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 LeeBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Hillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after pushback from Klobuchar, Lee 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 TrumpTrump mocks Murkowski, Cheney election chances Race debate grips Congress US reentry to Paris agreement adds momentum to cities' sustainability efforts 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 EsperThe paradox of US-India relations Overnight Defense: Trump-era land mine policy unchanged amid review | Biden spending outline coming Friday | First lady sets priorities for relaunched military families initiative Biden to keep Trump-era land mine policy in place during review 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. 

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.”