Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford were on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon briefing lawmakers in the House and Senate about escalating threats from Iran.
"If America is attacked, America needs to be united in responding to protect American interests," Pompeo told Salem radio host Hugh Hewitt before the briefing. "My expectation is that every member of Congress will join in our effort not only to deter Iran from taking action against American interests in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, but be very supportive of this administration when we take acts that are consistent with protecting Americans wherever they’re serving."
The briefing came after Iran moved missiles onto ships in the Persian Gulf, aiming them at U.S. interests in the region. Last week, Pompeo ordered all non-essential staff based at the U.S Embassy in Baghdad to leave Iraq. On Sunday, an explosion took place near the embassy in the Green Zone.
"The Trump Administration’s aim is to stop Iran’s malign activity, restore deterrence, and get the regime to the negotiating table for a real deal. I laid down our 12 very reasonable markers last year; these are expectations of Iranian behavior that we and our allies shared prior to the divisive and misguided nuclear deal. Our aim is to make progress toward a brighter future for this relationship, and for the Iranian people," Pompeo said in prepared remarks for the closed door briefing. "But I want to reiterate that an Iranian attack on U.S. interests will be met with an appropriate response. The Hill should be united with the executive branch on this point. We should never apologize for protecting Americans, and American interests."
"The Trump Administration is trying to roll back Iran’s violent behavior and prevent war. We immediately recognized the Islamic Republic’s true nature; its history of unprovoked violence against us; and how the mullahs behaved during and after the JCPOA negotiations," he continued. "And yet now Democrats don’t want to address Iran’s malign behavior; they want to score political points, not talk seriously about this grave foreign policy challenge."
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who called for clarification on Iran from the White House earlier this week, had this to say after the highly classified briefing.
The threat streams from Iran against American interests are real and severe.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 21, 2019
The Trump administration has shown amazing restraint in the face of escalating aggressions from Iran.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 21, 2019
The Iranian-directed attacks on four ships, sabotaging other nations’ pipelines, and the firing of rockets into the Green Zone in Iraq have not yet led to a military response.
It is clear to me that the Iranians are pushing back against the economic pressure created by the Trump administration.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 21, 2019
The maximum pressure campaign on Iran is working.
I’m confident that if the Iranians harm one American – in Iraq or anywhere else – they will pay a heavy price.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 21, 2019
The Trump administration will respond militarily and in an overwhelming fashion.
The Obama-era policy of Iranian appeasement is over.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 21, 2019
The days of Iran killing Americans – without consequence – is over.
The only way to protect Americans serving overseas is to have their back.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 21, 2019
I am proud President Trump is standing up for those who are serving in harm’s way
Many Democrats have been falsely accusing President Trump and his advisors of "leading the U.S. into war" with Iran while failing to condemn the regime's current and past behavior.