Trump claims Iranians were plotting to blow up US embassy
WASHINGTON – President Trump said without evidence on Thursday that a senior Iranian commander killed in a US airstrike was plotting to blow up a US embassy.
The president’s unfounded account comes as Democrats demand details of the intelligence underlying the Trump administration’s decision to kill Major General Qassim Suleimani, the leader of the powerful Quds Force of the Guard Corps. Islamic revolution of Iran.
“We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy,” Trump said in remarks to reporters at an unrelated White House event.
It was not clear whether Mr. Trump could have disclosed new details of what the administration called an “imminent” Iranian plot against US interests in the region, or whether he was referring to pro-Iran protesters who stormed the American embassy in Baghdad. last week, a subject he returned to later in his remarks.
Democrats and some Republicans are frustrated by Trump officials’ refusal to reveal more about the intelligence that prompted the targeted assassination of a foreign military official to Mr. Suleimani on January 2.
Earlier Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence defended the classified Capitol Hill briefings that national security officials gave on Wednesday. Several members of Congress called the briefings insufficient and even insulting because of their lack of detail.
“Part of it has to do with what’s called sources and methods,” Pence said on NBC’s “Today” show. “Some of the most compelling evidence that Qassem Soleimani was planning an imminent attack on US forces and US personnel is also some of the most sensitive intelligence we have – it could compromise those sources and methods. “
Mr. Trump’s comments came during a brief exchange with reporters after a White House event on proposed new environmental regulations.
When reporters again questioned Mr. Trump’s allegation of an embassy bombing plot, he referred to the December 31 assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. , which Trump officials say was orchestrated by Mr Suleimani after US airstrikes against an Iranian. militia in Iraq.
Mr Trump said the protesters were smashing windows, “very structurally sound windows” and “these people were going to do very serious damage.” But he did not repeat any claims about a bomb plot, and it was not clear whether he linked that alleged plot to the December 31 assault or whether he suggested that a future attack on the embassy was in preparation.
The White House did not respond to a question about what the president was referring to when he mentioned a potential embassy bombing.
Mr. Trump also cited “other very obvious reasons” for General Suleimani’s strike: “Someone is dead, one of our soldiers is dead, people seriously injured.”
Last month, a rocket attack by an Iranian-backed militia on an Iraqi military base killed an American civilian contractor. The United States responded with deadly airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias, which sparked outrage from pro-Iran protesters who broke into the grounds of the US embassy in Baghdad.
Aides had previously said Mr. Trump was angry at the Iranian attack that killed the American entrepreneur and ignited as he watched television footage of protesters storming the American embassy.
A few days later, Mr. Trump ordered the strike of General Suleimani. “We shot him and we took him, and that shot was very precise and that was the end of a monster,” Mr. Trump said Thursday.