US President Donald Trump on Monday strongly defended his decision to kill top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Trump claimed the "fake news media" and Democrats are to blame for the confusion.
"The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn't really matter because of his disgusting past!"
"It's clear now this was an illegal action".
He cited the resumption of lethal military aid to Ukraine for defense against Russia-backed separatists, Trump's withdrawal from an arms control accord with Moscow and tests of a new US intermediate-range cruise missile.
One State Department official told CNN they felt "blindsided" by the statements from the Trump administration about imminent threats to the embassies. Iran eventually retaliated via missile attacks on Iraqi military bases hosting USA troops, but the strikes appeared created to avoid casualties and further escalation.
Donald Trump ordered the strike without seeking the approval of Congress, which is normally required in such cases.
Trump's fellow Republicans have justified the killing by citing Soleimani's history, and accuse Democrats of playing politics.
Attorney General William Barr told reporters on Monday that the White House consulted with his department before the strike.
"I believe there was intelligence of imminent attacks, but I do believe the concept of imminence is something of a red herring", Barr said.
"It's not a surprise that a terrorist leader in the world had been taken out", he says. He accused Trump of expanding war in the Middle East on false pretenses. "So let's not screw it up", McConnell said. However, Amash, many House Democrats and some Republicans in Congress said the White House has failed to produce sufficient evidence to back up the claim. McConnell said he expected debate on it to start "very soon" and pledged to strongly oppose it.
"America now enjoys the greatest position of strength regarding Iran we've ever been in", he said, pointing to the damage done to the Iranian economy by USA sanctions that Trump re-imposed following his withdrawal from the nuclear deal. But on Sunday U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he did not see specific evidence that Iran was planning an attack. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said the administration had the legal authority to order the killing under the 2002 Authorisation for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, which does indeed allow the president to use military force to prevent a "continuing threat" posed by Iraq, but not Iran.
"I don't know who used it first, but it reflects what we saw", Pompeo said. "The president didn't cite a specific piece of evidence".
Asked whether there was specific evidence of embassy plots, he replied, "I didn't see one with regard to four embassies".
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