The Trump administration has canceled three classified briefings scheduled for lawmakers on the situation with Iran – a move that comes after officials faced criticism for their lack of candor in their last round of briefings.
And the cancellation comes as Senate Democrats claim to have enough support to to pass a war powers resolution aimed at restricting Donald Trump‘s military action against Iran.
The State Department cancelled two briefings that were scheduled for Wednesday, Senate and House aides told CNN. The Pentagon called off a Thursday classified briefing for the House Armed Services Committee, citing scheduling issues.
A classified briefing by administration staff for lawmakers was canceled; lawmakers were critical of last week’s briefing by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper
Lawmakers are raising more questions about Trump’s justification for killing Iranian General Qassem Soleiman
The cancellations come as several lawmakers are still questioning the president’s justification for killing Iranian General Qassem Soleiman, which resulted in Iran taking retaliatory measures, including an airstrike at U.S. targets in Iraq.
A Wednesday briefing was going to focus on security threats to American diplomatic outposts but the topic was changed to embassy security at the request of congressional staff.
President Trump said Soleimani was plotting attacks on four U.S. embassies and that was one of the reasons he ordered him killed.
‘Staff are furious,’ a House aide told Politico. ‘This briefing is required by law every month, and today’s was the most important we’ve had scheduled in a long time. The State Department has given us no explanation whatsoever.’
An aide told CNN the request of topic change was made January 7 and that the law monthly briefings for national security committees in both chambers on threats to embassies.
‘This has not been rescheduled. We don’t know why it was canceled,’ the aide said. ‘Staff is pissed.’
‘They understood that this was a reasonable request,’ the person said.
The briefings were to be conducted by administration staffers and not the principles – unlike last week’s briefings by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other Cabinet officials, which even had some Republicans critical of the lack of information shared with Congress.
Brian Hook, the State Department’s Special Representative for Iran, David Schenker, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Marik String, an official in the State Department’s Office of Legal Advisor were expected to lead one of the briefings.
The cancellations follow the release of House documents showing a series of messages between Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde and former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, appearing to track Marie Yovanovitch, the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The messages has raised many questions and Yovanovitch’s lawyer has called for an investigation.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have announced they have enough votes – including Republicans – to pass a war powers resolution, perhaps as early as next week, to restrict Trump’s military action in Iran.
Lawmakers came out of last week’s administration briefing critical of a lack of candor by Trump administration officials
‘We now have the 51 votes that we need for the version that’s the bipartisan version,’ said Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who introduced the measure, on Tuesday.
Kaine named four Republican senators — Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Todd Young and Susan Collins — who he said will join the 47 Democrats voting for the measure.
The measure is privileged, meaning Republicans who oppose it would not be able to block a vote.
But a vote on it could bump up against Trump’s impeachment trial, which begins on Tuesday.
Should it pass the Senate it would serve as a congressional rebuke of the president.
The House passed its own war powers resolution last week.
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