Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate 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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic 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 LeahyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge House clears .1 billion Capitol security bill, sending to Biden Senate passes .1 billion Capitol security bill 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 ShanahanSenators introducing bill to penalize Pentagon for failed audits Overnight 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 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 GardnerEx-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms 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 RubioSenate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins MORE (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJim Elroy RischTracy Stone-Manning's confirmation treatment was simply unacceptable — and it must stop The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-Idaho) said he received a briefing from administration officials on Iran but that many of his colleagues are still in the dark.