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Esper: Gang of 8 'did not think' further intelligence on Iranian threat should be shared with Congress

Esper: Gang of 8 'did not think' further intelligence on Iranian threat should be shared with Congress
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Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump administration official Norquist sworn in as acting Pentagon chief Watch Out: Progressives are eyeing the last slice of the budget Biden needs to fill the leadership gaps on Day One MORE said Sunday that the top congressional intelligence committee members did not think that information shared with them about a potential Iranian plot to attack the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad should be shared with other members of Congress. 

Esper’s comments on CBS's "Face the Nation" were in response to President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE’s recent interview with Fox News in which he shared more information than was previously released about what he viewed as a potential Iranian threat that led to his order to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. 

“Why couldn't you share that specific threat with senators in a classified briefing?” host Margaret Brennan asked Esper, in regards to Trump’s interview .

“There was a reference in this exquisite intelligence to an attack on the United States embassy in Baghdad, that information was shared with the Gang of 8,” Esper responded, referring to the top members of Congress. “All that exceptional intelligence was shared with the Gang of 8, not the broader membership of Congress.” 

Esper said that he was not in the room briefing the top intelligence lawmakers, but said he spoke to one of the briefers afterward. 

“His assessment was most, if not all the members, thought the intelligence was persuasive and that the Gang of 8 did not think it should be released to the broader members of Congress,” Esper said. 

He did not, however, confirm that the intelligence suggested that Iran was plotting to attack four embassies, as Trump said in the Fox News interview. He said he shared the president’s view, but said that he didn’t see intelligence to support that. 

At least one member of the so-called Gang of 8 did not find the briefing persuasive, as Esper said he was told most felt. 

House Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGlenn Greenwald warns against media censorship amid concerns over domestic terrorism Biden to keep Wray as FBI director Biden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis MORE (D-Calif.) said shortly after a briefing in the wake of the drone strike that killed Soleimani that he had not seen intelligence suggesting that killing the commander would prevent the planning of future attacks against the U.S. 

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief The Hill's 12:30 Report: Next steps in the Trump impeachment MORE (R-Utah), meanwhile, called the briefing “insulting and demeaning,” and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate to vote Tuesday on Biden's secretary of State pick Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) said it was “less than satisfying.” 

Both Republicans said they would be supporting a resolution introduced by Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineHawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators Lawmakers move to oust extremists from military Trump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 MORE (D-Va.) to rein in Trump’s military powers. The House approved a similar resolution on Friday.