AG Barr defends Trump, says he 'clearly had the authority to act'
Attorney General William Barr told reporters that the Department of Justice Officials were actually consulted before President Donald Trump agreed to order a strike that killed top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was the former leader who led an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In his statement, Barr addressed the issue, saying
Frankly, I didn't think it was a close call. The president clearly had the authority to act as he did... We had a situation where the Iranians had already embarked on a series of escalating violent actions taken against our allies, taken against the American people, our troops, with the avowed purpose of driving us out of the Middle East."
His words targets those who question the administration's justification. It turns out that the president and his national security advisers offered these shifting accounts. In a report by USA Today, it is said that these accounts prompted the decision to target Soleimani as he left Baghdad International Airport. Barr declines to answer questions as to when the Justice Department was consulted, instead telling the reporters that Soliemani was a legitimate target and that the strike was an act of self-defense.
The majority of Democrats, and some Republicans, are now questioning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials on their report that Soleimani was plotting an attack that would've jeopardized American lives. Senator Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said "The briefing was incredibly thin on facts. They did not support any claim of an imminent threat that would justify the actions they've taken with respect to eliminating Soleimani."
Barr agrees with the administration's defenses of the strike designed to disrupt imminent attacks on U.S. interests. He also declines to elaborate the timing of those plans, saying he does not believe there was a requirement for the country to know the specifics of the pending strike at that time. He stated
"Our ability to deter attacks had obviously been broken down. The Iranians had been given a number of red lines and were crossing those lines. They obviously felt that they could attack us and continue these escalating attacks with impunity."
Once again, the President defends his choice, stating that the accounts reported were consistent. On the topic of Soleimani, the president explained "We killed Soleimani, the number one terrorist in the world by every account. Bad person, killed a lot of Americans, killed a lot of people." The president rejected Iraq's plan of pushing for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The country's leaders sees the strike as "political assassination", violating their country's sovereignty. Iran also retaliated from Soleimani's killing by launching more than a dozen ballistic missiles at an Iraqi base that housed American troops.