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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN's "New Day" on Friday that the U.S. strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was meant to disrupt an "imminent" attack against Americans in the Middle East.

"It was the time to take this action so that we could disrupt this plot, deter further aggression from Qasem Soleimani and the Iranian regime — as well as to attempt to de-escalate the situation. The risk of doing nothing was enormous. The intelligence community made that assessment, and President Trump acted decisively last night."

The state of play: Pompeo largely refused to elaborate on the details of the alleged Iranian plot, including the timing, only stating that it was centered "in the region" and not against the U.S. homeland.

  • He said that Soleimani was plotting a "big action" that could have put hundreds of American lives at risk.

Why it matters, via Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan: Soleimani had already cost hundreds of American lives over the years and was among the Middle East's most feared powers.

  • A source in close contact with Trump administration senior national security officials tells Axios that one scenario they are especially concerned about — and have been prepared for — is Iran launching cyberattacks.
  • That's the most likely way that Iran could retaliate stateside.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
36 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Report: John Kerry plans to visit China ahead of Biden's climate summit

John Kerry. Photo: Zach Gibson / Stringer

John Kerry, President Biden's special climate envoy, is expected to travel to China next week for meetings with officials aimed at boosting collaboration, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Why it matters: China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter and the U.S. is second-largest.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hold steady at 65,000 per day — CDC declares racism "a serious public health threat" — WHO official: Brazil is dealing with "raging inferno" of a COVID outbreak
  2. Vaccines: America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall — Pfizer asks FDA to expand COVID vaccine authorization to adolescents — CDC says Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply will drop 80% next week.
  3. Economy: Treasury says over 156 million stimulus payments sent out since March — More government spending expected as IMF projects 6% global GDP growth.
  4. Politics: Supreme Court ends California's coronavirus restrictions on home religious meetings
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Second senior Matt Gaetz aide resigns amid federal investigation

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) walking out of the Capitol in January 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Devin Murphy, Rep. Matt Gaetz's legislative director, has stepped down amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations against the Florida Republican congressman, the New York Times first reported and Axios has confirmed.

The latest: "It's been real," Murphy wrote in an email, obtained by Axios, to Republican legislative directors on Saturday morning, with the subject line: "Well...bye."