Iran Briefings Leave Congress Divided Over Trump’s Intentions, War Powers
House Democrats Tuesday received a closed-door briefing on Iran from former CIA Director John Brennan and former State Department official Wendy Sherman, who negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were present at the classified briefing to House lawmakers.
Democrats have however said that they left the session with more questions than answers. Some Democrats appeared skeptical of the administration’s strategy.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, has canceled a trip to Europe amid U.S. tensions with Iran.
“Everybody is deeply, deeply concerned about Congress getting cut out of what’s transpiring over there, and they weren’t able to give enough assurance that we would be consulted,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. “I think that’s a huge, huge question that’s going unanswered.”
Before the briefings on Capitol Hill, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has suggested to the media that the U.S. military response to Iranian threats has already had an effect.
Shanahan told reporters that the military moves by the United States have given Iran “time to recalculate” and as a result the potential for attacks on Americans is “on hold.”
Democratic lawmakers have been warning that Iran hawks in the Trump administration are laying the groundwork for armed conflict with Tehran.
The warnings began two weeks ago, after National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that U.S. naval ships and bombers were being sent to the region in case of hinted Iranian-backed attacks on American troops, interests, or allies.
Furthermore, the U.S. evacuated non-essential personnel from Iraq amid unspecified threats the administration says are linked to Iran. Iran and tensions in the Persian Gulf as well as President Donald Trump’s tough talk are the subject of competing meetings in the House and Senate, both closed to the public and the press.