Lawmakers and journalists expressed skepticism Friday about President Donald Trump’s claim on Fox News that assassinated Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was planning an attack on four U.S. embassies.
The previous day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, also on Fox News, that the U.S. didn’t have information about specific targets, only that attacks were imminent. “We don’t know when, we don’t know where,” he said.
Trump told reporters Thursday that Soleimani was planning to “blow up” a single embassy — in Baghdad.
Then the president told Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “I can reveal that I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies.”
But two unnamed senior officials, including one in the Defense Department, told The Washington Post that they were aware only of vague intelligence about a plot — not fully formed — against the embassy in Baghdad. Neither mentioned any threats against other embassies.
In addition, the Baghdad embassy was never given a warning “commensurate” with the kind of threat described by Trump, a source told the Post, which would have been standard procedure.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) noted that nothing about planned attacks on four embassies was revealed to Congress and essentially accused the president of making up the planned attacks.
“Let’s be clear — if there was evidence of imminent attacks on four embassies, the Administration would have said so at our Wednesday briefing,” he tweeted. “They didn’t. So either Fox News gets higher level briefings than Congress ... or ... wait for it... there was no such imminent threat.”
Murphy said he has issued a request with the director of national intelligence for a new briefing concerning Trump’s revelations and an explanation of why they weren’t mentioned in Wednesday’s closed-door briefing.