President Donald Trump defended his decision to order the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, saying the Quds Force general was plotting to “blow up” the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
In a Thursday White House appearance, Trump spoke to reporters about what led him to make the “split second” decision to order the strike on Soleimani. According to Washington Times, Trump also argued that he does not need Congressional approval to carry out such strikes.
“We took him out. We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy,” Trump said. “I think it was obvious. And he had more than that particular embassy in mind.”
Trump proceeded to criticize moves in the Democrat controlled House of Representatives, to limit Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran.
“I don’t have to [get authorization],” Trump said. “It would all depend on the circumstance. You have to make a split-second decision sometimes. We had a shot at him, and I took it, and that shot was pinpoint accuracy.”
“When Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to defend him, I think that’s a very bad thing,” he continued.
Trump’s latest remarks come just one day after he briefed lawmakers about the decisions that led up to the strike on Soleimani.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, has reportedly expressed disappointment with the briefing on the strike against Soleimani and called it an “unmitigated disaster.”
Sen. Lee to NPR: “I literally find it difficult to imagine how my friend Marco [Rubio], who is smart, who listens carefully, who cares about these things, how he could emerge from that meeting at say that it was good. It was terrible. It was an unmitigated disaster.”
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) January 9, 2020
When asked about Lee’s objections, Trump indicated some classified information surrounding the strike on Soleimani “should remain at a very high level.”
Members of a pro-Iranian Shia militia in Iraq were also killed alongside Soleimani, when he was travelling from the Baghdad International Airport.
Supporters of those same militia groups were reportedly involved in attacks on the Baghdad embassy, that saw demonstrators smash down fortified doors and set fires around the embassy compound. The attacks on the embassy took place just two days before the airstrike that killed Soleimani.
Those militia groups were also the targets of prior U.S. airstrikes in retaliation to deadly rocket attacks. 30 rockets fired by the pro-Iranian Kata’ib Hizbollah militia reportedly killed a U.S. citizen and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).