Dem senators say Iran threat to embassies not mentioned in intelligence briefing

Several Democratic senators say the administration did not discuss an alleged threat that Iran was planning to "blow up" a U.S. Embassy during a closed-door briefing this week. 
 
President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE, during a press conference on Thursday, said that Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed last week by a U.S. airstrike, was "looking to blow up our embassy." 
 
Democrats, however, appeared caught off guard by Trump's allegation, noting it did not come up during a briefing with top administration officials including Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPence to deliver keynote at fundraising banquet for South Carolina-based pregnancy center Russia suggests military deployments to Cuba, Venezuela an option The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Winter is here for Democrats MORE, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back Former defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelNew book says Trump allies pushed DoD to overturn election Three key behind-the-scenes figures in Jan. 6 probe Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections MORE
 
 
"That's news to me based on sitting through that hearing. ... I sat through that hearing, I listened very carefully, I would have definitely known if anybody said that," he said. 
 
 
"It's striking that that additional specific detail is now being offered up by President Trump. ... For that to be released today in a public setting, and not to have been shared with, at least in the setting that I was in yesterday for an hour and a half, with virtually all of the Senate is pretty striking," he added. 
 
Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Overnight Health Care — White House boosts mask availability Senate Democrats call for investigation into reported price gouging for COVID-19 tests MORE (D-Mass.) told MSNBC, "No, we did not hear about blowing up the embassy ... in that briefing, and I sat through it from beginning to end."
 
Trump has repeatedly doubled down on his claim Soleimani was plotting attacks against U.S. embassies.  
 
Trump told a crowd of supporters during a rally in Ohio on Thursday night that “Soleimani was actively planning new attacks and he was looking very seriously at our embassies and not just the embassy in Baghdad." 
 
He also told Fox News's Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamLaura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 Fox News tops ratings for coverage on Jan. 6 anniversary events Division reigns over Jan. 6 anniversary MORE, in an interview set to air on Friday, that Soleimani was planning attacks against four embassies.
 
Trump's comments come after Democrats emerged from closed-door briefings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday unconvinced by the administration's argument that they were preventing an "imminent" threat by killing Soleimani — an act that brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war.
 
Pompeo backed up the president during a press conference on Friday, telling reporters that Soleimani was planning “large-scale” attacks on embassies, though he acknowledged that U.S. officials did not know the exact time or place of a potential attack.
 
He also said that they discussed with lawmakers an imminent threat to U.S. embassies, though he declined to go into detail on Friday about the conversation.
 
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFilibuster becomes new litmus test for Democrats Gallego says he's been approached about challenging Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (I-Vt.), who is running for president, said in a statement that the administration offered "no evidence" during the closed-door briefing with all senators that backed up their claim that Soleimani was killed to prevent an "imminent" threat.
 
"Trump justified the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by claiming that it was necessary to prevent 'imminent' attacks on U.S. forces, but his administration has offered no evidence to back that claim up, even in a classified setting. Then he claimed that there were plans to attack U.S. embassies, again offering no evidence," Sanders said. 
 
Asked about Pompeo's comments, Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDems block Cruz's Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Differences remain between NATO, Russia Senate Democrats unveil bill sanctioning Russia over Ukraine MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also told CNN, "I can tell you he wasn’t at the same briefing that I was in."
 
"I don’t know what the secretary is talking about. I stayed for the whole briefing, even after I got to ask my questions," Menendez added. "I stayed there even as they left, because they abruptly ended the briefing. I didn’t hear then what he just said.”