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Congressional leaders receive classified Iran briefing

Congressional leaders receive classified Iran briefing
© Aaron Schwartz

Congressional leaders emerged tight-lipped Thursday from a classified briefing on Iran amid concerns about new tensions in the Gulf escalating to war.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiYoung Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' Hillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals 'It's still a BFD': Democrats applaud ruling upholding ObamaCare MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters only that she “asked for a classified briefing for all members, but we’ve been asking for that for two weeks.”

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSanders: Democrats considering trillion spending package Cyber concerns dominate Biden-Putin summit Senate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas MORE (Va.), said that while sensitive information needs to be safeguarded, “more members need to hear the story.”

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But on questions such as whether they were satisfied with the briefing or whether alleged threats from Iran are credible, Pelosi, Warner and the briefing’s other attendees either declined to comment or did not respond to reporters at all.

Thursday’s briefing was given to the so-called Gang of Eight: Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyFive takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Environmental groups urge congressional leaders to leave climate provisions in infrastructure package Pelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell shoots down Manchin's voting compromise Environmental groups urge congressional leaders to leave climate provisions in infrastructure package Loeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFive takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' MORE (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffCyber concerns dominate Biden-Putin summit Senate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin MORE (D-Calif.), House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTech privacy practices under scrutiny after DOJ subpoenas GOP's Stefanik defends Trump DOJ secret subpoenas CNN reporter's phone and email records secretly obtained by Trump administration: report MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? On The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections Bipartisan infrastructure group grows to 21 senators MORE (R-N.C.) and Warner.

The briefing comes amid growing concern that the Trump administration is on a path to war with Iran.

Citing unspecified threats to U.S. personnel from Iran and its proxy forces, the administration has deployed more military assets to the Middle East and ordered the departure of nonemergency personnel from diplomatic missions in Iraq.

Asked Thursday about whether the United States is going to war with Iran, President TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE said “I hope not.”

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump told acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanSenators introducing bill to penalize Pentagon for failed audits Overnight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee Biden Pentagon pick could make up to .7M from leaving Raytheon MORE explicitly that he does not want to go to war with Iran.

Lawmakers have been demanding immediate briefings on the intelligence behind those moves and the Trump administration’s further plans.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJim Elroy RischIran's presidential election puts new pressure on US nuclear talks GOP lawmakers urge Biden to add sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning GOP senators introduce bill to make Iran deal subject to Senate approval MORE (R-Idaho) said Thursday the full Senate is scheduled to be briefed on the issue Tuesday.

A spokesman for Pelosi later confirmed the House will also get an all-members briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier Tuesday, Pelosi warned Trump that only Congress can authorize war with Iran, and that it has not done so.

"The responsibility in the Constitution is for Congress to declare war," she said. "So I hope that the president's advisers recognize they have no authorization to go forward in any way."

Earlier in the week, Trump denied reports that he is preparing to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East, but emphasized he would "absolutely" deploy the service members if he had to.