Tags: Donald Trump | Iran | Trump Administration | trump | soleiman | iran | bolton

Officials: Trump Authorized Soleimani's Death in June

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is shown with the American flag in the background.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 13 January 2020 08:24 AM

President Donald Trump last June authorized killing Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani after Iran shot down a U.S. drone, but only if action was taken that resulted in the death of an American, according to current and former senior administration officials.

Trump's directive came under the condition that he would have the final sign-off on any operation to kill the Iranian military leader, reports NBC News, and came after then-national security adviser John Bolton urged the president to retaliate for the drone downing, said unnamed officials.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also wanted an operation to kill Soleimani, reports NBC.

"There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time," one senior official said, noting that it was "some time ago" that killing Soleimani was included on a list of responses to Iran's aggression.

Trump in June rejected his key officials' ideas, saying that his red line would be if Iran killed an American.

However, Soleimani had been tracked for years, senior officials said. After Trump was sworn in, Pompeo — Trump's first CIA director — urged the president to be more aggressive toward Soleimani.

The topic of killing Soleimani also came up in 2017 when Trump's then-national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, was having discussions with other administraion officials. The general's death was included as an element of the president's maximum pressure campaign on Iran, but a former senior administration official said it was "not something that was thought of as a first move."

Trump finally approved the Soleimani kill order after Iranian-backed militia members stormed the U.S. embassy in Baghdad starting Dec. 31. The multi-day assault took place after the U.S. conducted airstrikes on militia sites in Iraq and Syria following the death of an American contractor at an Iraqi base.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper had presented response options to the president that included killing Soleimani. Officials said Esper presented both sides of such an operation but favored killing the general.

Meanwhile, Trump said last week that Soleimani was killed because intelligence showed imminent threats, including attacks on "four embassies."

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President Donald Trump last June authorized killing Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani after Iran shot down a U.S. drone, but only if action was taken that resulted in the death of an American, according to current and former senior administration officials.
trump, soleiman, iran, bolton, esper, pompeo
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2020-24-13
Monday, 13 January 2020 08:24 AM
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