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 EsperGOP Foreign Affairs leaders join pushback against potential troop drawdown in Africa Overnight Defense: US military jet crashes in Afghanistan | Rocket attack hits US embassy in Baghdad | Bolton bombshell rocks impeachment trial Overnight Defense: Veterans group seeks Trump apology for comments on brain injuries | Pentagon says dozens of troops suffered traumatic injuries after attack | Trump unveils Space Force logo 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 TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet 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 SchiffTrump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims GOP senator plans to ask about Bidens, whistleblower in impeachment trial Parnas asks court for permission to turn over more evidence to Democrats 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 LeeThe self-fulfilling Iran prophecy No patriotic poll bump for Trump, but Soleimani strike may still help him politically Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it MORE (R-Utah), meanwhile, called the briefing “insulting and demeaning,” and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims Overnight Defense: White House threatens to veto House Iran bills | Dems 'frustrated' after Iran briefing | Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision Foreign Relations Democrats 'deeply frustrated' after Iran briefing 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 KaineOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto House Iran bills | Dems 'frustrated' after Iran briefing | Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision White House Correspondents' Association blasts State for 'punitive action' against NPR Senate Democrat demands State Department reinstate NPR reporter on Pompeo trip MORE (D-Va.) to rein in Trump’s military powers. The House approved a similar resolution on Friday.