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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 EsperOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition Brennan takes final shot at Trump: 'I leave his fate to our judicial system, his infamy to history, & his legacy to a trash heap' 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 TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race 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 addresses pandemic but not election during annual turkey pardon Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin Hillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform 'Spotlight' | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract 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 LeeLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Utah), meanwhile, called the briefing “insulting and demeaning,” and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Overnight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses 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 KaineDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Grassley tests positive for coronavirus MORE (D-Va.) to rein in Trump’s military powers. The House approved a similar resolution on Friday.