Senator Lindsey Graham

By Amir Taghati

Republican United States Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday that top U.S. administration officials told senators in a briefing the recent attacks on shipping and a pipeline in the Middle East was directed by the Iranian regime.

“They explained to us how the Iranian threat streams were different than in the past, that the attack on the ships and the pipeline was coordinated and directed by the Iranian government, the ayatollah,” Senator Graham told reporters.

U.S. officials who briefed Congress about Iran on Tuesday sought to convince lawmakers that President Donald Trump’s administration wants to deter Tehran’s aggression, not attack the regime, members of Congress said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford and Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan held a classified briefing for the full House of Representatives.

The administration officials held a similar briefing, also behind closed doors, for the full Senate later on Tuesday.

“I hope they’re tamping down (the rhetoric). They tried to give that impression,” Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters after the classified briefing.

“There is no intention to go to war in the region. This is a deterrent operation to stop Iran’s escalation and aggression,” Representative Mike McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House foreign affairs panel, told reporters.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney said the action taken by the administration “is totally appropriate” and sends a message that “if you attack our people, there will be a response.”

Romney characterized it as defensive in nature and meant to deter the Iranian regime from “malign” actions.

Based in part on wire reports