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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 TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden 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 PompeoBiden faces challenges, opportunities in Middle East O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Israeli military instructed to prepare for Trump strike on Iran: report MORE, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperActing Defense secretary makes surprise trip to Somalia Overnight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelA strong, committed intelligence community is part of America's good fortune Women set to take key roles in Biden administration Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns 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. 
 
Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Biden rolls out national security team Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (D-Del.), during an interview with CNN, said administration officials did not provide evidence of a plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. 
 
"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 MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally 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: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Fox's Laura Ingraham says Biden will be inaugurated: 'This constitutes living in reality' The evolution of cable TV news — after Donald Trump 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 SandersIn defense of incrementalism: A call for radical realism Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality Trump will soon be out of office — but polarization isn't going anywhere 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) MenendezDemocrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Trump appointee sparks bipartisan furor for politicizing media agency 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.”