Adding more to the ever evolving rationale for the Jan.3 Qassem Soleimani killing which has brought the Middle East to the brink of a new major war, President Trump told Republic donors Friday night that the IRGC Quds force chief was “saying bad things” about the U.S. before his death.
High-dollar donors were gathered for a fundraiser at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, where Trump offered a play-by-play of sorts surrounding the decision-making behind the admittedly bold and risky move to strike the elite Iranian military leader via drone as he passed through Baghdad's international airport. Soleimani was “saying bad things about our country” prior to the US taking action, Trump described of his decision.
"How much of this shit do we have to listen to?" Trump was quoted as saying in audio of the event obtained by CNN. "How much are we going to listen to?" The president continued, suggesting that Soleimani's anti-American invectives were ultimately a convincing enough reason to sway Trump toward issuing the final order.
Trump further admitted the killing "shook up the world" given that from the perspective of Iran and its allies "He was supposed to be invincible".
However, like with prior official statements surrounding the controversial military operation, which subsequently triggered a move in Iraqi parliament to boot American forces from the country, no specific evidence was offered that Soleimani was an "imminent" threat to US national security in the region. Previously contradictory statements have come out of the administration saying US embassies in the region were under threat of bombing.
Describing that the drone strike took out "two for the price of one" — in reference to slain Iraqi Shia paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who had been at the airport to greet Soleimani, Trump gave a more detailed accounting than ever before of proceedings in the 'situation room' (which had been set up at Mar-a-Lago) that night.
According to CNN's summary of the new details recounted in the speech:
He went on to recount listening to military officials as they watched the strike from "cameras that are miles in the sky."
"They're together sir," Trump recalled the military officials saying. "Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds. No emotion. '2 minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They're in the car, they're in an armored vehicle. Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. 30 seconds. 10, 9, 8 ...' "
"Then all of a sudden, boom," he went on. "'They're gone, sir. Cutting off.' "
"I said, where is this guy?" Trump continued. "That was the last I heard from him."
During these latest remarks Trump spoke of Soleimani as a "noted terrorist" who "was down on our list" and "was supposed to be in his country" before he landed in Iraq that fateful night.
However, during the night of boasting the president predictably avoided the question of what's next in terms of US relations with its uneasy Middle East ally. Washington now finds itself in the awkward and increasingly precarious situation of being at the center of popular Iraqi anger and wrath, while also wanting to 'stay the course' in the country to "curtail Iran".
It goes without saying the Soleimani killing has set off a chain of events which are entirely unpredictable and possibly disastrous for Americans in the region, which could lead to a another significant military conflict and quagmire in the region.