US Iran News: ‘Everything’s fine,’ Trump says after Iran’s attack on U.S. bases in Iraq World News
Trump offered no immediate indication whether he would retaliate, and remained out of sight Tuesday night when news of the missile strikes surfaced.
But he tweeted that a victim and damage assessment was underway. The initial point of view, he said, was “So far, so good!”
It’s all right! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties and damage… https://t.co/5OSmLxzhin
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 1578451524000
Iranian missiles arrived in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassim Suleimani. Trump and his advisers are under pressure to reveal more details about the intelligence that led to the U.S. strike.
Trump said Tuesday that his decision saved American lives and that members of Congress will receive a briefing on the reasons for the U.S. attack.
“They were planning something,” he said of the Iranians.
Hours later, Iran retreated, firing missiles at bases housing U.S. troops and warning the United States and its allies in the region not to retaliate. The White House said the president was monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.
So far, Trump and senior national security officials have justified the airstrike with general statements about the threat published by Soleimani, who commanded proxy forces outside Iran and was responsible for the deaths of U.S. troops in Iraq.
But the details have been scarce.
“He’s no longer a monster. He’s dead,” Trump said. “And that’s a good thing for many countries. He was planning a very big attack and a very bad attack for us and other people and we stopped him and I don’t think anyone can complain about it.”
Suleimani was attacked while at an airport in Baghdad with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a veteran Iraqi militant who was also killed.
Trump said they weren’t in Baghdad to discuss vacation plans or visit a “good resort,” but they were there to talk about “bad business.”
The lack of detail does not agree well with democrats, who recall how President George W. Bush justified his invasion of Iraq by accusing Saddam Hussein of having non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Lawmakers in recent days have been pushing for explaining why Trump ordered the assassination, a decision previous administrations passed because of fears that it would trigger even more violence.
Suleimani traveled frequently and relatively openly, with more frequent visits to Baghdad in recent months. It also often performed in Syria, even along the Iraq-Syria border.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and the sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has asked Trump to declassify the written notice he sent to Congress after the strike. Notification was required under the War Power Resolution Act of 1973, which requires the president to report to Congress when U.S. forces are sent to hostile situations.
“‘The president must come to Congress and present clear and convincing intelligence as to why the strike against Soleimani was absolutely necessary,” Menendez said in a speech in the Senate. “In the wake of all his misleading statements, we must make it clear to the administration that the president himself does not have the authority to launch a war against Iran.”
Trump stressed that the attack was in retaliation for Iranian attacks and that the United States is prepared to strike again, “very strongly.” He also said that while he eventually wants to get U.S. troops out of Iraq, now is not the time because it would allow Iran to gain a bigger foothold there.
Trump’s top national security officials made several public appearances Tuesday to continue defending the strike.
“We had deep intelligence that there was an active plot to put American lives at risk,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
When asked if the threat was imminent in days or weeks, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “I think it’s fairer to say days, for sure.”
Esper said the intelligence was accurate: “razor thin.” He said the best Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, as well as the presidents and vice presidents of the intelligence committees in both chambers, were receiving a classified briefing Tuesday afternoon about what led to the decision to kill Soleimani. He said other lawmakers will be provided with general details about the attack.
He said Soleimani was in Baghdad to coordinate additional attacks against the United States “To suggest in some way that it was not a legitimate target, I think, it is fanciful,” Esper said.
Democratic lawmakers are not yet convinced that it was the right decision.
The sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called the U.S. attack on Suleimani a mistake and said, “I still haven’t seen how killing this man will prevent Iran from pose an even greater threat against America and our interests.”
In the wake of the massacre, Iran has announced that it will no longer be bound by the 2015 nuclear deal and has promised to retaliate against the United States, its Allies and U.S. interests. Iraq’s parliament also voted to expel U.S. troops from Iraq, undermining efforts to fight Islamic State militants in the region and strengthen Iran’s influence in the Middle East.