Trump ordered Suleimani killing to shore up impeachment support from hawkish GOP senators: report
President Donald Trump discusses current military operations with Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command Commander, at MacDill, AFB, FL, Feb. 6, 2017. (DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released)

President Donald Trump has reportedly been telling associates his order to assassinate Iranian general Qassim Suleimani was related to his pending Senate impeachment trial.

The Trump administration has justified the order by claiming Suleimani was plotting an unspecified, but "imminent" attack on U.S. interests, but the president has privately admitted that the airstrike was related to his impeachment, reported the Wall Street Journal.

"Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said," the newspaper reported.

White House officials told the Journal that advisers disagreed whether the order was wise, but they decided to go along with the plan after they said intelligence forecast Iranian-backed attacks on U.S. military personnel in the Middle East.

They ultimately went along with Trump's plan once intelligence showed Suleimani would be traveling near Baghdad International Airport, where they felt he could be targeted without harming Iraqi civilians in an area where the U.S. already controls the airspace.

Republicans -- including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who long has advocated military action against Iran -- have largely backed the president's decision.

“The important point that’s been established is that Iran is once again scared of the United States,” Cotton said.