Trump administration officials failed to convince many U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday that an imminent threat had justified the killing of a top Iranian military commander, and congressional Democrats scheduled a vote on legislation to rein in the president’s ability to wage war.
(SOUND BITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR FROM FLORIDA MARCO RUBIO, SAYING: "I'll tell you this: I am convinced..." (SOUND BITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE FROM VIRGINIA GERRY CONNOLLY, SAYING: "...utterly unconvincing." Republican and Democratic lawmakers were mostly divided on Wednesday following briefings with Trump administration officials who said an imminent threat had justified President Donald Trump's order to kill top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
Congressional Democrats were not convinced.
(SOUND BITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC SENATOR FROM MARYLAND CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, SAYING: "Incredibly thin on facts." (SOUND BITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA TIM KAINE, SAYING: "A far cry from meeting a standard of imminent threat." (SOUND BITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT CHRIS MURPHY, SAYING: "We did not get information inside that briefing that there was a specific, imminent threat that we were halting through the operation conducted last Thursday night." Many Republicans disagreed.
(SOUND BITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR FROM MISSOURI ROY BLUNT, SAYING: "I thought it was a good briefing." (SOUND BITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR FROM IDAHO JIM RISCH, SAYING: "One of the best briefings I've had..." (SOUND BITE) (English) REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE FROM NORTH CAROLINA MARK MEADOWS SAYING: "...probably the strongest and most decisive briefing that have ever, has ever been conducted..." But not all Republicans were as taken with the classified briefings, which were held by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and other administration officials.
Republican Senator Mike Lee said the briefing was one of the worst he'd ever seen.
(SOUND BITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR FROM UTAH MIKE LEE, SAYING: "I had hoped and expected to receive more information outlining the legal, factual, and moral justification for the attack.
I was left somewhat unsatisfied on that front.
The briefing lasted only 75 minutes whereupon our briefers left.
This, however, is not the biggest problem I have with the briefing, which I would add was probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I've serve in the United States Senate.
What I found so distressing about that briefing was that one of the messages we received from the briefers was do not debate, do not discuss the issue of the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran... 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.
And it's wrong." The senator from Utah also said that because he found the briefing demeaning to the U.S. Constitution, he - along with Republican Senator Rand Paul - would vote for a war powers resolution that Democrats have put forward.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said later on Wednesday that her chamber would vote on a resolution that's intended to limit Trump’s ability to wage war.
The resolution is expected to easily pass the House, but still would face a more difficult time in the Republican-controlled Senate.