Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

QUESTION: Meanwhile, let’s go out to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, kind enough to be joining us live at this very important moment in American military and security history. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. Can you bring us back to that decision when you realized you would have a shot at General Soleimani and you wanted to take that shot?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Brian, good morning.

QUESTION: Good morning.

SECRETARY POMPEO: President Trump made the decision, a serious decision which was necessary. There was an imminent attack. The orchestrator, the primary motivator for the attack was Qasem Soleimani, an attempt to disrupt that plot. You all have been talking this morning about the history of who Qasem Soleimani is. He’s got hundreds of American lives’ blood on his hands. But what was sitting before us was his travels throughout the region and his efforts to make a significant strike against Americans. There would have been many Muslims killed as well – Iraqis, people in other countries as well. It was a strike that was aimed at both disrupting that plot, deterring further aggression, and we hope setting the conditions for de-escalation as well.

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At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

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SECRETARY OF DEFENSE MARK T. ESPER: Well, good morning, everyone. First of all, Happy New Year. I'd note that this is my third meeting of the day, and we'll – what I want to do on my third meeting of the day is spend it with you all to give you an update as to where things stand and how things look in the coming days.

So these are difficult issues that the country is facing, and it requires, you know, an astute knowledge of what happens and how we operate. And you all have done a good job in terms of covering this. So, I thank you for that.

Let me just say up front, add a little bit to the fact sheet that [the staff] gave us. As you know, last Friday, U.S. forces were attacked by Kata'ib Hezbollah in – at a base near Kirkuk. Thirty-one rockets fired, one American killed, regrettably. Several wounded, and some of our Iraqi partners were wounded as well.

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U.S. Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAFTF-CR-CC) 19.2, deploy to Iraq to bolster security at the U.S. Embassy and ensure the safety of American citizens, Dec. 31, 2019. The SPMAGTF-CR-CC is designed to move with speed and precision to support operations throughout the Middle East. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Robert G. Gavaldon)   more...
Grafton Thomas Injured at Least Five People in Attack During Hanukkah Observance New York - Grafton Thomas has been charged with five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill, a federal hate crime, related to his machete attack during Shabbat and Hanukkah observances at a Rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, on the night of Dec. 28, 2019. Thomas is expected to be presented in White Plains federal court later today.

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ALAMEDA, Calif. — The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) returned home to Alameda following an 82-day counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Last Wednesday the national security cutter crew offloaded more than 18,000 pounds of cocaine in San Diego estimated to be worth more than $312 million. The drugs represented seven separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions and disruptions by five Coast Guard cutter crews patrolling international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America between mid-October and early December.

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