Secretary of Mike Pompeo said Thursday there is "no doubt" that assassinated Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on Americans but—in the very same sentence—admitted the U.S. doesn't know when or where such attacks would take place.
"There were a series of imminent attacks that were being plotted by Qasem Soleimani, and we don't know precisely when and we don't know precisely where, but it was real," Pompeo told Fox News' Laura Ingraham.
Pompeo: “there were a series of imminent attacks, we don’t know when, we don’t know where.
— Jason Sparks (@sparksjls) January 10, 2020
Members of Congress critical of the Trump administration's decision to assassinate Soleimani immediately pounced on Pompeo's remarks, suggesting the secretary of state is either lying about the supposed attacks or doesn't know the definition of imminent.
"That is not what 'imminent' means," tweeted Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.). "It's this kind of obfuscation, lying to Congress, and unchecked provocation that dragged us into the Iraq War. We will not allow that to happen again. Yesterday's War Powers vote will ensure that."
Other Democratic lawmakers weighed in:
- not ordered, just "being plotted"
- no idea where
- no idea when
Say it with me:
THAT'S NOT IMMINENT. https://t.co/CEG3jGCwa2
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— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 10, 2020
I’ve been a member of the Intel Committee for over a decade.
Been briefed hundreds of times on threats — some imminent, some not. When targeting a top gov’t official for killing:
“We don’t know precisely when and we don’t know precisely where,” does not constitute “imminent.” https://t.co/1sL8uEVDWI
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 10, 2020
Pompeo, a driving force behind the Trump administration's hawkish Iran policies, told Fox he believes White House officials did a "dynamite job" briefing lawmakers on the supposed intelligence that justified the assassination of Soleimani.
As Common Dreams reported Wednesday, lawmakers from both parties condemned the classified briefing as "insulting" and said White House officials did not provide a shred of evidence of an imminent attack.
In response to Pompeo's Fox interview, Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) tweeted, "This is about as much as they told Congress in a classified setting."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who attended the Senate briefing on Soleimani, said in an interview with NBC Friday that he didn't hear anything from Trump administration officials that amounted to evidence of an imminent attack.
"The difficulty that we have, and I don't mean to be rude here, is that we have a president who is a pathological liar," said Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. "So could it be true? I guess it could be. Is it likely to be true? Probably not."