WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other administration officials joined President Donald Trump in trying to draw attention to dissent in Iran instead of lingering questions about the scale of the threat used to justify a drone strike on Iran’s top military leader.
Esper added to the uncertainty over the intelligence behind this month’s killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani when he said Sunday that he had seen no hard evidence that four American embassies had been under possible threat. Trump said last Friday that Soleimani had been planning such an attack.
In appearances on Sunday news shows, both Esper and national security adviser Robert O’Brien said they agreed that Iran might have hit more than just the U.S. Embassy in the Iraqi capital. “It is certainly consistent with the intelligence to assume that they would have hit embassies in at least four countries,” O’Brien said.
But Esper, when asked whether there was a specific piece of evidence, replied: “I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies.” And in response to a question about whether Trump was “embellishing” the threat, Esper said, “I don’t believe so.”