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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 LeeCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Key vote for Haaland's confirmation | Update on oil and gas leasing | SEC update on climate-related risk disclosure requirements Haaland on drilling lease moratorium: 'It's not going to be a permanent thing' MORE (R-Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Haley isolated after Trump fallout 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 TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress 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 EsperCORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report Female generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoFive takeaways from CPAC 2021 Pompeo: Release of Khashoggi report by Biden admin 'reckless' Trump wins CPAC straw poll with 55 percent MORE, CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community 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.