- President Donald Trump has claimed in the last two days that Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whom the US assassinated in a drone strike last week, was plotting to attack one or more US embassies when he was killed.
- Soleimani’s plans, the president said, necessitated the strike against him and constituted an “imminent threat.”
- But there’s a glaring loophole in that claim.
- Specifically, if Soleimani was planning to attack one or more US embassies and it was evidence of an “imminent threat,” why wasn’t Congress informed about it when administration officials briefed them on the strike this week?
- Several Democratic lawmakers raised that point on Twitter and in television interviews on Friday, saying that Trump administration officials shared no information or intelligence with them during the briefing that indicated Soleimani was planning the embassy attacks as Trump claims.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump made a series of claims this week about what he said were Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s plans to attack US embassies.
Those plans, the president said, necessitated a drone strike against Soleimani because he posed an “imminent threat” to American lives in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.
Trump first raised the point Thursday afternoon.
“We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy,” he told reporters. “We also did it for other reasons that were very obvious. Somebody died, one of our military people died, people were badly wounded just a week before.”
Later that day, he implied Soleimani was planning attacks on more than one US embassy.
“Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad,” the president said at a rally in Ohio on Thursday night. “But we stopped him, and we stopped him quickly, and we stopped him cold.”
On Thursday night, he told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham four embassies were involved in the alleged plot, though he didn’t specify which ones.
—Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 10, 2020
There’s a glaring loophole in these claims: If Soleimani was planning to attack one or more US embassies and it was evidence of an “imminent threat,” why wasn’t Congress informed about it when administration officials briefed them on the strike this week?
Senior officials involved in planning and carrying out the strike have said they can’t divulge more information about what led to the strike, including the underlying intelligence they said supported the measure, to protect sources and methods. Some suggested that Congress can’t be trusted not to leak sensitive information about the operation to the public.
But the president didn’t hesitate to discuss Soleimani’s alleged plans at his rally Thursday night or with Ingraham, a nationally syndicated radio and TV personality, in a clip that aired on Fox News on Friday.
Some lawmakers have also expressed skepticism about the president’s claims.
“Let’s be clear – if there was evidence of imminent attacks on four embassies, the Administration would have said so at our Wednesday briefing,” Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted. “They didn’t.So either Fox News gets higher level briefings than Congress … or … wait for it … there was no such imminent threat.”
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey made a similar point earlier Friday, saying on MSNBC that lawmakers were not given any information or intelligence suggesting Soleimani was planning an embassy attack at this week’s briefing.
Soleimani’s assassination kicked off a series of escalatory actions from both Washington and Tehran that simmered down earlier this week after Iran fired several missiles at US bases in Iraq that resulted in no American casualties. Trump subsequently announced that “all is well” and that the conflict had been de-escalated.
The Trump administration on Friday announced harsh new sanctions on Iran, indicating that tensions between the US and Iran haven’t yet died down — in fact, they may soon flare up again.
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The president’s actions also led to harsh blowback from Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans who expressed concern that Congress had not been consulted or notified prior to the drone strike.
To that end, the House of Representatives on Thursday passed a War Powers Resolution that would drastically curtail the president’s ability to take further military action against Iran. It passed on a largely party-line vote, though eight Democrats voted against it, and three Republicans voted in favor of it.
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