Multiple reports are spreading through sources such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times that at least some of the motivation for Donald Trump’s decision to launch the airstrike that killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani was the impending impeachment trial in the Senate. Reports published by both of these outlets claim that Trump said he was under pressure by senators who he needed on his side for the trial.
“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, associates said,” reads the Wall Street Journal report.
Report: Trump Cited GOP Senate Impeachment Pressure As Reason to Kill Soleimani https://t.co/rjvfkVvSqf— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) January 10, 2020
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported something similar about a phone call that took place before the assassination.
“Mr. Trump pointed out to one person who spoke to him on the phone last week that he had been pressured to take a harder line on Iran by some Republican senators whose support he needs now more than ever amid an impeachment battle,” Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman report.
Though not definitive, these statements line up nicely with the reports that Pentagon officials gave Trump a list of options for actions to take in Iran and were very surprised when he chose the most extreme option, which they only included to make the other options look better.
Via @anniekarni and me three days ago: "Mr. Trump pointed out to one person who spoke to him on the phone last week that he had been pressured to take a harder line on Iran by some Republican senators whose support he needs now more than ever amid an impeachment battle."— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 10, 2020
“They didn’t think he would take it,” the New York Times wrote on January 4. “In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable.”
“By late Thursday, the president had gone for the extreme option. Top Pentagon officials were stunned.”
Trump opted to kill Soleimani despite aides' disputes about intelligence warnings of new threats, NYT reports. Pentagon officials were stunned.https://t.co/gb0ChwORX1— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 5, 2020
First of all, they shouldn’t have been surprised. Second, are we just supposed to ignore the fact that the Pentagon has been manipulating the president’s military decisions like this for over 18 years. Apparently so, because, as New York Magazine points out, attacking a foreign nation for this reason is an abuse of power that could be considered yet another impeachable offense. Add it to the pile.
Today's reporting confirms what I said on Sunday—why did this strike happen on the eve of an impeachment trial? Trump is taking us to the edge of war for his own political benefit. It's reckless and dangerous. We must speak out. No war with Iran. https://t.co/4C1ioLVBm8 pic.twitter.com/3hHMmFUWWv— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 10, 2020
There was wide speculation that the decision to assassinate Soleimani and escalate tensions with Iran was a tactic to distract from the impeachment trial soon after the airstrike took place. Thankfully, Iran deescalated the situation, and now we can go back to talking about how Senate Republicans are plotting to rig the process under Trump’s direction.