According to statements made by five current and former senior Trump administration officials, Donald Trump authorized the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago if Iran’s aggression resulted in the death of an American.
Trump reportedly gave this directive back in June of 2017 with the condition that he would have the final signoff on all of the specifics of the operation to kill the general.
This directive completely explains why going after Soleimani was an option two weeks ago after an attack by Iranian proxies resulted in the death of a U.S. contractor . Four U.S. service members were also wounded in the attack.
However, the timing could completely undermine Trump and his administration’s stated justification for ordering the drone strike that killed Soleimani back on Jan. 3.
“There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” a senior administration official stated.
Back in June after Iran shot down a U.S. drone John Bolton, who was Trump’s national security advisor at the time, reportedly advised him to sign off an operation to kill Soleimani. Officials have stated that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also urged Trump to approve Soleimani’s assassination.
Trump declined to sign off and stated that he’d go after the genera only if Iran crossed his “red line.”
Soleimani’s movements have been closely tracked by U.S. intelligence officials for years. After Trump’s election, Pompeo urged that Trump take more aggressive action. Reportedly, Pompeo showed Trump intelligence on what a second senior administration official described as “very serious threats that didn’t come to fruition.”
Back in April, Bolton tried to convince Trump to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization. At that time the White House would not comment on if the U.S. would then target Revolutionary Guard leaders as it does the leadership of other terrorist groups.
Iran retaliated to the designation by listing the U.S. military a terrorist organization. These actions caused tensions between the U.S. and Iran to mount.