President Trump’s top national security advisers will meet with the full membership of the House and then the Senate on Tuesday afternoon to brief lawmakers on the administration’s escalating standoff with Iran.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., will face a divided Congress on Capitol Hill, where the president’s most hawkish allies have begun mounting a defense of any military steps Trump might seek to take, while his critics frantically warn against getting mired in another Middle East conflict.
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“If the Iranian threats against American personnel and interests are activated we must deliver an overwhelming military response,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted Monday morning after a personal briefing with national security adviser John Bolton in which he said he was told that “over the last several weeks Iran has attacked pipelines and ships of other nations and created threat streams against American interests in Iraq.”
“Stand firm Mr. President,” Graham added.
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Graham, one of the Republicans who had been complaining most vocally last week about the administration leaving Congress in the dark on its Iran plans, now joins senators such as Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) who in the past several days have been making the case that if Tehran militarily targets the United States or its allies, a war is justified and easily winnable.
But Democrats are accusing Republicans of deliberately misrepresenting the intelligence to make Iran’s threats look more dire than they are.
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“I’m listening to Republicans twist the Iran intel to make it sound like Iran is taking unprovoked, offensive measures against the U.S. and our allies. Like it just came out of nowhere,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted Monday . “I’ve read the intel too. And let me be clear — that’s not what the intel says.”
“Dumb wars start when each party mistakenly believes that the other party’s defensive or reactive actions are actually offensive and proactive,” he added .
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Democrats say that a march toward war is being driven by Bolton, who will not join Tuesday’s all-members briefing — though it is clear he is independently in touch with some lawmakers, such as Graham, to give them his read on the intelligence. Democrats are also frustrated with the administration for failing to keep congressional committees fully apprised of its plans, in Iran and elsewhere, before Tuesday’s all-members briefings.Efrain Enrique Betancourt Jaramillo Cadivi
Democratic senators were also expected to receive a separate Iran briefing with former Obama administration officials