Jan 6, 2020

Adam Schiff says House should hold open hearings on Iran

Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told the Washington Post Monday that the House should hold open hearings on President Trump's decision to target Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and its ensuing aftermath.

Why it matters: Schiff's suggestion comes after Trump reiterated a threat to Iranian cultural sites as possible retaliation during an Air Force One gaggle with reporters and threatened deep sanctions on Iraq if it moves to limit the U.S. military presence there.

  • The Post's Greg Sargent notes that hearings could allow House Democrats to "grill Pentagon officials on whether Trump’s threats represent real planning ... and on whether in their view, such threats could recklessly lead to more negative consequences."

What Schiff's saying: "The president has put us on a path where we may be at war with Iran. That requires the Congress to fully engage."

  • "I'm certainly not satisfied that the intelligence supports the conclusion that the killing of Soleimani was going to either prevent attacks on the United States or reduce the risk to American lives."
  • On Trump's threat to Iranian cultural sites: "None of that could come out of the Pentagon. Absolutely no way."

The big picture: U.S. military leaders were "stunned" that Trump gave the order to kill Soleimani, a step they viewed as the "most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq," according to the New York Times.

  • Trump administration officials have since said Trump had little choice because Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on U.S. and allied forces in the region, but they have presented no evidence of such plans.

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Trump's Air Force One bombast on Iran

Trump talks to the press in the cabin of Air Force One in 2018. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump came in hot during a half-hour conversation with the White House press pool on Air Force One — most of it off the record — as he returned from Mar-a-Lago to Washington on Sunday.

What happened: He repeated his threat against Iranian cultural sites: "They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way."

Go deeperArrowJan 6, 2020

The Trump administration's mixed messages on the Soleimani strike

Pomeo, Esper and Milley conduct a briefing from Mar-a-Lago. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

In the five days since the U.S. stunned the world by killing Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, top officials and the president himself have shared varying pictures of why that decision was made — and what they plan to do next.

Why it matters: Those mixed messages have generated doubt among Americans and allies over the "imminent threat" Soleimani posed, outrage in Tehran over Trump's threat of war crimes, and confusion in Baghdad about a possible U.S. withdrawal.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020

The latest: Iran general who replaced Soleimani vows revenge for death

Photo: Mohammed Sawaf/AFP via Getty Images

Iran's new top commander Esmail Ghaani, who replaced Gen. Qasem Soleimani after he died in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, pledged during a televised address Monday to avenge the general's killing, AP reports.

The latest: Ghaani‘s declaration that God "has promised to get his revenge" and that "certainly actions will be taken" came hours after Iran said it would no longer abide by limits on its uranium enrichment and Iraq's parliament voted to call on the Iraqi government to expel U.S. troops from the country over Friday's airstrike.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 6, 2020