Trump reportedly told associates he killed Qassem Soleimani because he was under pressure from GOP senators before his impeachment trial

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  • President Donald Trump told associates that he assassinated Iran's top military leader last week in part to appease Republican senators who will play a crucial role in his Senate impeachment trial, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

  • In a lengthy piece detailing how the president's top advisers coalesced behind the strike on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, The Journal reported that Trump had told associates he felt pressure from the senators.

  • One of Trump's most outspoken supporters, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, appears to be the only congressional lawmaker Trump briefed about his plan to assassinate Soleimani in the days leading up to the strike.

  • Graham has criticized the president's foreign-policy choices in the past — most notably Trump's withdrawal of troops from northern Syria and his handling of Saudi Arabia.

  • Publicly, Trump has said he approved the strike on Soleimani because the general was plotting to bomb the US Embassy in Iraq. The administration has not provided evidence to support this claim.

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President Donald Trump told associates that he assassinated Iran's top military leader last week in part to appease Republican senators who'll play a crucial role in his Senate impeachment trial, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In a lengthy piece detailing how the president's top advisers coalesced behind the strike on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, The Journal reported that Trump had told associates he felt pressured to satisfy senators who were pushing for stronger US action against Soleimani and who will run defense for him on impeachment.

One of Trump's most outspoken supporters, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, appears to be the only congressional lawmaker Trump briefed about his plan to assassinate Soleimani in the days leading up to the strike.

"I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida," Graham told Fox News. "I appreciate being brought into the orbit."

The South Carolina Republican, an Iran hawk, celebrated the controversial strike, which the administration did not seek congressional authorization to carry out. After Iran retaliated by hitting US-occupied Iraqi bases on Tuesday, Graham called the move "an act of war."

Graham has criticized the president's foreign-policy choices in the past — most notably Trump's withdrawal of troops from northern Syria and his handling of Saudi Arabia following the country's murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident.

Trump said on Thursday that he approved the strike on Soleimani because the general was plotting to bomb the US Embassy in Iraq.

But the administration hasn't released any evidence to support the claim that Iran was planning such an attack on the embassy, or any other imminent attack.

During an interview with Fox News on Thursday night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration didn't know "precisely when" or "precisely where" an attack would have targeted.

Democratic lawmakers — and a few Republicans — were infuriated by a classified briefing they received from the Trump administration on Wednesday concerning the US strike that killed Soleimani and a top Iraqi militant leader.

The lawmakers said they weren't provided any evidence of an imminent and specific threat posed by Soleimani — evidence of which is required to legally launch an attack without congressional authorization.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee called the briefing, which Pompeo helped lead, "probably the worst briefing, at least on a military issue, I've seen in nine years I've been here."

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