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Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate Georgia DA investigating Trump taps racketeering expert for probe: report GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill MORE (R-S.C.) says he and other lawmakers haven’t been adequately briefed by the Trump administration about the growing threat posed by Iran amid growing tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Graham, the chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and a top ally of President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE's, said senators have been largely kept in the dark as the U.S. sends an aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East.

“No, I feel we haven’t been well informed and I’m writing a letter with Sen. Leahy today to try to get a briefing,” Graham said Wednesday afternoon, referring to Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session COVID-19 relief debate stalls in Senate amid Democratic drama First Black secretary of Senate sworn in MORE (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee.

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“I don’t think it’s fair for us to walk around wondering,” he said, reflecting broader concerns among Senate GOP colleagues about the fast-moving events in the Middle East.

Asked about the threat posed by Iran and a report by The New York Times that acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee Biden Pentagon pick could make up to .7M from leaving Raytheon Lloyd Austin can lead — as a civilian MORE has drawn up a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East, Graham said, “I don’t know.”

“I just know what I read. The president has said it wasn’t true,” he said, pointing to Trump's comments the previous day disputing the report.

But Graham said he’s concerned by the State Department’s decision to partially evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in response to intelligence of possible Iranian-backed threats.

“We’re clearly moving people,” he said. “This is a big deal.”

“We had people there during the height of the war,” Graham said of the embassy in Iraq. “I was there a bunch of time getting rocketed. If we could stay in operation then [during the height of the Iraq War] it must be some kind of real threat.”

Other Republican colleagues share Graham’s concerns.

“There should be more briefings. I think we should have that sooner rather later. I’ve talked to the administration about that,” said Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senators say they expect the administration to brief them next week, but some worry that could be too late.

“My understanding is there will be [a briefing] by early next week but I don’t know where we’re going to be by early next week. I hope I’m wrong, we could be full blown into this thing. It’s a much more urgent situation than I think is being reflected. I’m surprised there isn’t more talk about it,” said Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China MORE (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJim Elroy RischMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' Biden to redirect .4M in aid to Myanmar, sanction key military figures MORE (R-Idaho) said he received a briefing from administration officials on Iran but that many of his colleagues are still in the dark.