MURPHY, DEMOCRATIC SENATORS REQUEST CLASSIFIED BRIEFING ON EVIDENCE UNDERLYING “IMMINENT ATTACKS” ON U.S. EMBASSIES

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday led eight Democratic senators in requesting a briefing from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the specific evidence underlying public claims made by President Trump and U.S. State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo that former Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on multiple U.S. embassies. The administration used this justification to avoid congressional authorization ahead of the strike. Defense Secretary Mark Esper later said that he had not seen specific evidence of imminent threats to four U.S. embassies, as Trump had claimed, and no evidence of specific imminent threats to our embassies was shared at the all senators briefing last Wednesday with Secretary Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley.

“On at least three separate occasions last Friday, President Trump alleged that former Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was involved in actively targeting multiple U.S. embassies,” the members wrote. “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also stated on Friday that, ‘We had specific information on an imminent threat and that threat stream included attacks on U.S. embassies. Period. Full stop.’”

The members continued: “There was no mention of any of this classified evidence during the All Senators Briefing last Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman Mark Milley, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel. Furthermore, on Sunday Secretary Esper said President Trump ‘didn't cite a specific piece of evidence’ regarding an imminent attack on four embassies and that Secretary Esper ‘didn’t see’ that evidence.”

“It is vital for the American public to know if intelligence is being manipulated or inaccurately represented by their government to justify an assassination of a foreign official,” the members concluded.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

The full text of the letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire can be found here and below.

January 14, 2020

The Honorable Joseph Maguire

Acting Director of National Intelligence

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Washington, DC 20511

Dear Acting Director Maguire:

We write to request a classified briefing by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the specific evidence underlying public statements by President Trump and Secretary Pompeo that former Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on multiple United States Embassies.

On at least three separate occasions last Friday, President Trump alleged that former Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was involved in actively targeting multiple U.S. Embassies. First, President Trump stated on Fox News on Friday that, “we will tell you that probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad.” Pressed further President Trump stated, “I can reveal that I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies.” Later in the day in an interview with WTVG-TV President Trump stated, “Plus, he was going after — in our opinion, our very intelligent opinion, he was going after our embassies, and things could have happened.”  Then on Friday evening at a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, President Trump stated, “Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies and not just the embassy in Baghdad.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also stated on Friday that, “We had specific information on an imminent threat and that threat stream included attacks on U.S. embassies. Period. Full stop.” When later asked what he meant by imminent, Secretary Pompeo responded: “It was going to happen.” Furthermore, Secretary Pompeo stated that “members of Congress who want to go access this same intelligence can see that very same intelligence that will reflect what I’ve described to you and what the president said last night.”

There was no mention of any of this classified evidence during the All Senators Briefing last Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman Mark Milley, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel. Furthermore, on Sunday Secretary Esper said President Trump “didn't cite a specific piece of evidence” regarding an imminent attack on four embassies and that Secretary Esper “didn’t see” that evidence. Secretary Esper appeared to call into doubt that there was any credible evidence, stating that, “what the President said was he believed that it probably and could have been attacks against additional embassies.” 

It is vital for the American public to know if intelligence is being manipulated or inaccurately represented by their government to justify an assassination of a foreign official.  We thank you for your continued service to our country and look forward to you holding this classified briefing no later than the end of this week.

Sincerely,

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