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Congress receives closed briefings on Iranian threats to U.S. interests

Lauren Meier The Washington TimesMay 21, 2019

The House and Senate on Tuesday will receive separate, closed briefings on the crisis with Iran and the unspecified threats to U.S. interests that led to the deployment of military forces to the region and withdrawal of nonessential American diplomats from Iraq in recent days.

Lawmakers, many of whom have expressed skepticism of the administration’s case, will be briefed this afternoon on Capitol Hill by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, sources tell The Washington Times.

Although the officials have remained tight-lipped on details of the threats, the latest escalation of tensions was reportedly triggered by U.S. intelligence that showed Tehran-backed militias in Iraq moving rockets to locations that could hit bases where American troops are positioned in the nation.

The briefings come at a contentious moment on Capitol Hill as support for the administration’s case against Iran and the intelligence evidence behind it has broken down at times along largely partisan lines.

Rep. Andy Kim, New Jersey Democrat and member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday he will be looking to understand the White House’s strategy and goals in Tuesday’s briefing.

“We’ve got to make certain that the efforts right now are focused entirely on protecting Americans,” he said in an appearance on CNN, “and is not something that is [White House National Security Adviser] John Bolton leading ahead and pushing his agenda upon the American people.”

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