Trump Killed Iranian General After New Emails Show He Directly Ordered Hold On Ukraine Aid
Is Trump Attacking Iran To Distract From New Evidence In Impeachment Trial?
The Trump administration’s assassination of Iran’s top general came only hours after the release of Office of Management and Budget emails that directly implicate President Trump in the decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine to pressure its president to open an investigation of his political rival, Joe Biden, ahead of this year’s election.
In one email, top OMB official Michael Duffey wrote that there was “Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” in reference to the nearly $400 million of frozen military aid to Ukraine. The White House disclosed on Friday that it has 20 more “emails between a top aide to President Trump’s acting chief of staff and a colleague at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget discussing the freeze of a congressionally mandated military aid package for Ukraine,” that it refuses to turn over, according to the New York Times.
The Washington Post reported that some congressional Democrats “privately worry that the timing will trigger GOP accusations that they’re undercutting the commander in chief during a national security crisis,” and be used by Republicans as leverage in the Senate impeachment process.
“In an interview Friday, top Trump ally Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) argued that Democrats were ‘playing politics’ with impeachment while Trump was ‘taking out a general who has American bloodstains on his hands,'” wrote the Post. “House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) agreed, declaring that Trump was focused on defending the country amid Democratic ‘harassment.'”
The Pentagon claimed in a statement that Gen. Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” and that the military operation came “at the direction of the president” and was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
New York Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi explained in a twitter thread how two U.S. officials with knowledge of the situation expressed the intelligence undergirding the Pentagon’s claim as “hardly evidence of an imminent attack.”
“In fact the evidence pointing to that came as three discrete facts,” Callimachi wrote. Those three facts, according to Callimachi, were Soleimani’s “pattern of travel” meeting proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq (which was ‘business as usual’ according to one source), his request for the Iranian Supreme Leader’s approval for an unknown “operation,” and Iran’s “increasingly bellicose position towards American interests in Iraq.”
“As one source put it, a) + b) + c) is hardly evidence of an imminent attack on American interests that could kill hundreds, as the White House has since claimed,” Callimachi wrote. “The official describes the reading of the intelligence as an illogical leap.”
“The question is why now? His whereabouts have been known before,” asked Calimachi. “His resume of killing-by-proxy is not a secret. Hard to decouple his killing from the impeachment saga.”
17. Before I go back to the pool let me just say the obvious: No one’s trying to downplay Suleimani’s crimes. The question is why now? His whereabouts have been known before. His resume of killing-by-proxy is not a secret. Hard to decouple his killing from the impeachment saga.
— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) January 4, 2020
In a State Department briefing, officials became irritable when asked for evidence that Soleimani was actively developing plans of attack against Americans, demanding that reporters trust them for their word despite the U.S. security state’s long record of lying to the public. “You’re not going to make the Iraq comparison,” a state official told a reporter.
Just read transcript of the State Department briefing on the Suleimani killing. Could not believe the arrogance of the State officials. Insulting reporters, refusing to answer direct questions. They did not provide one iota of evidence to back up their claims of imminent attack.
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) January 3, 2020
As Common Dreams’ Jake Johnson notes, several legal experts assert that the legal justification for Trump’s strike “completely falls apart” if Callimachi’s findings are true.
Others have pointed to the president’s old tweets accusing President Obama of starting a war with Iran in order to secure his reelection, showing that he believes warmongering is politically advantageous in moments of domestic unpopularity.
In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2011
Don't let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to get elected–be careful Republicans!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2012
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under indictment for criminal charges and is facing removal from office and new elections just like Trump, giving the White House’s strongest ally in the Middle East reason to support growing tensions with Iran to distract from domestic problems. Hawks in both countries have long sought regime change in Iran.
“Notably, the assassination of Soleimani comes just a few months after an alleged Israeli attempt to kill the Iranian general failed and amid a well-documented and decades-long push by U.S. neoconservatives and Israeli officials for a U.S.-led war with Iran,” reported Mintpress’ Whitney Webb.
Clinton’s Impeachment Diversion
As journalist Robert Bridge wrote on Friday, Bill Clinton was similarly criticized for attempting to divert attention from his impeachment by initiating bombing campaigns in Sudan and in Iraq in 1998 and 1999:
“On August 20, 1998, just weeks before Congress was set to vote on articles of impeachment against the philandering Democrat, Clinton ordered a cruise-missile attack on a Sudan factory on the grounds it was producing nerve gas for al-Qaeda. As it turned out, however, the destroyed factory was actually a pharmaceutical plant that employed thousands.
Werner Daum, the former German ambassador to Sudan, estimated that ‘several tens of thousands” of Sudanese civilians died as a result of a medicine shortage caused by that US military strike.'”