Trump reportedly connected impeachment trial, Soleimani airstrike

Trump was impeached for putting political interests above national security interests. It'd be amazing if did the same thing during the impeachment process.
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By Steve Benen

There's no shortage of concerns about why, exactly, Donald Trump risked a war by approving an airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. There is, however, one overarching concern: it's hard not to wonder whether the American president, concerned about his impeachment crisis, put his political interests above U.S. national security interests.

Indeed, there would be a degree of irony to the circumstances: Trump was impeached, after all, for executing a Ukraine scheme in which he's accused of prioritizing his domestic electoral considerations over our national security agenda. It would be truly amazing to see him effectively do the same thing during the impeachment process.

It's against this backdrop that the Wall Street Journal had this tidbit in its report on the White House national security team and its response to the Iranian threat:

Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said.

Some caveats are probably in order. The WSJ added this deep in the article -- the 29th paragraph, to be exact -- and the newspaper didn't treat the revelation as a major scoop. What's more, there are no direct quotes, and the reporting hasn't been independently verified.

But if it's correct, it helps bring the bigger picture into sharper focus.

Indeed, asked why Trump approved this airstrike, top administration officials have tripped over each other, offering a series of evolving and contradictory explanations for the president's decision. This, naturally, has further eroded their tarnished credibility, while casting doubt on the official White House explanation for the mission.

But then there's the Wall Street Journal's reporting, which makes far more sense. With a looming Senate impeachment trial, and Trump concerned about lawmakers possibly bringing his presidency to a premature end, he was under pressure from Republican senators who wanted him to "deal with" Iran.

Trump wanted to impress those senators and keep them on his side, the story goes, so he took steps to shore up their support.

Expect to hear plenty more along these lines in the coming days and weeks.

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