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 TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign 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 PompeoTrump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid MORE, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Dems raise pressure on Esper to block border wall funds | Trump impeachment trial begins in Senate | Day one dominated by fight over rules House Dems express 'deepening concern' over plans to take .2B from Pentagon for border wall Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Senate Democrat says he is concerned intelligence community is 'bending' Soleimani presentations House chairman: Pompeo won't testify at Iran hearing Tuesday 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 MarkeyParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial 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 IngrahamGiuliani says he was 'misled' by Parnas Bill Kristol on McSally calling CNN reporter a liberal hack: 'I guess I'm liberal' McSally dismisses calls to apologize to CNN's Raju for 'liberal hack' comment: 'Called it like it is' 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 SandersSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' 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) MenendezMedia's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle Dem senators say Iran threat to embassies not mentioned in intelligence briefing Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers 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.”