Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) implied on Thursday that President Trump may have ordered the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani to distract the public from impeachment proceedings.
“So what if Trump wants war, knows this leads to war and needs the distraction?” Omar wrote on Twitter. “Real question is, will those with congressional authority step in and stop him? I know I will.”
Analysts from several news outlets echoed the assumption. CNN analyst Karen Finney wrote that “today’s air strike feels like attempt to create a distraction from impeachment and build support for Trump,” while MSNBC contributor Joyce Alene said it was “highly possible then timing of tonight’s attack was meant as a distraction.”
President Trump ordered an airstrike on a convoy near Baghdad International Airport carrying Soleimani on Thursday evening. As head of the Quds Force, a U.S.-designated terror group, Soleimani led intelligence and counterespionage efforts for the IRGC. Also killed in the strike was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia leader who led a days-long siege against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
The U.S. State Department issued a warning to American citizens to leave Iraq in the wake of the attack.
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately,” the agency wrote on Twitter. “Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on CNN on Friday that Trump had ordered the strike due to an “intelligence-based assessment” warning of an “imminent attack” by Iranian forces in the region.