Although Donald Trump was the one who ultimately authorized the assassination of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have been a crucial factor in pushing the move. The claim against Pompeo was brought forth by CNN correspondent Jamie Gangel during Wednesday’s edition of The Situation Room, Newsweek reports.
“I just wanted to read to you from an inner-circle source familiar with Pompeo and the situation,” said Gangel. “The source said that he is the one leading the way, and it is the president’s policy, but Pompeo has been the leading voice.”
According to Gangel, the same source said that Pompeo has wanted to take Soleimani off the map for a decade. The secretary allegedly told friends and colleagues that he didn’t want to retire from public service before Soleimani was dealt with. He was reportedly the person who “got everyone on board” with the controversial assassination mission.
Gangel says that with the support of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, there was “not much dissent” about the decision.
Per CNN, Pompeo reportedly attempted to obtain a visa to Iran in 2016 during his time as a Kansas representative on the Republican National Committee. Although the secretary claimed his visit was intended to monitor elections, he allegedly told those close to him that he wanted to confront Soleimani.
Pompeo reportedly has many military friends in the Middle East and his fixation on the Iranian general was likely due to Soleimani allegedly being responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers.
WALLACE: Trump said Soleimani was planning an 'imminent attack.' What was it?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 5, 2020
POMPEO: We'll share the intel at some time. An American was killed on Dec. 27.
W: But he'd been targeting Americans for decades. Why was it urgent to take him out now?
P: Inaction was more risky. pic.twitter.com/V8n5NfeM1H
The Trump administration has claimed that Soleimani was planning an imminent attack on U.S. interests. But speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Pompeo did not elaborate on the nature of this threat and appeared to suggest that the attack was motivated by Soleimani’s past actions – not an imminent threat.
“There’s been much made about this question of intelligence and imminence. You need to look no further than the days that led up to the strike that was taken against us.”
Per Business Insider, Trump said Wednesday that Soleimani was planning to bomb the U.S. embassy in Iraq, despite no mention of such intelligence being presented in the recent intel briefing on the Iran attacks.
“We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy,” Trump told reporters, adding that the decision was also motivated by “other reasons that were very obvious.”