Fox’s Wallace presses O’Brien on contradiction between Trump threat claims, briefing
Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday grilled White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien on President Trump’s claim that the U.S. killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani to avert an imminent attack on four U.S. embassies, which lawmakers say was never mentioned in a briefing by representatives of the Trump administration.
“It does seem to be a contradiction. He’s telling Laura Ingraham [about imminent attacks], but in a 75-minute classified briefing, your top national security people never mentioned this to members of Congress. Why not?” Wallace asked O’Brien on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I wasn’t at the briefing, and I don’t know how the Q&A went back and forth. Sometimes it depends on the questions that were asked or how they were phrased,” O’Brien said.
“It’s always difficult, even with the exquisite intelligence that we have, to know exactly what the targets are, but it’s certainly consistent with the intelligence to assume that they would have hit embassies in at least four countries,” he added.
Wallace also asked O’Brien if Iranian actions in recent months had raised any doubts about the effectiveness of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
“I think the maximum pressure campaign is working. It’s demonstrable that it’s working. The Iranian economy has contracted by at least 10 percent. We haven’t seen that with a modern economy in many, many years,” O’Brien responded.
Members of Congress say the Iranian threat to blow up multiple U.S. embassies was not mentioned in the intel briefing. But the President says there were threats to four embassies. Plus, is the Trump administration’s strategy working? Robert O’Brien reacts. #FNS pic.twitter.com/hqIMScY2Tk
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) January 12, 2020
“Iran is being choked off. Iran is going to have no choice but to come to the table,” he added.
Wallace also questioned O’Brien on Trump’s claims that Congress’s Gang of Eight was not briefed before the killing of Soleimani because House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) would have leaked it to the media, asking him if there had ever been a case of congressional Democrats leaking sensitive national security information to the press.
O’Brien declined to give any such examples, instead citing former President Obama’s lack of briefing ahead of the killings of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda-affiliated cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.