President Donald Trump’s recent abruptly ordered assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani sucked a lot of the energy away from coverage of his impeachment — and now, a report in The New York Times suggests that may have been explicitly intentional on the president’s part. According to the publication, he told an associate “that he had been pressured to take a harder line on Iran by some Republican senators whose support he needs now more than ever amid an impeachment battle.” The report mirrors one in The Wall Street Journal that also notes that he’s told associates he was trying “to appease Republican Senators who’ll play a crucial role in his Senate impeachment trial,” in Business Insider’s description.
Those reports mean that the president of the United States dragged the U.S. further into the thicket of potential violent conflict with Iran explicitly because of the political benefits that he thought he could get. And there’s been a gross confirmation of that, since The Times notes that the Trump campaign has already run almost 800 “distinct” Facebook ads and counting that highlight the assassination in one way or another. Among other messages, the ads highlight the president’s supposed “leadership as commander in chief” and link to the Trump campaign website.
Personally, Trump has reportedly “even described in graphic detail to friends the attacks on the American Embassy in Baghdad that preceded” the Soleimani strike, according to The Times.
No matter his ignorant acceptance of the risks in the name of political gain, there’s already been a clear sign of the danger that Trump has gotten the U.S. into. Earlier this week, Iran launched a retaliatory missile attack on two U.S. bases in Iraq, and although there were no casualties, some Iranian leaders have said their retaliation will continue — although in his response to the attack on the bases, Trump claimed that Iran appears to be “standing down,” which suggests that he’s ready to do the same.
In the meantime, Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh claimed that “Americans want to see their president acting decisively and defending the nation’s interests, and that’s exactly what President Trump did” — but if the reports about his resorting to explaining the strike in terms of impeachment are true, Murtaugh’s explanation simply has no relation to the reality of the situation. Trump’s supposedly great and awesome plan did not even seem to include the kind of solid intelligence that the White House has claimed exists. During an appearance on Fox News on Thursday night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed there was an “imminent” threat from Soleimani, but he added that they didn’t know when or where an attack would take place — which isn’t exactly reassuring! Action-demanding imminence doesn’t mean that something may happen at some point somewhere.
Trump personally claimed this week that there was an imminent bombing attack planned targeting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, but there’s no apparent evidence for that. The actual evidence — including Trump’s pre-strike consultation of top impeachment supporter Lindsey Graham and no other member of Congress — supports the idea of all of this as political expedience.