When and how did President Donald Trump come up with the decision to have Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani killed? That’s the question the media seems to have been asking for the past week — and so far, they’ve come up with wildly different answers.
Using the oh-so-tired “anonymous sources” trick, media outlets have reported everything from Trump wanted Soleimani dead back in 2017 to suggesting it was actually Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who pushed for the killing. Here are the four completely contradictory narratives the media have “reported,” all based on anonymous officials:
Trump Made The Decision Just Days Before Soleimani’s Death And Officials Were ‘Stunned’
The New York Times and others all claimed a day after Soleimani’s death that anonymous “Pentagon officials” were “stunned” by Trump’s decision to kill the Iranian general. Pentagon officials allegedly presented Trump with multiple options in “the chaotic days leading” to Soleimani’s death. One of those options was to kill Soleimani. The anonymous officials said this option was presented as an extreme to make the other choices look better. Trump, according to this narrative, rejected killing Soleimani but days later told officials to go ahead. The officials who allegedly spoke to the Times were not quoted, yet their claims allowed the Times to once again bash Trump.
It Was Pompeo’s Idea
The Washington Post reported that anonymous officials said it was Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence who urged Trump to approve Soleimani’s killing, and that the secretary of state had been trying to convince Trump for months to retaliate against Iran using the military.
“Pompeo first spoke with Trump about killing Soleimani months ago, said a senior U.S. official, but neither the president nor Pentagon officials were willing to countenance such an operation,” the Post reported.
Trump Actually Authorized Soleimani’s Killing 7 Months Ago
NBC reported Monday that “five current and former senior administration officials” told the outlet that Trump actually authorized the killing of Soleimani seven months ago. Trump alleged authorized the killing on the condition that he “would have final signoff on any specific operation,” as if that would ever need to be said. The outlet also reported that when Trump authorized the attack – allegedly seven months ago – in the event that Iran’s escalating aggression killed an American.
One of the anonymous officials told NBC that “a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” and that it was “some time ago” that Trump’s aides added killing Soleimani to the list of potential responses.
NBC also added in that former national security adviser John Bolton, along with Pompeo, urged Trump to authorize the killing, again, months ago.
Trump Wanted To Kill Soleimani Back In 2017
The Washington Post, who previously reported that Pompeo was the driving force behind the killing of Soleimani, now reported that it was actually Trump who wanted to kill the Iranian general – back in 2017.
“As a presidential candidate in 2015, Trump in an interview didn’t seem to have heard of Soleimani or the paramilitary Iranian Quds Force he led. But within five months of taking office, Trump was raising the possibility of killing him — an idea he would bring up several times again in the months and years to follow,” the outlet reported.
So, which is it? Maybe it’s all of them.