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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks 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 WarnerHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks DOJ plans to show Senate Intel less-redacted Mueller report, filing shows 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 Owen McCarthyRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan House Intelligence enjoys breakthrough with Justice Department Schiff blasts Trump's 'un-American' order to intel agencies to cooperate with Barr probe MORE (D-Calif.), House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHouse Intelligence enjoys breakthrough with Justice Department House Intel postpones enforcement action after DOJ offer to share some Mueller files Roger Stone considers suing to discover if he was spied on by FBI MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Trump Jr. slams Republican committee chairman: 'Too weak to stand up to the Democrats' DOJ plans to show Senate Intel less-redacted Mueller report, filing shows 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 John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE said “I hope not.”

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump told acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Trump defense chief: US may send more troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran 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 RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info 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.