Jan 8, 2020

GOP Sen. Mike Lee calls Soleimani briefing the "worst" he's ever seen

A furious Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) emerged from Wednesday's classified briefing by the Trump administration on the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, calling it "insulting and demeaning" that briefers instructed senators not to debate the appropriateness of further military action against Iran.

"They're appearing before a co-equal branch of government responsible for their funding, for their confirmation, for any approval of any military action they might undertake. They had to leave after 75 minutes, while they were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public. I find that absolutely insane. I think it's unacceptable."
— Mike Lee

Why it matters: Lee said that he entered the briefing "undecided" on whether to vote for a Senate resolution curbing President Trump's military action toward Iran and left the briefing "decided."

  • It's rare to see a Republican senator so harshly rebuke the Trump administration, but Lee — along with fellow libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — did not hold back on condemning officials for suggesting that members of Congress debating military action would further embolden Iran.
  • "They were asked repeatedly, what, if anything, would trigger the need for the administration to come back to Congress for a declaration of war or an Authorization for the Use of Military Force," Lee added. "At one point, I believe one of the briefers said something like, “I’m sure we can think of something.” But they struggled to identify anything."

Go deeper: House to vote to curtail Trump's war powers against Iran

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Thousands of protesters march in Denver, Colorado, on May 30. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

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The big picture: Floyd's fatal run-in with police is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

India extended its nationwide lockdown — one of the longest-running in the world — on Saturday, as deaths and infections rise, per Johns Hopkins. The country also moved to allow restaurants, hotels and churches outside of hotspots to begin reopening.

By the numbers: Nearly 6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 worldwide and over 2.5 million have recovered from the virus. Over 367,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.7 million.

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In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Police officers grapple with protesters in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd spread nationwide on Friday evening and continued into Saturday.

The big picture: Police responded over the weekend in force, in cities ranging from Salt Lake City to Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., Denver and Louisville. Large crowds gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday for the fourth day in a row.