PALO ALTO, Calif. - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to a roomful of college students at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, while the Trump administration continues to defend its justification for killing Iran's top general Qasem Soleimani.
“There was in fact a set of imminent attacks that were being plotted by Qasem Soleimani, it was unmistakable," said Pompeo, after a student asked if the public can trust the intelligence community.
As part of his short remarks, Secretary Pompeo said the drone attack on Soleimani was part of a "bigger strategy." “We now enjoy a great position of strength regarding Iran that’s as good as it has ever been, Iran has never been in a place it is today," said Pompeo. "We have re-established deterrence but we know it’s not everlasting.”
Last week, President Trump claimed Soleimani was targeting four U.S. embassies. But on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper went on the Sunday network news programs and said, he didn't see specific evidence of this. “What the president said with regard to the four embassies is what I believe as well," said Esper on CNN's "State of the Union." "He said he believed they probably, could have been targeting the embassies in the region.”
Esper went on to say there was intelligence to suggest Iran was planning strikes on several targets, including the embassy in Baghdad. A few republicans and democrats including Bay Area congresswoman Jackie Speier question the administration's justification, especially after Esper's comments. “Based on what they said was imminent danger, they now walked back," said Speier. "The president said there were four embassies targeted, that’s been walked back. Frightening when you realize you cannot trust what comes out of the President’s mouth.”
The President tweeted this Monday morning:
A few students we spoke to after the speech, were split on Pompeo's comments. “I do wonder if they’re almost creating the strategy around the president’s actions or if the president’s actions are part of a long term vision,' said Christian Martin, a Stanford freshman.
“After hearing him speak, I do feel more confident about the people we have in power and I do feel like our position on the event was the right one," said Harshal Agrawal, a Stanford freshman.