Esper: Trump believed Iran was targeting U.S. embassies

President Donald Trump “didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence” for claiming four U.S. embassies were being targeted by Iran, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday.”What the president said was he believed it probably and could have been attacks against additional embassies,” Esper said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that probably, my expectation was, they were going to go after our embassies,”

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Esper later acknowledged he hadn’t seen specific evidence suggesting attacks on four embassies.The Trump administration had justified the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq by claiming there was an “imminent threat” to U.S. personnel and facilities in the region.Also appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, Esper defended the killing of Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike.”The bottom line is we had exquisite intelligence that can only be shared with the ‘Gang of Eight,'” he said.

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Now that Soleimani is dead, the “threat has been disrupted,” Esper said. “In fact, a very, very senior person from the intelligence community said the risk of inaction is greater than the risk of action. That was compelling for me.”Asked if other Iranian leaders are still potential targets, Esper demurred.”We will exercise everything we need to do to protect the American people, to protect our forces, to protect our embassy,” he said.

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