Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Graham announces hearing on police use of force after George Floyd killing In a new cold war with China, America may need to befriend Russia 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 John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points 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 LeahyHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  MORE (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January 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 Scott GardnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation McConnell: Next coronavirus bill will be final COVID-19 package Democrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA 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 RubioSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Trump administration designates B of PPP funds for community lenders The Memo: Trump's Scarborough tweets unsettle his allies MORE (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischHillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal MORE (R-Idaho) said he received a briefing from administration officials on Iran but that many of his colleagues are still in the dark.