Mike Lee Slams ‘Un-American’ Iran Intel Briefing, Calls on Congress To Rein In Administration

Tobias Hoonhout

A classified briefing on the intelligence behind Qasem Soleimani’s killing caused Senate Republicans Mike Lee and Rand Paul to excoriate the assessment, while Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio praised the intel.

Lee called the meeting “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issues, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate,” and while he commended Trump for showing “a lot of restraint” in foreign policy, he added that he wanted to speak to the president directly about the lack of clarity in the assessment.

“I went in there hoping to get more specifics as far as the factual, legal, moral justification for what they did,” Lee said. “I’m still undecided on that issue, in part because we never got to the details.”

“It is not acceptable for officials within the executive branch of government — I don’t care whether they’re with the CIA, with the Department of Defense, or otherwise — to come in and tell us that we can’t debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran. It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong. And I hope and expect that they will show more deference to their limited power in the future.”


Paul agreed, and called the administration’s citation of the 2002 authorization of the use of military force in Iraq as justification for Soleimani’s killing “absurd” and an “insult.”

House speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated after the briefing that the House would vote Thursday to abolish the 2002 directive, saying in a statement that “concerns were not addressed by the president’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration’s briefing today.”

Both Lee and Paul confirmed they would support the Iran war-powers resolution proposed by Democratic senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.) — separate from Pelosi — to curtail Trump’s authority.

“That briefing is what brought me on board,” Lee said.

But other Republicans took a markedly different tone.

Florida senator Marco Rubio called the briefing “very compelling.”


Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) voiced his approval, saying “a third-grader could’ve figured this out.”

“I think people have lost their minds about who we’re dealing with,” Graham told reporters. “You don’t need the CIA. You’ve got an embassy being ransacked. You’ve got a contractor killed.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated after mistakenly identifying Senator Rand Paul as Ron Paul. 

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