Jake Tapper put Donald Trump's claim that Qasem Soleimani was assassinated because he was targeting four specific embassies under the light, where it wilted rapidly. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is making the rounds to deal with the claim Trump made on Laura Ingraham's show on Friday that four embassies were being targeted for attack by Soleimani.
After spouting canned talking points praising the units carrying out the attack, Tapper pushed him on whether there was specific intelligence that supported Trump's claim.
"There was intelligence that they — there was an attempt to target the embassy in Baghdad," Esper replied. This is something we all knew because the protests at and subsequent attempt to besiege the embassy in Iraq were carried out by Iranian militiamen. That's no surprise, and you didn't even need a security clearance to know that. They had also left the embassy at the time Soleimani was attacked.
But wait! There's more. "What the president said with regard to the four embassies is what I believe as well," Esper explained. "He said he believed that they probably… could have been targeting the embassies in the regional. I believe that as well, as did other national security team members, and that is why I deployed thousands of additional paratroopers in the region to reinforce our embassy in Baghdad and other embassies in the region."
The word "believe" is carrying a lot of weight in that answer, and so it's probably good to point out that there are a lot of things people believe that have no facts as a foundation for that belief.
When Tapper pushed Esper on whether there was any intelligence to back up the action, Esper replied, "What the president said is that he believed and said he could have been targeting, all of those things that I believe as well.”
He then went on to repeat the same claims he opened with about what a bad man Soleimani is.
We all know that Trump just invented something to say to Fox News viewers that had no basis in fact, but having the Secretary of Defense (acting or otherwise) bolster the lie just confirms that nothing this administration says can be believed. Nothing.