State Dept. Officials ‘Blindsided’ By Trump’s ‘Imminent’ Threats Claim

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the U.S. State Department on January 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

State Department security officials were reportedly not given the heads up of the imminent threats to four US embassies, which President Trump said last week justified his authorization of the strike that killed top Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani.

Two State Department officials told CNN in a Monday report that the department failed to issue warnings about specific threats to any US embassy prior to Trump’s authorization of the Soleimani strike.

Although a senior State Department official said and the department spokesperson confirmed to CNN that a global warning was sent to all US embassies before the Soleimani strike happened, the warning was not directed at specific embassies and did not signal an imminent attack.

According to CNN, one senior State Department said they were “blindsided” when the Trump administration argued that the Soleimani strike was justified due to an imminent threat to blow up US embassies.

Despite senior Trump administration officials repeatedly insisting that US embassies in the Middle East were under threat, sources told CNN that State Department officials are unclear of the specific nature of that threat and added that the department failed to provide analysis that those embassies faced an imminent threat.

Former State Department officials also told CNN that the department didn’t operate as it usually does in an “imminent threat” situation, given how it would typically issue an explicit warning to diplomats overseas, take follow-up measures to restrict their movements or actively weigh whether to evacuate staff.

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.

A day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “we don’t know precisely when and we don’t know precisely where” the supposedly imminent attacks plotted by Soleimani would’ve occurred, Fox News aired the President’s interview with Laura Ingraham Friday where he claimed that his administration needed to kill Soleimani in order to prevent an “imminent” threat.

Read CNN’s report here.

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: