House Democrat calls administration's Iran briefing 'sophomoric and utterly unconvincing'

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward Connolly'Liberated' Pelosi bashes Trump — and woos Democratic base Trump's best week ever? Trump set to confront his impeachment foes MORE (D-Va.) said after an administration briefing on Wednesday that he is unconvinced that President Trump's decision to launch the drone strike that killed Iran's top military commander was necessary.

Connolly stressed the urgency for Congress to act to limit the president’s ability to take further military action against Iran.

“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,” Connolly told reporters as he left the briefing. 

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“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. 

Connolly said the administration’s rationale for targeting Gen. Qassem Soleimani wouldn’t “pass a graduate school thesis test” and he was “utterly unpersuaded” that there was new or compelling evidence that showed an imminent threat. 

He added that it’s “absolutely necessary” to repeal the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which he said the administration used to justify the attack on the Iranian general in Baghdad. 

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“The fact that the administration is still citing a 17-year-old AUMF that applied to an entirely different set of circumstances ought to be a cause of concern for all members of Congress,” Connolly said. 

Democrats criticized Trump for the strike and for acting without briefing top congressional members. They claim the attack brought the U.S. closer to a war with Iran, but the administration said it made the U.S. safer. 

Connolly said on Wednesday the threat of retaliation from Iran “has only begun,” citing Tuesday night’s missile attacks against bases housing U.S. personnel in Iraq. He also mentioned the ongoing threat of cyberattacks. 

Iran launched more than a dozen missiles targeting “at least” two Iraqi military bases where U.S. troops and their allies were present, according to the Pentagon. No Americans were killed in the attacks. 

Trump said in an address to the nation on Wednesday that Iran “appears to be standing down” and signaled he was moving toward sanctions against Tehran instead of further military force.