Speaking at a GOP fundraising dinner with high-dollar Republican donors at Mar-a-Lago Friday evening, President Donald Trump recounted minute-by-minute details of the US strike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, according to audio obtained by CNN.
According to CNN, Trump offered new details about the strike that killed the Iranian commander, which exacerbated tensions in the region, almost triggered an all-out war with Iran and led to an ongoing dispute with Congress over his constitutional ability to wage war.
In his speech, Trump claimed that Soleimani was “saying bad things about our country” before the strike, which led to his decision to authorize his killing.
“How much of this shit do we have to listen to?” Trump asked. “How much are we going to listen to?”
Trump did not describe an “imminent threat” that led to his decision to kill Soleimani, the justification used by administration officials in the aftermath of the attack.
Instead, he described Soleimani as a “noted terrorist” who “was down on our list” and “was supposed to be in his country” before traveling to other nations in the region.
Trump described in detail watching remotely as Soleimani arrived at Baghdad International Airport, falsely claiming that Soleimani was meeting “the head of Hezbollah” (the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group).
He went on to recount listening to military officials as they watched the strike from “cameras that are miles in the sky.”
“They’re together sir,” Trump recalled the military officials saying. “Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds. No emotion. ‘2 minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They’re in the car, they’re in an armored vehicle. Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. 30 seconds. 10, 9, 8 …’ ”
“Then all of a sudden, boom,” he went on. “‘They’re gone, sir. Cutting off.’ ”
“I said, where is this guy?” Trump continued. “That was the last I heard from him.”
Trump’s detailed recounting of the strike goes further than what he or other officials have said about the evening in early January that took out Iran’s top military and intelligence commander.
In his remarks, Trump also repeated claims that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died “screaming” following a US raid on his compound.
“He was screaming, going crazy,” Trump said, according to CNN. Other US officials have declined to provide further details of al-Baghdadi’s final minutes.