• Sen. Paul said using the 2002 authorization to justify the drone strike that killed Soleimani is "absurd" and an "insult"
  • Sen. Lee found "insulting" and "demeaning" the White House's warning Congress would embolden Iran if it restricted Trump's powers
  • The House on Thursday will vote on a resolution forcing Trump to end hostilities against Iran unless he gets specific authorization from Congress

An enraged Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), a long-time opponent of U.S. overseas military involvement, on Wednesday furiously criticized the Trump administration's closed-door debriefing that sought to justify the murder of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani, and oppose Democrat-sponsored legislation that would clip Trump's war-making powers.

Lee left the hourlong closed-door briefing by Department of Defense and White House officials incensed. He faced the TV news cameras to unload his anger and disappointment at the "lame" briefing. Lee said administration officials warned Congress will "embolden" Iran if lawmakers debated Trump's war powers.

"I find it insulting; I find it demeaning" to the Senate and the Constitution, said Lee about this warning. "It's un-American, it's unconstitutional, and it's wrong!"

Lee told media he "walked into that briefing undecided" on whether to support a war-powers resolution advocated by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Kaine's resolution will limit Trump's ability to take further military action against Iran without congressional authorization. A similar resolution was filed in the House by House majority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

"That briefing is what changed my mind," said Lee. "I'm now going to support it."

“I came out completely decided," said Lee. "I was convinced completely by the briefers that I must support the resolution. The briefers told us a number of things that I found upsetting and disappointing and frankly disrespectful not just to us, personally -- that doesn't matter -- but to the Constitution itself.”

He blasted the briefing as "probably the worst briefing, at least on a military issue, I've seen in nine years I've been here. Drive-by notification or after-the-fact lame briefings like the one we just received aren't adequate."

Lee also said it was “insane” and “unacceptable” secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other Trump officials stayed for only a short time and repeatedly dodged questions from the senators.

"They had to leave after 75 minutes, while they’re 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," fumed Lee.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Reuters

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a libertarian like Lee, said he found the briefing "less than satisfying." He also assailed the administration for using the 2002 war authorization as the basis for murdering Soleimani. By doing so, Trump confirmed it wasn’t an “imminent threat” from Soleimani that led to his assassination.

"I see no way in the world you could logically argue that an authorization to have war with Saddam Hussein has anything to do with having war with people currently in Iraq," said Paul.

He added that using the 2002 authorization to justify the drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3 was "absurd" and an "insult."

Both Republican senators were undecided on Kaine's resolution before the briefing. They announced afterward they now support the measure. Democrats need four GOP votes to pass the resolution checking Trump's authority.

"Today, this is Sen. Lee and I saying we are not abdicating our duty," said Paul standing beside Lee.

The briefing was held as the House votes on a resolution Thursday that will force Trump to end hostilities against Iran unless he gets specific authorization from Congress.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley briefed both the House and Senate on Wednesday.