“We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy,” Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday. Some news organizations interpreted the president’s comments as revealing a previously undisclosed threat that led them to target Soleimani.
But later on, Trump mentioned the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve. Multiple White House officials confirmed to Fox News that he was referring to this attack in his “blow up” comments rather than a previously undisclosed threat.
On Dec. 31, dozens protesting American airstrikes against Iran-backed militas laid siege to the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, chanting “Down, Down, U.S.A.!” They stormed through the main gate, prompting guards to fire tear gas.
White House officials continue to insist, however, that there was an imminent threat posed by Soleimani that led them to take him out at that time, but it was not about blowing up the Baghdad embassy. They decline to specify the actual threat.
Rep. Mike McCaul, R.-Texas, and Pentagon officials on Thursday referenced a potential future plot against the embassy.
In an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not deny that Soleimani wanted to blow up the embassy.
“The president says Soleimani wanted to blow up the embassy. Is that accurate? He wanted to blow up the embassy?” Ingraham asked.
“It was his forces that penetrated our embassy just a handful of days before that Kata’ib Hezbollah warriors orchestrated, directed by Qasem Soleimani himself,” Pompeo replied. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that Soleimani had intentions, not only to take action against our forces, our diplomats in Iraq, but in other countries around the region and world as well.”
The full interview airs at 10 p.m. ET on “The Ingraham Angle.”
Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report.