Trump says Soleimani was plotting attacks on four US embassies
President Trump said in an interview airing Friday that Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks against four embassies before the U.S. carried out last week’s airstrike that killed the top commander.
“I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies,” Trump told Laura Ingraham during an interview on Fox News that will air in full Friday night. The president also said Soleimani was targeting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, repeating a claim he made on Thursday.
“Don’t the American people have a right to know what specifically was targeted without revealing methods and sources?” Ingraham asked Trump.
“Well, I don’t think so. But we will tell you that probably it was going to be the Embassy in Baghdad,” Trump replied.
Trump’s comments went beyond what senior administration officials have said about the alleged attacks plotted by Soleimani, which they have described as posing an imminent threat to American lives without going into further detail in a purported effort to protect intelligence sources and methods.
Earlier Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a White House press briefing that the Iranian general had been plotting a “large-scale” attack that threatened American facilities, including U.S. embassies and military bases, in the Middle East.
Under questioning from reporters, Pompeo said that the Trump administration didn’t know precisely when or where the attack would occur, but insisted it was imminent.
“We had specific information on an imminent threat and the threat stream included attacks on U.S. embassies. Period, full stop,” Pompeo said.
The administration has come under scrutiny from Democrats over the lack of information provided to justify the airstrike that killed Soleimani.
Officials have pointed both to Soleimani’s destructive actions — he is said to be responsible for hundreds of American deaths in the region over the years — while also referencing plans for future attacks that could result in U.S. casualties in describing last Thursday’s strike as a defensive measure.
Congressional Democrats and two GOP senators have complained that classified briefings on the strike provided by top administration officials were insufficient.
On Thursday, Trump told reporters at the White House that Soleimani was “looking to blow up” the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, later pointing to the violent Iran-backed protests against the embassy before he authorized the drone strike.
During a campaign rally in Ohio on Thursday evening, Trump suggested Soleimani was looking at targeting U.S. embassies but didn’t provide a number of the facilities under threat.
“Soleimani was actively planning new attacks and he was looking very seriously at our embassies and not just the Embassy in Baghdad,” Trump said at the rally in Toledo. “We stopped him and we stopped him quickly and we stopped him cold.”
Brett Samuels contributed.