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Pompeo defends U.S. killing of Iranian, Democrats ask 'Why now?'

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 5, 2020 - Duration: 01:40s

Pompeo defends U.S. killing of Iranian, Democrats ask 'Why now?'

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday defended the intelligence assessment that led the United States to kill Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, as Democratic lawmakers questioned whether there was an imminent threat.

Zachary Goelman reports.

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Pompeo defends U.S. killing of Iranian, Democrats ask 'Why now?'

(SOUNDBITE) (English) EXCHANGE BETWEEN CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT MARGARET BRENNAN AND U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: BRENNAN: "Were all of the president's national security advisers in full agreement that Qassem Soleimani needed to be killed?" POMPEO: "Yes." U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday (January 5) defended the decision to launch the airstrike that killed a top Iranian commander.

The Trump administration said it targeted Major-General Qassem Soleimani to prevent an imminent threat against American lives.

But Pompeo would not say definitively whether killing Soleimani averted that threat.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) EXCHANGE BETWEEN CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT MARGARET BRENNAN AND U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: BRENNAN: "Is it still imminent?" POMPEO: "Margaret, we continue to prepare for whatever the Iranian regime may put in front of us within the next ten minutes, within the next ten days, and within the next ten weeks." Pompeo's comments come a day after the White House sent Congress formal notification of Friday's strike - as required by law - amid complaints from Democrats that Trump did not notify lawmakers or seek advance approval for the attack.

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said the operation was legal and that Justice Department lawyers had signed off on the plan.

The Pentagon on Friday briefed staffers from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

Pompeo said intelligence has since been shared with leaders in Congress and he expects they will be briefed again this week.

Republicans largely support the president's action.

Many Democrats remain unconvinced.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY, SAYING: "He does not have authorization from Congress to go to war with Iran.

And that sets us on a course to do just that." Democratic Senator Chris Murphy sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He said there was a clear reason why previous administrations abstained from targeting Iranian officials.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY, SAYING: 'We do not generally execute high-level political figures of sovereign nations, in part because we know that that opens a Pandora's box that may expose American officials to assassination." Iran has vowed to retaliate for the U.S. strike.

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