Amid continued scrutiny of President Donald Trump’s claim that former Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was plotting an imminent attack against Americans, members of his administration appeared on Sunday shows to defend the strike that killed Soleimani.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien defended the strike, saying it was “difficult” to predict what the targets would have been but added it was “consistent with the intelligence” to assume that several embassies would be targeted.
“It’s always difficult, even with the exquisite intelligence that we have, to know exactly what the targets are. But it’s certainly consistent with the intelligence to assume that they would have hit embassies in at least four countries.”
Watch his comments below:
Members of Congress say the Iranian threat to blow up multiple U.S. embassies was not mentioned in the intel briefing. But the President says there were threats to four embassies. Plus, is the Trump administration's strategy working? Robert O'Brien reacts. #FNS pic.twitter.com/hqIMScY2Tk— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) January 12, 2020
He added that the targets could have been military bases as well and that intelligence showed that Soleimani was planning some kind of an attack.
“We had very strong intelligence that they were looking to kill and maim American citizens at U.S. facilities in the region.”
O’Brien’s comments come after Trump told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Friday that Soleimani was planning to attack four embassies.
In a separate interview on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan that he also believed embassies could have been targeted but added that he did not see specific intelligence that showed that Soleimani was plotting an embassy attack.
When pressed on whether the evidence supported beliefs that embassies were threatened, Esper noted that Trump did not “cite a specific piece of evidence.”
He added that he did not see evidence that showed Soleimani was plotting an attack on four embassies but, “I shared a view the president’s view that —probably — my expectation was that they were going to go after our embassies.”
Watch his comments below:
NEWS: @EsperDod tells @margbrennan he "didn't see" specific evidence showing Iran planned to strike 4 U.S. embassies, despite @realDonaldTrump saying an attack at multiple embassies was “imminent." Watch more of Esper's interview on @FacetheNation today. pic.twitter.com/1Nud8waok1— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 12, 2020
Members of the Trump Administration have been pressed to answer if intelligence showed that Soleimani was plotting an imminent attack — a question that thus far the administration has not answered in a consistent manner.
Late last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to waffle on his explanation of what the intelligence showed in regard to a potential attack.
On Friday, Pompeo told reporters that the U.S. had “specific information on an imminent threat.” However, during a Fox News interview on Thursday, the secretary of state said he was unaware of “precisely when” or “precisely where” an attack would take place.