Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Sunday that he did not see intelligence that supported President Trump’s comments that the Iranian commander killed in a U.S. drone strike was plotting attacks against four U.S. embassies.
Esper said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he shared Trump’s view that planning was underway, but did not cite intelligence information he saw to support the claims.
“What the president said was he believed there probably and could’ve been attacks against additional embassies, I shared that view, I know other members of the national security team shared that view, that’s why I deployed thousands of American paratroopers to the Middle East to reinforce our embassy in Baghdad and other sites throughout the region,” Esper said.
NEWS: @EsperDod tells @margbrennan he "didn't see" specific evidence showing Iran planned to strike 4 U.S. embassies, despite @realDonaldTrump saying an attack at multiple embassies was “imminent." Watch more of Esper's interview on @FacetheNation today. pic.twitter.com/1Nud8waok1
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 12, 2020
He added that Trump did not cite a “specific piece of evidence.”
“Are you saying there wasn’t one?, CBS’s Margaret Brennan asked.
“I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies,” Esper responded. “What I’m saying is I share the presidents’ view.”
He added that administration officials “do not expect any further attacks.”
He did not, however, go so far as to confirm intelligence supported the claim.
“I’m not going to discuss intelligence matters on the show,” Esper said.
“The president did,” host Jake Tapper responded.
Esper replied that that is the “president’s prerogative.”
When asked if the president is “embellishing,” Esper said he doesn’t believe so.
“At the end of the day, Soleimani was planning an attack against multiple sites,” he said, including “at least” the embassy in Baghdad.”
Esper added that “taking [Soleimani] off the battlefield..was the right thing to do.”
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