President Donald Trump authorized the United States military to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani nearly seven months ago with certain conditions, NBC News reported Monday.
According to NBC News, Trump directed the military to kill Soleimani if any Americans died as a result of Iranian aggression. Trump also requested that he give the final sign-off before the military took action against Soleimani.
Killing Soleimani was an idea first seriously floated last June by then-national security adviser John Bolton, who urged the president to take action against Iran for shooting down an American drone. According to NBC, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also wanted Trump to take out Soleimani at the time.
But the president did not approve, a source told NBC. Instead, Trump said "that's only on the table if they hit Americans," the source said.
And that is exactly what Soleimani did last month when his terrorist proxies attacked an Iraqi airbase, killing one U.S. contractor and injuring four American servicemen. Soleimani followed up the strike just days later by initiating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that forced Trump to deploy military reinforcements.
The NBC report claims the revelation calls into question Trump's justification for authorizing the airstrike that killed Soleimani. However, if anything, NBC's report demonstrates the president exercised discernment last summer while being pressured from his most senior advisers to kill Soleimani.
Trump and Pompeo have also said Soleimani was planning additional "imminent" attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East, forcing the U.S. to take action before Soleimani could orchestrate the killing of additional U.S. troops and American allies.