Pompeo Says He Doesn’t Know Who First Described Embassy Threat As ‘Imminent’

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 07: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the U.S. State Department January 07, 2020 in Washington, DC. When questioned about the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleima... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 07: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the U.S. State Department January 07, 2020 in Washington, DC. When questioned about the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, Pompeo said "It was the right decision, we got it right." (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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January 13, 2020 6:57 p.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did nothing to clear up confusion over whether there was “specific” intelligence supporting President Trump’s claim that there was an “imminent threat” by top Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani to attack four US embassies, during a Monday night interview on Fox News.

When Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Pompeo whether the Trump administration described the threat to the four embassies as “imminent” because “it pleased the lawyers,” Pompeo said he was unsure “who used it first, but it reflects what we saw.”

“I don’t know who used it first, but it reflects what we saw,” Pompeo said. “We can dance around the maypole on the word ‘imminent’ — I can assure you of this. The intelligence picture that was painted not only in those days, but in all of the history that builds up to this doesn’t just come to your radar screen new and fresh.”

After Pompeo insisted that “there was active plotting underway by Qassem Soleimani himself and all those around him,” Baier pressed the secretary of state on whether there was concern that congressional Democrats would leak information if they were alerted about the attack ahead of time.

“Anytime information about something so sensitive gets into too many hands, you should know that not only did we limit this information in the legislative branch, we limited inside the executive branch as well,” Pompeo said. “We made sure that everyone who needed to know knew precisely what they needed different people, needed different levels of information, but we kept this information in a very tight circle.”

Pompeo’s remarks on Fox News came shortly after CNN reported that State Department security officials were not given the heads up of the imminent threats to four US embassies.

On Sunday, neither Defense Secretary Mark Esper nor National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien could confirm during their multiple cable news appearances that Trump had specific intelligence to back his claim that Soleimani threatened to target four U.S. embassies.

Watch Pompeo’s remarks below:

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