WASHINGTON — House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) isn’t taking President Trump’s claim that top Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani was planning to attack four U.S. embassies lightly.
In an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that aired Friday, Trump said that he was driven to authorize the strike that killed Soleimani because the top Iranian military official had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies — a claim that is at odds with senior officials in his administration.
During an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning, Schiff said that Trump’s assertion that U.S. embassies were under threat by Iran shows that “he is fudging the intelligence.”
“When you hear the President on Fox, he is fudging the intelligence. And when you hear the secretary say ‘that wasn’t what the intelligence said, that’s my personal belief,’ he is fudging,” Schiff said.
Schiff added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also “fudging” on CBS last week when he claimed that intelligence analysis shows that killing Soleimani “would improve our security.”
“That is also fudging — that is not an intelligence conclusion,” Schiff said. “That is Pompeo’s personal opinion.”
When asked if he’s saying that the Trump administration is lying, Schiff responded that “you could certainly put it that way, but frankly I think what they’re doing is they are overstating and exaggerating what the intelligence shows.”
Schiff also had a response to Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s interview on CBS earlier Monday morning — where he said that he didn’t believe President Trump “embellished” the imminence of the threat because “the bottom line is we had exquisite intelligence that could only be shared with the Gang of Eight” — which he thinks is “just plain wrong.”
“I don’t quibble with it. I think it’s just plain wrong,” Schiff said. “There was no discussion in the Gang of Eight briefings that these are the four embassies being targeted, we have exquisite intelligence that shows these specific targets.”
Schiff added that he doesn’t recall the Trump administration’s briefing on the Soleimani strike last week mentioning the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
“The briefing was much more along the lines of something that Secretary Pompeo admitted the other day when he said we don’t know precisely where and we don’t know precisely when,” Schiff said. “That was much more of the nature of the briefing that we got.”
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