lee said the Trump administration's briefing on the strike that killed an Iranian general was the worst he's attended in his nine years serving in the Senate.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah emerged Wednesday afternoon from an all-senators briefing on the targeted airstrike on Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani so irate that he is now willing to curb Donald Trump's war powers.

Lee, who like most Republicans supports Trump on nearly every issue, said that the administration effectively told senators in that briefing not to question the rationale for the attack that killed Soleimani, which struck him as shocking.

"It's un-American, it's unconstitutional, and it's wrong," Lee said of the notion that the Senate would not debate the rationale for such a military strike.

He said the message Trump administration officials sent to the lawmakers was to "run along and be good little boys and girls and not debate."

"I find this insulting and demeaning," he added. "Not personally, but to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happens to hold. I find it insulting and I find it demeaning to the Constitution of the United States to which we've all sworn an oath."

Ultimately, Lee said the briefing was "the worst briefing I've seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I've served in the United States Senate," and that he now backs a resolution being introduced by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine (VA) that would curtail Trump's war powers.

The House plans to vote on a similar war powers resolution on Thursday.

Members of the House were also briefed this week on the airstrike, which targeted Soleimani's convoy as it departed Baghdad International Airport in Iraq, and Democratic lawmakers emerged from the classified conversation similarly irate, saying that they did not see any justification for the strike, which threatened to incite further violent conflict in the region.

"It was sophomoric and utterly unconvincing," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) told reporters afterward, adding, "I believe more than ever that Congress needs to act to protect the Constitutional provisions about war and peace."

Others briefed this week were less incensed by the meeting.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who previously opposed Trump but has since fallen in line, said the briefing was "compelling."

"Natl Security officials gave a compelling briefing to Senators just now," Rubio tweeted. "They answered every important question. Anyone who walks out & says they aren’t convinced action against #Soleimani was justified is either never going to be convinced or just oppose everything Trump does."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.