Attorney General William Barr on Monday, Jan. 13, said President Donald Trump had consulted the Department of Justice before ordering the airstrike that took out Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“Frankly I didn’t think it was a close call,” Barr told reporters. “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.”
Barr’s comments come as Democrats criticized the president’s decision to order the airstrike without a congressional approval.
Barr stated that Soleimani was a “legitimate target” and the U.S. strike was a “legitimate act of self-defense.”
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have questioned assertions by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials that Soleimani posed an “imminent” threat to United States forces.
“I didn’t hear anything in the briefing that there was a lawful basis for the attack and that the threat was imminent,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.). “The absence of approval from Congress and consultation with Congress resulted in, I think, a very reckless decision that undermines American national security interests and the security of our country.”
The House voted last Thursday to limit President Trump’s war-making powers against Iran.
President Trump on Monday defended his decision, slamming the “Fake News Media and their Democrats Partners” for trying to determine whether a future attack by Soleimani was “imminent,” and whether the Trump administration was in agreement over the airstrike.
The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was “imminent” or not, & was my team in agreement. The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2020
“The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!” he added.
Barr echoed the administration defense of the strike, pointing to a series of Iran’s actions in the Middle East and escalating confrontations between Washington and Tehran that preceded Soleimani’s end.
“The Iranians had been given a number of red lines and were crossing those lines,” Barr said. “They obviously felt that they could attack us and continue these escalating attacks with impunity.”