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 TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE later told Fox News host Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamTrump holds White House 'celebration' for impeachment acquittal Fox's Laura Ingraham calls on Romney to resign: 'Ultimate selfish, preening, self-centered' politician Trump asks 'what the hell has happened' to Fox News after interview with Democratic senator 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 EsperPeace deal with US to be signed by months' end, Taliban says US defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk Trump defense chief hits 'predatory' China as rising global threat 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 GiulianiFederal prosecutors weighing new charges that would bring Parnas investigation closer to Giuliani: report Juan Williams: Don't count Biden out Sunday shows - Spotlight shines on Bloomberg, stop and frisk MORE, Trump's personal lawyer, appears to suggest that then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchTrump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim Federal prosecutors advanced Giuliani-linked probe as impeachment concluded: report MORE was under surveillance.

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