“It doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past,” Trump wrote. The administration has held Soleimani, as head of Iran’s Quds Force, responsible for orchestrating Iran’s use of proxy forces in terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East, and the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers over the years, long before the threat it has said justified the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike that killed him.
In a separate tweet, Trump emphasized Soleimani’s past actions rather than the threat of future attacks. “The Democrats and Fake News are trying to make terrorist Soleimani into a wonderful guy, only because I did what should have been done for 20 years,” he wrote.
Trump said last week that Soleimani had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies. Senior administration officials have declined to confirm that assertion, while saying there was intelligence that Iran was plotting imminent strikes against a series of U.S. targets, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Later in the day, as he departed the White House for a football game in New Orleans, Trump said the administration had been “totally consistent. But here’s what’s been consistent: We killed Soleimani, the number one terrorist in the world by every account. Bad person, killed a lot of Americans, killed a lot of people. We killed him. And when the Democrats try and defend him, it’s a disgrace to our country.”
Many Democratic lawmakers and a number of Republicans have the questioned administration’s claims about the immediacy of the threat — and the targets — and charged that it has failed to provide full and accurate information about an action that brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war.
Last week, in what Iran said was retaliation for Soleimani’s killing, Iran launched a barrage of missile strikes against two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, although no casualties resulted. Several hours later, Iranian missile defense shot down a Ukrainian airliner that had just taken off from Tehran, killing all 176 aboard.
Tehran’s admission of what it said was a “mistake,” following days of denial of the shoot-down, has led to large anti-government demonstrations in Iran and a crackdown by security forces.
In an apparent reference to reported deaths of some protesters, Trump retweeted posts critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). One, saying “Who in America supports this mullah’s crime? Answer: Nancy Pelosi,” included a photograph of a body hanging from barbed wire strung over a fence.
Another included a doctored photograph of Pelosi wearing a headscarf and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a turban, standing in front of an Iranian flag.