Trump: I was pressured to kill Soleimani by GOP senators whose votes I'll need at my trial soon
Donald Trump's decision to launch a military strike killing Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was influenced by pressure from Republican senators who will play a key role in Trump's impeachment trial, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate," the Journal reported Thursday.
The Trump administration has publicly claimed a variety of reasons for launching the early January strike, but none of those have included a political calculation on the part of Trump.
Several administration officials claimed there was an "imminent threat" from Soleimani, but there has been bipartisan skepticism on that claim from members of Congress who have been briefed on the matter.
On Thursday night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on Fox News to admit,"We don't know precisely when, and we don't know precisely where" such an attack was supposed to occur. But Pompeo still insisted, "it was real."
At a White House event on Thursday, Trump claimed Soleimani was planning to attack a the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. At the same time, he claimed he ordered the strike as revenge for previous attacks on U.S. troops planned by Soleimani.
The administration has not publicly released any intelligence backing up the various rationales for the airstrike.
The airstrike was carried out mere days after the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for both obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet delivered the articles of impeachment to the Senate after stating she is waiting to confirm Trump will receive a fair trial, it is largely expected that the Senate will vote on the articles in the not-too-distant future.
In that trial, Chief Justice John Roberts will preside and all 100 Senators will become jurors, swearing an oath to be impartial. Part of Pelosi's concern may stem from several Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, publicly declaring that they will not be impartial jurors. McConnell has also publicly announced that he is coordinating with the White House about the parameters of the trial.
In order to remain in office, Trump must ensure a large majority of Republican senators side with him in the trial. And as the House was moving through the impeachment process last fall, Trump raised campaign funds for several vulnerable Republican senators facing reelection in 2020, including Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, and Joni Ernst.
The new report from the Journal indicates Trump is still trying to shore up support for the forthcoming trial, going so far as to use the power of the U.S. military to kill a top Iranian general in order to appease certain senators.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. Attribution: Dan Desai Martin.