State Department cancels two classified congressional briefings on Iran, embassy security

State Department cancels two classified congressional briefings on Iran, embassy security
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The State Department’s cancellation of two classified congressional briefings to address embassy security and Iran policy sparked lawmakers’ ire in Wednesday, according to Politico.

“This briefing is required by law every month, and today's was the most important we've had scheduled in a long time," a House aide told the publication. "The State Department has given us no explanation whatsoever."

Several senior Foggy Bottom officials — including Brian Hook, special envoy for Iran, and David Schenker, assistant secretary of State for the Middle East — were scheduled to brief the Senate Foreign Relations Committee prior to the cancellation, Politico reported, citing a Senate aide.

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Initially the embassy security briefing was to address conditions in the East African nation of Burundi, but the topic was broadened to general facility security amid U.S./Iran tensions following the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike.

The White House initially claimed the strike was in response to an unspecified imminent threat posed by Soleimani, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE later told Fox News host Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamSean Hannity and Lou Dobbs to be deposed in Seth Rich lawsuit: report NYC living statue shows Trump desecrating graves of war dead, COVID-19 victims American Airlines will allow employees to wear Black Lives Matter pins MORE that Soleimani was plotting attacks on four U.S. embassies, which contradicted a briefing that administration officials gave lawmakers in the aftermath of the strike. Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTop admiral: 'No condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' Overnight Defense: Trump hosts Israel, UAE, Bahrain for historic signing l Air Force reveals it secretly built and flew new fighter jet l Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' Oldest living US World War II veteran turns 111 MORE on Sunday conceded that he had not seen intelligence showing an imminent embassy attack.

Staffers had hoped to ask for clarification on the changing explanations in the meeting, according to Politico, as well as receive a global threat assessment for U.S diplomats.

The briefing was also to be the first since House Democrats released communications in which Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGrand jury adds additional counts against Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and and Igor Fruman Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates Giuliani criticizes NYC leadership: 'They're killing this city' MORE, Trump's personal lawyer, appears to suggest that then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchGrand jury adds additional counts against Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and and Igor Fruman Strzok: Trump behaving like an authoritarian Powell backs Biden at convention as Democrats rip Trump on security MORE was under surveillance.

The Hill has reached out to the State Department for comment.