Donald Trump’s lie about the supposedly “imminent threat” to four U.S. embassies from Iran’s Gen. Qasem Soleimani “briefed” to Fox News, not Congress, was exposed by CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday. Almost as disturbing was how Fox anchor Laura Ingraham played accomplice.
On Friday’s The Ingraham Angle, Trump was asked about the supposedly imminent threat posed by Soleimani that prompted his assassination by the U.S.. “Don't the American people have a right to know what specifically was targeted without revealing methods and sources?” host Ingraham asked. And if there were “large-scale attacks” planned on other U.S. facilities, “why can't we reveal that to the American people? Wouldn't that help your case?”
TRUMP: I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies. And I think that probably Baghdad already started. They were really amazed that we came in with that kind of a force. We came in with very powerful force and drove them out. You know that ended almost immediately. But Baghdad certainly would have been the lead. But I think it would have been four embassies, could have been military bases, could have been a lot of other things too. But it was imminent and then all of a sudden, he was gone.
But as Tapper pointed out yesterday, that was not what was briefed to Congress by Trump’s intelligence officials. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) specifically said that yesterday on CNN but he more than hinted at it on Fox News last week. On January 8, he told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum that Trump officials claimed the specific threat was too sensitive to reveal to Congress, despite being in a secure facility (SCIF).
LEE: [W]hen we would ask them what was the nature of that attack, when and where would it have occurred, by whom would it have been carried out, they refused to answer the question. And they deferred it the same way they would if we weren’t in a classified environment, saying, well, we can’t talk about that. Well, we were in an underground bunker designed for that very purpose and they should have told us.
Ingraham made a half-hearted attempt to probe Trump's "revelation," which was met with Trump preening:
INGRAHAM: Why is Nancy Pelosi describing her briefing as dismissive and disdainful? Mike Lee said it was insulting, the intel briefing. What wasn't said to mollify the concerns of some of your strongest supporters like Mike Lee?
TRUMP: Yes, he is a great supporter. He is a friend of mine. He called me just a little while ago and he said, you know, I just wanted to get some more information and he was - look, I have also had calls from some of the senators, some of the congressmen said it was the single best briefing. One person said they've been there for 10 years. It's the single best briefing they've ever had. One said 20 years, the single best military briefing they've ever had. I understand what Mike had, Mike wanted certain things said and we just couldn't say, and we could probably say maybe individually to him and he's certainly a trustworthy person.
Rather than try to get to the bottom of this egregious discrepancy about a possible spark for war, Ingraham quickly worked to help bail Trump out. First, she suggested that Trump didn’t tell Congress because Democrats can’t be trusted (the way Fox News viewers can, apparently).
INGRAHAM: Are you worried that the Democrats can't be trusted with classified information because that's kind of what it sounded like when [Vice President] Pence gave that interview and talked about sources and methods the other day.
INGRAHAM: Speaking of sanctions, Ilhan Omar, I think said today that this is akin to economic warfare against Iran, even though she supports sanctions against Israel.
Later in the show, Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo validated Trump’s claim, saying, “We learned that four embassies were targeted by Soleimani.” Ingraham did not challenge the certainty.
Yesterday, Tapper had several revealing exchanges with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on State of the Union. Esper did his best to support Trump’s assertion but nonetheless gave away there was no intelligence about any imminent threat to four U.S. embassies, that the administration and Trump can’t get its story straight and that Trump cares more about Fox News than our Constitutional checks and balances:
TAPPER: President Trump said on Friday the Iranians were plotting to target four U.S. embassies, including the one in Baghdad.
Other administration officials say the intelligence was not that specific.
Was there specific intelligence that the Iranians were plotting to attack four U.S. embassies?
ESPER: Well, let me say one thing up front first, to your viewers, to the American people. The United States is safer today than we were just a few short weeks ago.
Why? Because we eliminated the world's foremost terrorists, Qasem Soleimani, who had the -- had the blood of hundreds of American service members on his hands. …
TAPPER: OK, what about the intelligence? Was there specific intelligence the Iranians were plotting to target four U.S. Embassies?
ESPER: There was intelligence that they had a -- there was an intent to target the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
What the president said with regard to the four embassies is what I believe as well. And he said he believed that they probably, that they could have been targeting the embassies in the region. I believe that as well, as did other national security team members.
TAPPER: But the question is not whether he posed a threat in an existential way, because he did. He -- I mean he'd been doing it for years.
But was there specific intelligence that he was plotting to attack four U.S. embassies? Did you see any intelligence like that?
ESPER: I'm not going to discuss intelligence matters here on the show.
Let me just say...
TAPPER: The president did, though.
ESPER: He was -- it's the president's prerogative.
But what the president said was, he believed. He said he could have been targeting, all those things that I believe as well, that the national security team believes as well.
TAPPER: The president has discussed probably that he believed -- and a belief is not the same thing as there was evidence. I mean, you could believe that Soleimani would have attacked the Eiffel Tower. That's not necessarily based in evidence.
ESPER: Well, there was evidence -- there was evidence that part of the attack would be against the United States Embassy.
TAPPER: In Baghdad?
ESPER: In Baghdad.
TAPPER: But what about the four embassies?
ESPER: I'm not going to discuss intelligence.
TAPPER: But many members of Congress from both parties have said that none of the briefings mentioned threats to four U.S. embassies. Why is President Trump telling this to FOX News, but the administration is not briefing Congress on this threat of four embassies, unless there was actually no specific intelligence that there was a threat to four embassies?
ESPER: The president never said there was specific intelligence to four different embassies.
TAPPER: He said he believed it.
ESPER: And they -- and I believed it too.
TAPPER: Four embassies? You believed that?
ESPER: What -- what -- I believe there were threat to more than -- to multiple embassies. That's -- that's why we reinforced embassies with additional troops.
Look, the bottom line is, we had exquisite intelligence that can only be shared with the Gang of Eight. So I understand the frustration of many members of Congress, but was shared with that Gang of Eight.
TAPPER: President Trump said it on TV on Friday.
ESPER: ... Soleimani was planning an attack, a broader attack against multiple sites, to include embassy, and at least the United States Embassy in Baghdad, and that it was going to result in open hostilities.
Taking him off the battlefield, a legitimate military target, was the right thing to do.
TAPPER: Well, first of all, what you're saying is not the same thing that President Trump said.
President Trump said he believed there were four U.S. embassies targeted. You're talking about something else, that you -- one embassy and maybe a broader threat to others.
Second of all, you're saying that you couldn't tell something to Congress that President Trump was willing to say to FOX News. And that doesn't really make a lot of sense.
ESPER: We briefed Congress, the Gang of Eight, who are the legitimate representatives of the broader Congress in affairs like this, when you have exquisite intelligence. They were briefed.
Sadly, these two segments tell you almost everything you need to know about Fox News and Donald Trump.
Below, you can watch Trump lie on the January 10, 2020 The Ingraham Angle and see Tapper expose the lie on the January 12, 2020 State of the Union.
I will say this, though. The way Fox typically handles this kind of thing is with a brief report doing a news show, like Special Report or even America’s Newsroom, and then, after Fox can say it reported the news, the network ignores it until something happens and they HAVE to discuss it, usually once they find a way to spin it.
No worries, it’s day 14 of him being voted out soon.
The answer appears to be he doesn’t. He’s only using the intelligence community for their credibility to wallpaper over his wag the dog lies.
I’ve joked in the past about Ellen watching Fox News so I don’t have to even though I watched it a lot anyhow. But now that slogan is quite accurate as I find TrumpTV™️ unwatchable anymore. More than 10 or 15 minutes and I 🤮. This Laura Ingraham segment is a perfect example.