Graham, Leahy request briefing on decision to yank personnel from Iraq

Graham, Leahy request briefing on decision to yank personnel from Iraq
© Greg Nash
Top members of a Senate panel with oversight of the State Department are requesting Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Pentagon waiting for Saudi assessment on attack | Defense bill talks begin | Border fight takes centerstage | Pentagon finalizes .5B in wall contracts | US withholds Afghan aid citing corruption House Armed Services panel gets classified briefing on Saudi attacks US withholds 0M in Afghan aid citing corruption MORE brief senators on the decision to pull nonemergency personnel from Iraq. 
 
 
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"We ask that you provide a briefing to the Senate as soon as possible on the details of the ordered departure, the specific threat reporting that led to this decision and any potential security requirements that may be necessary for addressing the department's concerns," they wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill. 
 
The letter comes as several senators are clamoring for the administration to provide a full-Senate briefing amid escalating tensions with Iran. 
 
In addition to the State Department's decision to yank nonemergency personnel from Iraq, The New York Times reported earlier this week that the Pentagon has presented a plan to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks U.S. forces. Trump dismissed the report but then added, "Would I do that? Absolutely."
 
Graham told reporters on Wednesday that he was in the dark, beyond press reporting, about what was driving the administration's actions on Iran and that he intended to request a briefing. 
 
"Removing personnel from within the embassies and the consults is clearly a serious move by the State Department. They feel the threat, and I would urge the State Department and DoD [Department of Defense] to come down here and explain to us what's going on," Graham told reporters. 
 
He added that he has "no idea what the threat stream is beyond what I read in the paper, and I think there are a lot of people in my shoes that are going to support standing up to Iran but we need to understand what we're doing." 
 
Graham told reporters on Thursday that he hadn't gotten an update from the administration but that he and Leahy had sent the letter formally requesting the briefing. 
 
The administration on Thursday afternoon is scheduled to brief the Gang of Eight, which is comprised of the leaders of both parties in each chamber of Congress as well as the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. 
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) has also called for acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford to testify publicly before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
 
"At this moment, the only thing that is abundantly clear about the administration's Iran policy is its lack of clarity and the lack of consultation with Congress and with the American people," Schumer said Thursday. "Congress has not been fully informed about the intelligence."