“He was saying bad things about our country, like we’re going to attack, we’re going to kill your people. I said, ‘Listen, how much of this shit do we have to listen to, right?’” That is the latest explanation for why President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani earlier this month. He said this not to Congress, nor to the American people, but to donors at his Mar-a-Lago resort during a dramatic rendition of how the airstrikes unfolded, according to a recording of the comments obtained by the Washington Post.
That makes as much sense as any of the other rationales for killing Soleimani that have been offered so far. At first Trump said he did so because Soleimani was about to launch an “imminent” attack on Americans. But no concrete, specific evidence has yet been offered to support that assertion. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted as much. “We don’t know precisely when and we don’t know precisely where,” he said on Fox News, “but it was real.” When Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley briefed Congress on the strikes, he provided three dates on which they were concerned attacks would take place, but a lawmaker at the briefing told the New York Times that they were all “before the strike on General Soleimani and no attacks actually occurred then.” Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, called it “probably the worst briefing” he’d experienced in his nine years in office. “We never got to the details,” he said.
No matter. Trump started filling in the details himself, saying that he assassinated Soleimani because of a plot to attack an embassy. That quickly became a plot to “blow up” the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. But that didn’t last very long, either, because he soon went on Fox News to further embellish the story. “I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies” Soleimani was going to hit, he said. Eventually, basically conceding that he was making it up as he went along, Trump confessed that “it doesn’t really matter” what the reason was.