In a tweet yesterday morning, President Trump asserted that the fixation on whether Gen. Qassem Soleimani was planning an “imminent” attack was beside the point.
“The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was “imminent” or not, & was my team in agreement,” Trump tweeted. “The answer to both is a strong YES, but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Soleimani was a clear threat. “We can dance around the maypole on the word ‘imminent,’” Pompeo said in an interview with Bret Baier on Fox. “What we could see was that there was an increasing threat from the activities of Qassem Soleimani, and we know that he was traveling in the region both to Beirut and then to Damascus and on to Baghdad with the intense — intent purpose of delivering a strike, a blow against Americans in the region. We weren’t about to take that risk.”
Pompeo refused to comment on reports that Trump actually signed off on killing Solemani in June, seven months before the airstrike took place.
“I don’t want to talk about the internal deliberations,” Pompeo told Baier, “But it’s been the case that Soleimani — Soleimani has been someone who’s been on the American radar screen for an awfully long time.”
Speaking to reporters before leaving for the College Football Playoff game, Trump insisted the intelligence supporting the strike has been “totally consistent.”
“Here’s what’s been consistent: We killed Soleimani, the No. 1 terrorist in the world by every account. Bad person. Killed a lot of Americans. Killed a lot of people. We killed him.”
Attorney General William Barr also disputed the notion that for Trump to act, he needed specific details of the planned attack.
“I do believe that this concept of imminence is something of a red herring,” Barr said at a news conference Monday. “I think when you’re dealing with a situation where you already have attacks underway … you know there is a campaign that involves repeated attacks on American targets, I don’t think there’s a requirement, frankly, for, you know, knowing the exact time and place of the next attack.”
“And that certainly was the position of the Obama administration when it droned leaders of terrorist organizations,” he added.
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