Kerry, Hagel to brief lawmakers on Syria

Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryJohn Kerry channels Yoda in tweetstorm John Kerry goes on tweetstorm as Senate eyes Iran legislation John Kerry's advice to Harvard grads: Learn Russian MORE and Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelLobbying World The US just attacked Syria. So where's Congress? Senators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal MORE will hold an unclassified briefing for lawmakers on Thursday about Syria, according to congressional sources. 

The two cabinet members along with other officials will give lawmakers the latest on U.S. intelligence as the administration works to win congressional support for a military strike against Syria. 

The briefing will be unclassified, congressional aides said, due to difficulties arranging secure telephone lines for lawmakers who are away from Washington on recess. It was initially arranged as a classified briefing.

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. James Winnefeld, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Adviser Susan Rice will also brief lawmakers on the call, according to aides.

The briefing is being held as the Obama administration faces pressure from lawmakers to properly consult with Congress as it considers military intervention.

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More than 100 lawmakers signed a letter to Obama Wednesday demanding that he receive authorization from Congress before taking any military action in Syria.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump aide: Boehner is the disaster Boehner: Tax reform is 'just a bunch of happy talk' Lobbying World MORE (R-Ohio) also wrote to the president Wednesday calling on him to make the case for military action to both Congress and the public.

“I have conferred with the chairmen of the national security committees who have received initial outreach from senior administration officials,” BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump aide: Boehner is the disaster Boehner: Tax reform is 'just a bunch of happy talk' Lobbying World MORE wrote, “and while the outreach has been appreciated, it is apparent from the questions above that the outreach has, to date, not reached the level of substantive consultation.”

Boehner and Obama spoke about Syria by phone on Thursday. 

A spokesman for Boehner said afterward: "It is clear that further dialogue and consultation with Congress, as well as communication with the American public, will be needed."

House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), said on MSNBC Thursday that he wasn't sure whether Thursday's briefing would be "enough."

“I think you have to have a very robust, honest discussion, not just about a detailed unclassified version of what the information is, but also to have a classified discussion with a group of members, again broader than just a few chairmen, so that we can get again, broader buy-in in Congress,” Rogers said.

A House Armed Services Committee aide said that Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) had so far spoken with a senior Defense official about Syria and questioned whether Thursday’s call would be sufficient.

“The kind of substantive consultation the president is required to carry out, in the chairman’s mind, is not one call or two calls — it’s a more extended process than that,” the aide said.

The State Department has said it would share classified information with Congress before making unclassified details available to the public “sometime this week.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that the call was the "latest in a series of robust congressional consultations that everybody from the president on down has been engaged in over the past few days."

He said that the White House had been working to schedule the call for a number of days.

Earnest also said that the White House was still on track to publicly release a report detailing the intelligence assessment linking the Assad regime to the chemical weapons attack, although had not finished preparing the report by early Thursday afternoon.

"I'm not ruling out today," Earnest said at Thursday's White House press briefing.

Earnest said that even without the declassified report, there was "a preponderance of publicly available evidence" to link Assad to the attack.

He said that the publicly available report would be limited out of consideration for "protecting sources and methods." But, Earnest argued, lawmakers who had full access to classified intelligence materials — including Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinThe case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Feinstein: Comey memos 'going to be turned over' MORE (D-Calif.) and Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissGOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race Democrats go for broke in race for Tom Price's seat Spicer: Trump will 'help the team' if needed in Georgia special election MORE (R-Ga.) — were satisfied that the regime was responsible for the deployment of chemical weapons.

— Justin Sink contributed.

— This report was updated at 2:02 p.m. and 3:32 p.m.