According to two separate reports this week, President Donald Trump may have had the impeachment process on his mind when giving the go-ahead for the drone strike that assassinated Iranian military and intelligence official Qasem Soleimani last week.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported: “Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said.”
The Journal does not name any of the senators in question, but it does follow a similar report from the New York Times on Tuesday that said the president has been “pressured to take a harder line on Iran by some Republican senators whose support he needs now more than ever amid an impeachment battle.”
While it seems unlikely any Republican senators would flip to being in favor of impeachment, it’s possible that they would support Democrats’ arguments around process, including whether to allow witnesses like former national security advisor John Bolton to testify. It’s also interesting that known hawk Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) appears to be the only lawmaker briefed on the assassination before it occurred. Graham told Fox News, “I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida. I appreciate being brought into the orbit.”
For Trump’s attack on Soleimani to be legal under international law, there needed to be an imminent threat against the United States from Iran. But with this new reporting, and Pompeo’s dodges on the definition of imminent, it seems more and more likely that the assassination was a political calculation rather than a necessity to protect the country. If true, that could possibly be yet another impeachable offense committed by this president, but as Democrats have learned, proving what was in Trump’s mind when he acted is exceedingly difficult, and unlikely to succeed in a Senate controlled by highly partisan Republicans.