Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday insisted there is "compelling" intelligence showing that assassinated Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American forces in Iraq—but the White House can't reveal that evidence to the public or members of Congress, even in a highly classified and secure setting.
In two separate interviews Thursday morning, Pence urged the viewing public to take the administration's claims about the U.S. assassination of Soleimani at face value.
"Every time we were told, 'Absolutely, there was an imminent threat you should just see the information, it's really imminent.' And nothing was shown to us."
—Rep. Mark Pocan
"I can assure your viewers that those of us that have seen all the evidence—that saw the evidence in real time—know that President Trump made the right decision to take Qasem Soleimani off the battlefield," the vice president said on NBC's "Today Show."
Pence repeated that claim on "Fox & Friends," saying—conveniently for the administration—that "the most compelling intelligence to support the fact that there was an imminent attack being developed by Qasem Soleimani is frankly too sensitive to share broadly."
"It would compromise what we call 'sources and methods,'" Pence said. "But I want your viewers to understand that that information was brought to the president and I couldn't be more proud to serve alongside a president when faced with intelligence that Qasem Soleimani was preparing to launch attacks against American military and civilian personnel, President Donald Trump acted, he took him out."
Mike Pence urges public to blindly trust Trump: "To protect sources & methods we're simply not able to share with every member of Congress the intelligence that supported the president's decision ... [but] I can assure your viewers that there was a threat of an imminent attack." pic.twitter.com/r5DnB5U7Uh
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 9, 2020
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Pence's remarks came after members of Congress from both parties voiced outrage over a classified intelligence briefing Wednesday in which, according to lawmakers in attendance, Trump administration officials failed to offer any evidence justifying the assassination of Soleimani, which pushed the U.S. and Iran to the precipice of all-out war.
"Every time we were told, 'Absolutely, there was an imminent threat you should just see the information, it's really imminent.' And nothing was shown to us," Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters following the House briefing. "Over and over and over the question was asked. And nothing more was given to us about this."
Here’s the unclassified version of what Trump sent Congress after the hit on Suleimani.
From all we’ve seen, including the redacted parts here and the briefing, the facts do not show an imminent threat.
We must pass a bill making clear Trump can’t start a war without a vote. pic.twitter.com/mUnkLwsph1
— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) January 9, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said only 15 of 97 senators who attended the Senate briefing were permitted to ask questions.
"There were so many important questions that they did not answer," Schumer said at a news conference. "As the questions began to get tough, they walked out. I've asked for a commitment that they all come back within a week; we have not gotten that commitment."