GOP Senator said the 'problem' is with briefers, not Trump

GOP Senator said the 'problem' is with briefers, not Trump
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it Sens. Kaine, Lee: 'We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress authorizes it' Overnight Defense: War powers fight runs into impeachment | Kaine has 51 votes for Iran resolution | Trump plans to divert .2B from Pentagon to border wall MORE (R-Utah) said Sunday his concerns with a briefing on the Trump administration’s decision to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani are with the briefers and not with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE

Lee, who called last week’s Iran briefing “insulting and demeaning,” said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the first time he heard about a potential Iranian plot to attack four U.S. embassies was during Trump’s interview with Fox News. 

“Do you have a problem with learning that on television?” host Margaret Brennan asked. 

“Yes, but the problem there is not with the president the problem is with those who were briefing us,” Lee responded. 

“Those who were briefings us, I believe, would have done a different job under the light of day, had television cameras been there, than they did in private where his boss couldn't see what they were saying,” he added. 

“They were not helpful and they did not reflect well on the presidents great restraint that he's shown.”

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall Overnight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon MORE said in an interview earlier on “Face the Nation” that he shared Trump’s view that planning was underway to attack four embassies, but said he did not see intelligence that supported the comments. 

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Esper also said “there was a reference in this exquisite intelligence to an attack on the United States embassy in Baghdad,” that was shared with the so-called Gang of 8 but not the broader members of Congress. 

Lee said that information should have been shared in the briefing with all lawmakers. 

“It’s important to remember that the Gang of 8 does not equal Congress,” he said. “I understand Secretary Esper’s point, I understand that not every piece of information can or programmatically should be shared with all 535 members of Congress but … notification to eight people is not the same as notification to Congress.” 

“In order to know and understand where one power ends and one beings,” Lee said, noting the Constitutional duties of the president and congress in regards to military action, “in any context we need to have a certain amount of information and an adequate amount of information was not shared with us.”