Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah was furious on Wednesday after a Senate briefing on President Donald Trump’s decision to order an airstrike that killed Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, telling reporters it was “probably the worst briefing on a military issue I’ve seen in nine years I’ve been here.”
Lee said he “walked into that briefing undecided” on whether to support Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine’s War Powers Resolution, which would limit the Trump administration’s ability to take further military action against Iran without congressional authorization.
“That briefing is what changed my mind,” Lee said. “I’m now going to support it.”
Lee, flanked by GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, went on to call the briefing “probably the worst briefing, at least on a military issue, I’ve seen in nine years I’ve been here.”
“Drive-by notification or after-the-fact lame briefings like the one we just received aren’t adequate,” he said.
“I find it insulting, I find it demeaning” to the Senate and the Constitution, the senator added. “It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s wrong,” he said, after noting that the people who briefed senators on Trump’s strike said senators could not debate the merits of the measure.
Lee said he’s personally still “agnostic” on whether the strike on Qasem Soleimani was justified:
“I still haven’t had the questions answered that I came into that briefing expecting to ask. They left after 75 minutes. I understand these are busy people, they’ve got a lot of demands on their time. They are appearing before a coordinate branch of government… responsible for their funding, for their confirmation, for any approval of any military action they might undertake. They had to leave after 75 minutes while they were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public. I find that absolutely insane.”
Sen. Paul said he will also support a War Powers Resolution to block further action against Iran.
“Today, this is Senator Lee and I saying we are not abdicating our duty.”
“Without commenting on content, my reaction to this briefing was it was sophomoric and utterly unconvincing and I believe that more than ever the Congress needs to act to protect that constitutional provisions about war and peace,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters as he left the briefing.
“I believe this administration is after the fact trying to piece together a rationale for its action that was impulsive, reckless and put this country’s security at risk,” he added.
“I was deeply surprised at the lack of information” presented of a “specific, imminent threat,” said Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
“It’s not what I consider to be an imminent threat,” said Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.
“The questions began to get tough, and they walked out,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
“I came away from this briefing really angry,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It raised more questions than it answered.”