Last week, in retaliation for the U.S. airstrike that killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani, Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi air bases housing U.S. forces. The next morning, Donald Trump delivered a strange speech, littered with unnecessary falsehoods, though the president stressed an important bottom line.
"I'm pleased to inform you, the American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime," Trump said near the outset of his remarks. "We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases."
As NBC News reported last night, those remarks may not have been altogether accurate.
Several U.S. service members were treated for concussions after Iran launched ballistic missiles earlier this month in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. killing of a top Iranian commander, the Pentagon said Thursday. [...]In the days after the attack, 11 service members have been transported to two hospitals, in Germany and Kuwait, for follow-up screening, [Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement].
The same statement added that while no U.S. service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack, "several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed."
All of which raises the question of why, exactly, the American president made a point to say "no Americans were harmed" in the Iranian missile strike, given the evidence to the contrary.
It's possible that the explanation is benign. Trump spoke less than a day after the strike, and it's likely that a detailed damage assessment was still underway. Maybe the president didn't have the whole story.
What's more, maybe some of the U.S. servicemembers who needed treatment weren't transported to hospitals right away, and they started feeling ill effects in the days following the attack.
The more unsettling explanation would be if Trump had been indifferent to the facts -- it certainly wouldn't have been the first time -- to the point that he prioritized bragging over presenting the public with the truth.
Those expecting a full White House explanation will probably be disappointed: Trump and his team aren't even willing to explain why he approved the Soleimani mission. Those waiting for them to clarify why the president's post-strike comments were wrong will probably be waiting for quite a while.