The Trump administration can’t get its story straight—even by the Trump administration’s crooked standards—on the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Trump waited nearly a week to claim that Soleimani had been planning imminent attacks on U.S. embassies. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he hadn’t seen any such intelligence but generally agreed with Trump that Iran might conceivably target embassies at some point. And now, a report says Trump authorized the killing seven months ago, kinda destroying the “imminent threat” claim.
Esper wasn’t the only top official to try to cover for Trump’s specific four embassies claim without blatantly lying and claiming that actual intelligence pointed to such a plan. According to national security adviser Robert O’Brien, “What the president said is consistent with what we’ve been saying.” As in, got the general “there’s a threat” tone of his war-happy advisers while inventing the details. O’Brien said that, you know, quite possibly Iran “would have hit embassies in at least four countries” at some point—and most likely if Trump had said two or six, O’Brien would have said that that was “consistent with what we’ve been saying.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed that “we had specific information on an imminent threat, and those threats included attacks on U.S. embassies, period, full stop” … except apparently the defense secretary and national security adviser hadn’t seen that specific information, so, sure, guy. We believe you.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican who has been outspokenly critical of the Trump administration’s congressional briefing after Soleimani was killed, said “I didn’t hear anything about that”—“that” being threats to embassies—and that “Several of my colleagues have said the same.”
Because the Trump administration is lying. Donald Trump lied, and his ultimate loyalists are circling around him. And if they can’t quite bring themselves to offer the full lie that they saw intelligence on specific threats to a specific number of embassies, they’re ready and willing to embrace Trump’s lie as … plausible enough.