President Trump’s decision to approve the killing of Iran’s top military commander followed repeated efforts by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge the president to take more aggressive against the country, The Washington Post reported Sunday. The secretary spoke to Trump every day last week leading up to the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Thursday, U.S. officials said. Vice President Mike Pence was reportedly also part of the effort. An official said that Pompeo was “morose” last summer after Trump declined to take military action against Iran after it downed a U.S. surveillance drone. Trump’s wariness of being seen as hesitant in his Iranian policy gave Pompeo the opportunity to push for more forceful action. The potential consequences of the airstrike are grave, including another protracted regional war with the Middle East, attacks on U.S. personnel, and a suspension to the fight against ISIS.
U.S. officials said that none of the potential risks posed by the airstrike stopped Pompeo from pursuing his agenda, citing a particular fixation on Iran for a decade of his service in government. Shortly after an Iran-backed attack that killed a U.S. defense contractor in Iraq, senior U.S. officials said that Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley traveled to Trump’s private club in Florida on Dec. 29 where two U.S. military officials discussed ramping up military responses to Iran, including the possibility of killing Soleimani.