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 EsperWhite House: Trump to use 'federal assets' in response to violent protests Overnight Defense: Esper, Milley part of 'command center' for response to protests over George Floyd killing | Several West Point cadets test positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump commencement speech | UN report says Taliban, al Qaeda not breaking ties 'Small number' of West Point cadets test positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump commencement address 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 John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police 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 SchiffFlynn urged Russian diplomat to have 'reciprocal' response to Obama sanctions, new transcripts show The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers 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 LeeHillicon Valley: Facebook employees speak up against content decisions | Trump's social media executive order on weak legal ground | Order divides conservatives The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US GOP deeply divided over Trump's social media crackdown MORE (R-Utah), meanwhile, called the briefing “insulting and demeaning,” and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDemocratic senator to offer amendment halting 'military weaponry' given to police Second senator tests positive for coronavirus antibodies Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks 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 KaineGeorge Floyd's death ramps up the pressure on Biden for a black VP Overnight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE (D-Va.) to rein in Trump’s military powers. The House approved a similar resolution on Friday.