- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2020

President Trump said Thursday that Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his forces “were looking to blow up our embassy” in Iraq before the U.S. killed him, and declared that he doesn’t need congressional approval to make “split-second” decisions to attack America’s foes.

“We took him out. We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “I think it was obvious. And he had more than that particular embassy in mind.”

The U.S. killed Soleimani in a drone strike in Iraq last week, prompting Iran to fire missiles at U.S. military bases in Iraq. House Democrats are planning to vote Thursday to restrict the president’s ability to take military action against Iran, saying the administration hasn’t justified its actions.

The president said he doesn’t need permission to attack America’s enemies.
“I don’t have to [get authorization],” Mr. Trump said. “It would all depend on the circumstance. You have to make a split-second decision sometimes. We had a shot at him, and I took it, and that shot was pinpoint accuracy.”

He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic troops “are trying to defend a monster” by objecting to the U.S. killing of Soleimani.

“When Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to defend him, I think that’s a very bad thing,” he said.Soleimani was in Iraq just as Iran-backed forces were laying siege to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and setting fires to the complex.

Asked about objections by Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, to the administration’s classified briefing about the Soleimani killing, the president said, “I get along great with Mike Lee. I’ve never seen him like that.”

He said he had “calls from numerous senators and congressmen..saying it was the greatest presentation.”

Mr. Trump said the classified information sought by lawmakers about Soleimani “really should remain at a very high level.”

Several Republican lawmakers briefed by administration officials this week said they believe Soleimani was orchestrating imminent attacks on Americans in Iraq.

“We’ve been tracking this, actually for the last few months,” said Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “Many of us drew the conclusion before we went home for Christmas, that something like this was inevitable, as they’ve accelerated and they’ve expanded their aggressive behavior there [and] continue to attack facilities.”

Rep. Mark Walker, North Carolina Republican, said there was intelligence about Iranian-backed forces discussing “potentially another embassy attack.”

“That’s when we felt like it was imminent,” Mr. Walker told reporters. “And that’s why we are supportive of the president striking out.”

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