Pence defends withholding Soleimani intel amid Lee, Paul criticism

Vice President Pence defended the Trump administration’s withholding of intelligence it says justified the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani after Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers MORE (R-Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Pelosi names first-ever House whistleblower ombudsman director The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Ky.) called a White House briefing on the matter “insulting.”

In an appearance on NBC's “Today,” the vice president was asked why the administration could not share the intelligence with senators.

Pence defended the administration withholding the evidence as necessary to protect sources and methods, saying “some of the most compelling evidence that Qassem Soleimani was preparing an imminent attack against American forces and American personnel also represents some of the most sensitive intelligence that we have.”

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Pence was then pressed on whether the potential threat to sources and methods still applied to classified briefings, which Pence did not answer, saying “those of us who have seen all the evidence, that saw the evidence in real time, know that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE made the right decision,” adding “America is safer, the world is safer.”

Paul and Lee on Wednesday claimed after a briefing from Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperWithdrawal from Africa could undermine partnership with France Overnight Defense: Seven day 'reduction in violence' starts in Afghanistan | US, Taliban plan to sign peace deal Feb. 29 | Trump says top intel job has four candidates Mulvaney confirms he'd have to take a pay cut to be permanent White House chief of staff MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe problem with Trump's Middle East peace plan India rolls out the red carpet for Trump Limbaugh: Democrats who set up George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq now organizing 'silent coup' against Trump MORE, CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelFormer CIA chief: Not 'right' for Haspel to applaud at State of the Union Schiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Senate Democrat says he is concerned intelligence community is 'bending' Soleimani presentations MORE and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley that the officials warned against supporting a resolution curtailing Trump’s war powers, saying it would “embolden Iran.”

"I find this insulting and demeaning ... to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happens to hold. I find it insulting and demeaning to the Constitution of the United States," Lee said. Both Paul and Lee said they would support the resolution after the briefing.