Congressional leaders receive classified Iran briefing

Congressional leaders emerged tight-lipped Thursday from a classified briefing on Iran amid concerns about new tensions in the Gulf escalating to war.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOn The Money: Mnuchin signals officials won’t release Trump tax returns | Trump to hold off on auto tariffs | WH nears deal with Mexico, Canada on metal tariffs | GOP fears trade war fallout for farmers | Warren, regulator spar over Wells Fargo Budget chairs pick former Bush official to head CBO Barr jokes with Pelosi: ‘Did you bring your handcuffs?’ MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters only that she “asked for a classified briefing for all members, but we’ve been asking for that for two weeks.”

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact Trump Jr. reaches deal to testify with Senate Intelligence McConnell: No one tells Burr how to run Intelligence panel MORE (Va.), said that while sensitive information needs to be safeguarded, “more members need to hear the story.”

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But on questions such as whether they were satisfied with the briefing or whether alleged threats from Iran are credible, Pelosi, Warner and the briefing’s other attendees either declined to comment or did not respond to reporters at all.

Thursday’s briefing was given to the so-called Gang of Eight: Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyBush economics director says psychiatrists labeled Trump ‘total narcissist’ GOP launches anti-BDS discharge petition The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – After GOP infighting, Trump Jr. agrees to testify again MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop Republican says Senate unlikely to vote on any election security bills Senate confirms controversial 9th Circuit pick without blue slips Pence, McConnell eulogize Sen. Richard Lugar MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerInfrastructure deal must include child care funds China promised to stop fentanyl traffickers, Congress must hold them to it Schumer urging Pompeo to warn Putin of consequences if Russia interferes in election MORE (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Intel to probe whether lawyers for Trump family interfered in investigation Judge signals swift ruling in Trump lawsuit over Cummings subpoena Twitter launches tool to combat vaccine misinformation MORE (D-Calif.), House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHouse Intel panel subpoenas Barr for full Mueller report, evidence House Intel panel threatens ‘compulsory’ action to force DOJ to produce Mueller files Overnight Health Care: House Dems hold first hearing on ‘Medicare for All’ | Trump urges Dem senator to revive ObamaCare talks | Booming cannabis market puts pressure on FDA MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Alabama abortion bill revives national debate The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – After GOP infighting, Trump Jr. agrees to testify again Trump Jr. reaches deal to testify with Senate Intelligence MORE (R-N.C.) and Warner.

The briefing comes amid growing concern that the Trump administration is on a path to war with Iran.

Citing unspecified threats to U.S. personnel from Iran and its proxy forces, the administration has deployed more military assets to the Middle East and ordered the departure of nonemergency personnel from diplomatic missions in Iraq.

Asked Thursday about whether the United States is going to war with Iran, President TrumpDonald John TrumpNapolitano claims Trump violated separation of powers 3 times in last week Work on surprise medical bills goes into overdrive Trump pardons media tycoon, former GOP leader of California State Assembly MORE said “I hope not.”

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump told acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanNapolitano claims Trump violated separation of powers 3 times in last week Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Air Force No. 2 civilian to take over as acting secretary MORE explicitly that he does not want to go to war with Iran.

Lawmakers have been demanding immediate briefings on the intelligence behind those moves and the Trump administration’s further plans.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischFrustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Overnight Defense: Lawmakers on edge over Iran tensions | Questions rise after State pulls personnel from Iraq | Senators demand briefing | House panel advances 0B Pentagon spending bill | Warren offers plan on climate threats to military Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat MORE (R-Idaho) said Thursday the full Senate is scheduled to be briefed on the issue Tuesday.

A spokesman for Pelosi later confirmed the House will also get an all-members briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier Tuesday, Pelosi warned Trump that only Congress can authorize war with Iran, and that it has not done so.

“The responsibility in the Constitution is for Congress to declare war,” she said. “So I hope that the president’s advisers recognize they have no authorization to go forward in any way.”

Earlier in the week, Trump denied reports that he is preparing to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East, but emphasized he would “absolutely” deploy the service members if he had to.

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