Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike 10 days ago.
In that time, the administration has tried to justify the attack through a number of reasons, most notably that the leader, largely considered Iran’s “number two” only behind the Ayatollah himself, was planning an “imminent” attack on United States’ interests, including possibly four U.S. embassies in the region.
But that argument has fallen apart in various ways. For example: Defense Secretary Mark Esper, while defending the president’s rationale and saying he believed Trump, said in a television interview over the weekend he hadn’t himself seen such evidence, according to prior reporting from HillReporter.com.
Regarding such justifications, Esper said, “I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies.”
On Monday morning, Trump seemed to abandon all pretext about the justifications needing to be made at all. In a tweet on the issue, Trump maintained that Soleimani’s threat was imminent, despite “Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners” seemingly, in the president’s mind, working to determine that it wasn’t. “But it doesn’t really matter,” Trump added, “because of [Soleimani’s] horrible past!”
The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was “imminent” or not, & was my team in agreement. The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2020
While a number of Democrats and other observers have noted that Soleimani’s track record does indeed make him a “bad actor” in the region and beyond, they have also noted that Trump didn’t seem to take notice of the consequences or repercussions that such an attack may have. Indeed, Iran responded to Soleimani’s assassination by sending a ballistic missile attack days later on two U.S. military bases in Iraq.
Americans overall are wary of Trump’s strategy when it comes to his dealings with Iran. Only a quarter of Americans feel safer because of the attack ordered by the president, with a majority reporting they feel less safe because of it, according to recent polling. And 56 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s recent interactions with Tehran.