14 Jan 2020

Killing Soleimani 'legitimate,' Trump had authority - US top attorney

11:09 am on 14 January 2020

President Donald Trump clearly had authority to kill Qassem Soleimani, US Attorney General William Barr says, adding that the White House consulted with his department before the strike on the Iranian commander.

The Space Force has been something of a pet project for President Trump.

Photo: AFP

Barr told reporters that Soleimani was a "legitimate military target" and the strike was a "legitimate act of self-defence".

"The Department of Justice was consulted and frankly I don't think it was a close call," Barr said. "I think the president clearly had the authority to act as he did under numerous different bases. We had a situation where the Iranians had already embarked on a series of escalating violent action taken against our allies, taken against the American people, our troops, with the avowed purpose of driving us out of the Middle East."

Since the 3 January strike that killed Soleimani, critics have questioned the Trump administration's assertion that Soleimani was planning an imminent attack against the United States, the timing of the strike, coordination within the administration and Trump's decision not to notify Congress, which holds the power to declare war, of his plans.

Earlier on Monday, Trump brushed aside many concerns, in a tweet saying it "doesn't really matter" if a threat was impending.

"The general in charge of these efforts, Soleimani, was clearly a legitimate military target. We had a very brief window of time to carry out the attack," Barr said. "This was a legitimate act of self-defence because it disrupted ongoing attacks that were being conducted - a campaign against the Americans - and it re-established deterrence."

- Reuters

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs