GOP lawmaker says some Trump officials contradicting Pompeo on Iran and al Qaeda

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a member on the House Armed Services Committee, told Hill.TV on Thursday that some White House officials are contradicting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claims over Iran’s ties to al Qaeda.

Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April that Iran’s connections to al Qaeda are “very real.” Critics argue that the administration is trying to build a case that the administration can bypass Congress and invoke the 2001 war authorization for military action against Iran amid rising tensions over attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

“Obviously, Mike Pompeo … has access to a lot more intelligence than I do, but I have not seen intel that would justify utilizing the 2001 Global War on Terror Authorization use [of] military force against Iran,” Gaetz said during an interview on “Rising.”

“When Secretary Pompeo has presented information there have been other people in the administration that contradict him, that don’t agree with the viewpoint he takes regarding the connection between al Qaeda and Iran,” he continued.

When pressed further on the identity of the White House officials who have been contradicting Pompeo, Gaetz declined to reveal their names, citing the information was considered sensitive information.

“When I hear the secretary of state illuminate one set of facts and when I hear other intelligence officers, for example, question the connection between al-Qaeda and Iran that would access the 2001 AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force], it certainly gives me great cause for concern,” he said. 

He added that Congress has a deciding role when it comes to military action abroad.

“That’s why Congress exists to declare war,” Gaetz said. “We need to get the information that he believes justifies utilizing that rather old authorization for this new challenge.”

The Florida congressman went on to cast down on whether President Trump would support an invention in Iran after the nation downed a U.S. drone.

“The president understands that the United States cannot be backed into a corner, and the United States must always preserve the ability to defend ourselves and our allies,” Gaetz said.

“But President Trump also understands that we cannot always bear the costs in dollars and in the blood of American patriots to go and resolve every global conflict,” he added.

Gaetz’s comments come after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone on Wednesday night.

Both sides have since disputed the circumstances surrounding the incident.

While Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it shot down the drone over Iranian airspace, the U.S. said it was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz in a freedom of navigation mission.

Trump said Iran “made a very big mistake,” but acknowledged that it might have been unintentional.

“I have a feeling that it was a mistake made by somebody who shouldn’t have been doing something that they did,” Trump told reporters Oval Office during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.“I find it hard to believe it was intentional if you want to know the truth.”

—Tess Bonn 

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