President Trump attempted to justify his decision to authorize the strike that killed top Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani by arguing that the move was intended “to stop a war,” during a press conference at Mar-a-Lago Friday.
Trump’s move was polarizing enough to not only draw ire from congressional Democrats who didn’t get a heads up on the strike before it occurred Thursday evening, but also from Fox News hosts such as Geraldo Rivera and Tucker Carlson, the latter of whom believes that the U.S. is “lumbering towards a new Middle East war.”
While railing against Soleimani for “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel,” Trump boasted about how his administration “caught him in the act and terminated him.”
“Under my leadership America’s policy is unambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American. We will find you. We will eliminate you,” Trump said. “We will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans and our allies.”
Trump then insisted that the strike that killed Soleimani, who he said “made the death of innocent people his sick passion,” means that his “reign of terror is over” and that it should “have been done long ago.”
The President went on to argue that Soleimani was killed “to stop a war” and that his administration does not seek regime change.
“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” Trump said. “I have deep respect for the Iranian people. They are a remarkable people with an incredible and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change however the region including use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors must end and it must end now.”
After touting that the “United States has the best military by far anywhere in the world” as well as the “best intelligence,” Trump said that he’s “ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary” when it comes to Iran.
“Under my leadership we have destroyed the ISIS territorial caliphate, and recently Americans special operations forces killed the terrorist leader known as Al Baghdadi,” Trump said. “The world is a safer place without these monsters. America will always pursue the interests of good people, great people, great souls while seeking peace, harmony and friendship with all of the nations of the world.”
Earlier Friday, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei said publicly that Iran would retaliate against U.S. troops in the area, whom he called “insidious beasts.” Trump’s latest remarks come after the U.S. State Department urged all U.S. citizens in Iraq to depart the country immediately as the region braces for possible retaliation from the Iranian military.
Watch Trump’s remarks below:
Trump: Soleimani was killed "to stop a war" pic.twitter.com/k6Bv92xz6j
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) January 3, 2020