Trump's justification for Suleimani killing unravels after his defense secretary appears on TV
President Donald J. Trump listens to a reporter’s question after his announcement of the proposed changes to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Since the targeted killing of the Iranian general Qassim Suleimani by the US, the Trump administration has been on the defense. According to Aaron Blake writing for The Washington Post, one of the administration's justifications for carrying out the attack just fell apart.


President Trump has claimed that Soleimani was plotting to  “blow up” the U.S. embassy in Baghdad as well as "four" other embassies, but according to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper speaking to CBS News, the claim of four embassies being targeted wasn't based on an intelligence analysis; it was just something Trump "believed" to be true.

Esper confirmed that there was intelligence to support the claim that Soleimani was targeting the embassy in Baghdad and that intelligence was "shared with the Gang of Eight, not the broader membership of the Congress" -- a claim that was somewhat contradicted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told NBC News that the information was indeed shared with Congress. According to Blake, therein lies the contradiction.

"...Esper now says he hasn’t seen intelligence on the threat to multiple embassies, whereas Pompeo said the 'specific information' about imminent threats included threats to those embassies," Blake writes, adding that "even if we’re to accept that Pompeo was speaking loosely and the intelligence was really just about the one U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Esper said that information wasn’t shared with 'the broader membership of the Congress,' but only with the Gang of Eight. Pompeo, in contrast, said 'we did' when asked if the information about attacks on embassies was shared in that wider briefing. He later deflected when asked to re-confirm, but he did confirm."

Read Blake full analysis over at The Washington Post.