“[Sec. Pompeo] wasn’t at the same briefing that I was in. I did not hear what he just said at that press conference [during our briefing]” “I don’t know what the Secretary is talking about. I stayed for the whole briefing, even after I got to ask my questions. I stayed there even as they left, because they abruptly ended the briefing. I didn’t hear then what he just said.”
NEWARK – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, responded live on MSNBC to a press conference by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday morning. While announcing new sanctions against Iran, Secretary Pompeo claimed he had provided Congress all the intelligence needed to prove the Administration’s claim of an imminent threat justifying President Trump’s approval of an airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
On the Administration’s briefing for Senators:
“I just heard Secretary Pompeo’s remarks and I can tell you he wasn’t at the same briefing that I was in. I did not hear what he just said at that press conference [during our briefing]. I went in and asked three specific questions. Number one, what was the specific intelligence that led you to believe there was an imminent threat? Two, what was the nature of the threat, i.e. the targets? And number three, what was the specific intelligence that would lead you to believe that eliminating Soleimani alone would eliminate the threat? I didn’t get the answer to any of those questions. So, I don’t know what the Secretary is talking about. I stayed for the whole briefing, even after I got to ask my questions. I stayed there even as they left, because they abruptly ended the briefing. I didn’t hear then what he just said.”
On the Administration’s claims of an imminent threat:
“Well certainly, all I can say is they keep suggesting there is an imminent threat. But when you press them on the question of immanency, there is no clear definition of what they consider imminent. I think this is a case where one ultimately molds the intelligence that exist to fit what you want to do. And this is why we press so hard, and this is why so many members—on both sides of the aisle—walked out disaffected by the briefing. Because for those of us who were around—as I was, in the House of Representatives—during the Iraq War debate, and do you due diligence and found out there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, no clear and present danger, no imminent threat to the United States by Saddam Hussein. He was a bad guy, just like Soleimani was a bad guy… but it wasn’t a question of those three issues, imminency, weapons of mass destruction. But the bottom line is, we cannot have another ‘weapons of mass destruction moment.’ And that’s why members were unhappy with the briefing that they got.”