MSNBC's Wallace Calls GOP Senator Breaking With Trump on Iran After Briefing A 'Huge Deal,' Says They're Usually 'Zombies'

MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace expressed disbelief Wednesday that GOP Senator Mike Lee would go against the Trump administration in criticizing the intelligence briefing on the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

"This is a huge deal. That guy right there, Senator Lee, he's a Republican," said Wallace. "The Republicans in the Senate are by and large zombies, walking along as Donald Trump obliterates things like truth, the rule of law and respect for our institutions."

Wallace made the comments during a segment of an MSNBC panel discussion that began with a video clip showing Lee speaking after the briefing.

"[The briefing] was probably the worst briefing I've seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I've served on the United States Senate," Lee told reporters.

Lee said that his main point of contention was not the intelligence information itself, although he was less than convinced by the evidence. The Utah Republican said he was undecided on the issue because the briefers "refused" to tell lawmakers details, claiming the information was "sensitive," despite the classified meeting being held in an underground bunker for officials who were authorized to hear the details.

"I hoped and expected to receive more information outlining the legal, factual and moral justification for the attack," Lee said. "I was left somewhat unsatisfied on that front."

Lee was particularly upset by the suggestion that lawmakers should not debate the merits of Trump using force against Iran, or question whether the president has the authority to use force without congressional approval.

"What I found so distressing about that briefing was that one of the messages we received from the briefers was 'do not debate, do not discuss the issue of the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran, and if you do you'll be emboldening Iran,'" said Lee. "I find this insulting and demeaning."

The senator also called the administration justifying Friday's attack by citing a 2002 authorization for military force in Iraq an "insult."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also strongly disapproved of Trump's actions concerning Iran and denounced the briefing. Lee's remarks were less expected, and Wallace suggested they represented an unprecedented Republican rebuke of Trump.

"He just left a briefing where he was a little peeved that the party's respect for truth, the rule of law and congressional debate and institutions has been obliterated," Wallace said. "I don't think I've seen anything like that in the Trump presidency to date."

Wallace was surprised that Lee would describe the briefing given by high level Trump officials as "un-American," while suggesting that Congress would likely have more to say about the issue.

"He called them the briefers. I just want to reiterate, this was the Secretary of State, the head of the CIA, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs [of Staff]. [Lee] said they delivered the worst briefing," said Wallace. "They told him that if they're going to debate war powers authority for Congress, they would endanger America. I would be flabbergasted at this point if there aren't congressional hearings."

Nicolle Wallace
MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace previously served as White House Communications Director during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Glamour/Getty
MSNBC's Wallace Calls GOP Senator Breaking With Trump on Iran After Briefing A 'Huge Deal,' Says They're Usually 'Zombies' | News