Donald Trump ordered the airstrike that killed an Iranian general last week at least in part due to fears about his upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate, according to a new report.
An article in the Wall Street Journal indicates that Mr Trump has told associates that he ordered the killing of Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani amid pressure from Republicans who wanted him to take a stronger stance towards Iran.
“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 upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate,” the report, published Thursday, says.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
The line appears to confirm earlier reporting by the New York Times, which claimed the president had told at least one person over the phone that he had felt “pressured to take a harder line on Iran by some Republican senators whose support he needs now more than ever amid an impeachment battle.”
In the week that has followed the attack, Mr Trump has been praised by many in the Republican Party. And, as stability in the Middle East has been seen as particularly precarious, Mr Trump has reportedly felt at-ease with the decision.
The new report connecting Mr Trump’s impeachment concerns to the attack come just after Trump administration officials conducted a classified briefing with members of Congress to discuss the reasoning behind the call, and as Washington has appeared divided over whether the airstrike was necessary.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed the strike was authorised in response to an “imminent threat” to Americans in the region.
But, the administration has been criticised for its transparency from a group that includes most Democrats and even some Republicans
“Now I find this insulting and demeaning, not personally, but to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happen to hold. I find it insulting, and I find it demeaning to the Constitution to which we’ve all sworn an oath. It is after all the prerogative of the legislative branch to declare war,” senator Mike Lee, a Republican, told reporters during a press briefing alongside senator Rand Paul after the classified briefing this week.
Mr Lee added: “What we were told over and over again was, ‘look, this action is necessary, this was a bad guy, we had to do it and we can’t have division. We can’t have division within our ranks, within our government, otherwise it sends a wrong signal to the Iranians’. And I just, I think that’s completely wrong.”
In response to the airstrike, Iran launched a strikes on US targets in Iraq, firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at Iraqi military bases where American troops are stationed. Those attacks had no reported casualties, and led Mr Trump to claim that “Iran appears to be standing down” in an apparent de-escalation of tensions.
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