Pence says sharing intel with Congress could 'compromise' sources

Vice President Mike Pence responded Thursday to lawmakers, including Republicans, who lamented the lack of information shared by the Trump administration during classified congressional briefings on the killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, saying the intelligence was too sensitive to share.

Speaking with NBC's "TODAY," Pence told Savannah Guthrie that they could not share with Congress some of the "most compelling" intelligence behind the administration's decision to kill Soleimani because doing so "could compromise sources and methods."

Pence added that "those of us" who were made aware of the intelligence "in real time know President Trump made the right decision." He added that Soleimani "was planning imminent attacks against American forces."

In killing Soleimani, leader of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Trump administration said it launched the attack because of intelligence that showed Soleimani was planning "imminent" attacks on U.S. personnel. But the administration has yet to make public the evidence behind that assertion and, according to Democratic and two Republican senators, did not detail that intelligence within a classified setting on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, called the administration's briefing of Congress "probably the worst briefing I've seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I've served in the United States Senate."

"I find this insulting and demeaning," Lee added, saying he plans to vote in favor of a war powers resolution from Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. "That briefing changed my mind."

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence listens to Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela while delivering a joint message at the Presidential Palace in Panama City, Panama, August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Lemos
Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela (L) and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence deliver a joint message at the Presidential Palace in Panama City, Panama, August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Lemos
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Soleimani's death came days after protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad. The Defense Department said Soleimani approved attacks on the embassy compound in Baghdad and orchestrated attacks on U.S.-led coalition bases in Iraq.

"Soleimani directed the recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that badly wounded four service members and killed one American, and he orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad," Trump said in a Wednesday speech. "In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him. Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood. He should have been terminated long ago."

Asked if an "imminent threat" is gone, Pence said Thursday that "the threat of Soleimani's leadership is gone."

"We are ready for any eventuality, including the ongoing threat from Iranian-backed militias" in Iraq, Pence said, adding that Trump does not seek regime change in Iran but a "change" in the behavior of its government.

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