WSJ: Trump Assassinated Iran’s General To Shore Up Acquittal Support In Senate
President Donald Trump’s decision to order the strike that killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani was influenced in part by pressure from Republican lawmakers whose support Trump needs in his upcoming impeachment trial, people familiar with his thinking told The Wall Street Journal.
Trump ordered the strike on Soleimani last week, based on intelligence that the general was plotting attacks against American diplomats and U.S. troops in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.
The Journal reported that administration officials initially were not unified on an appropriate response to the intelligence, nor whether the information was “as clear-cut and alarming as the White House has said.”
While Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo all backed Trump’s decision to go forward with the strike, other administration officials were not clued in to the proposed action beforehand.
Esper, Milley, O'Brien and Pompeo presented Trump with a team that "was cohesive and less inclined than its predecessors to push back against the president’s wishes, according to administration officials and others consulted by the White House."
Some officials said the group was also "less likely to consult in advance with other administration, Pentagon or State Department officials, congressional leaders or foreign allies" — effectively offering Trump the team of 'yes men' he seems to prefer.
“Some high-ranking officials who ordinarily would be consulted in advance—and leaned on to later explain it publicly—said they learned of the action from news reports,” the Journal reported.
It was after the strike had taken place and Soleimani was dead that Trump told associates he considered GOP support in the Senate in his calculation.
The president faces two articles of impeachment from the House, one for abuse of power and the other for obstructing Congress, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to send them to the Senate for trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated his intention to quickly acquit Trump once the Senate trial begins, but the president apparently felt the need to short up support among other Republican senators ahead of the trial.
So far, Iran’s response to the attack has been even-handed, involving missile strikes on two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops. Those attacks appear to have deliberately avoided American casualties, and at present, it appears tensions between Washington and Tehran have pulled back.