Donald Trump appeared at a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on Friday, and during his speech in front of the high-dollar donors, he said that he ordered the strike against Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani because the Quds Force leader was saying “bad things” about the United States.
News network CNN obtained audio of the fundraiser, which they say doesn’t include any mention of an imminent strike. The threat of such a strike is the reason that Trump and his administration used to justify the attack that threatened to destabilize relations in the Middle East.
“He said bad things about our country. He was saying things like ‘We’re going to attack your country. We’re going to kill your people,'” Trump said. “I said, look, how much of this sh*t do we have to listen to? How much are we going to listen to?”
The president also gave a surprisingly detailed minute-by-minute accounting of the drone strike that killed Soleimani and the others in the two-car convoy near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.
Trump told the assembled donors that he and military officials watched the strike unfold through “cameras that are miles in the sky.”
He then continued to describe the attack as it unfolded, explaining that the military officials told him “they’re together sir,” before beginning a countdown to the strike.
“‘Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. 30 seconds. 10, 9, 8…'” Trump recounted the military officials telling him.
“Then all of a sudden, boom,” Trump recalled. “‘They’re gone, sir. Cutting off.'”
“I said, where is this guy?” Trump concluded. “That was the last I heard from him.”
Soleimani was widely considered to be the number two leader in Iran, only behind Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was the head of Iran’s network of armed forces. The attack that killed him was criticized by many who said that the attack could result in retaliation and was an extreme step to take against a nation that the United States is struggling to develop a positive relationship with.
The White House has defended the strike, saying that Soleimani posed an imminent threat to U.S. citizens, however, some people in the administration have contradicted that claim. It was later added that Soleimani had done things in the past that had warranted the strike.
At the Mar-a-Lago event, Trump didn’t repeat the claim about a threat from Soleimani. Instead, he only mentioned that Soleimani was a terrorist who was “on our list.”