Senate

Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat

Sen. Lindsey Graham (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 Trump’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 Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee.{mosads}

“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 Shanahan 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 Gardner (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 Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said he received a briefing from administration officials on Iran but that many of his colleagues are still in the dark.

Tags Cory Gardner Donald Trump Jim Risch Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Patrick Leahy Patrick Shanahan US-Iran
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