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 John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves 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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe new war for soft power hegemony Organizing evacuations during a shutdown The Saudi-Russia oil fight is the last thing the economy needs in a pandemic MORE, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperPentagon may treat coronavirus patients aboard Navy hospital ship A defining moment in our medical supply chain crisis Military personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelFormer CIA chief: Not 'right' for Haspel to applaud at State of the Union Schiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Senate Democrat says he is concerned intelligence community is 'bending' Soleimani presentations 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 MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill Democratic senators want probe into change of national stockpile description Overnight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal 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 IngrahamHillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria treatment for coronavirus Trump team fiercely debates how long coronavirus restrictions should stay in place 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 SandersOvernight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden struggles to stay in the spotlight 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) MenendezHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website Democratic senators press Google over privacy of coronavirus screening site Menendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees 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.”