It’s almost fun to watch Trump administration officials try to justify the lunatic behavior and wilful lies of the president.
The extremes to which they must bend the fabric of reality to match the rantings of their boss provide for a simultaneously amusing and terrifying sight to behold.
Take, for example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
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Mind you, even without a connection to Donald Trump, this rapture-anticipating Christian Zionist is horrifying to contemplate in his current position since the idea that he is using the levers of American diplomacy to advance the biblically-predicted apocalypse that he believes is imminent chills one to the very core.
Still, in today’s screwed up world, one can derive a small pleasure in watching Secretary Pompeo squirm as he is forced to walk back the worst of Trump’s tweeted excesses while trying not to seem to contradict his boss.
Pompeo couldn’t wiggle his way out during a morning press conference today when a reporter pressed him on the details of the “imminent threat” posed by Iran that led to Trump’s decision to assassinate Major General Qassim Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
The existence of such an imminent threat is the only thing that prevents the clear classification of the purposeful murder of a foreign official as an international war crime and a violation of U.S. law, as well.
As the reporter urged Pompeo to give the specific details of the nature of the Iranian threat and exactly how imminent it actually was, the Secretary of State struggled to find an answer that wouldn’t lead anyone with an ounce of awareness to conclude that the entire excuse was invented ex post facto to cover up the president’s impulsive and lawless decision.
Pompeo certainly tried, saying that there were “multiple pieces of information” presented to Trump that justified his fatal decision and that there were “continuing efforts on behalf of this terrorist to build out a network of campaign activities that were going to lead potentially to the death of many more Americans.”
OK, but what exactly were those supposed pieces of information? How real is the potentiality of which the Secretary speaks? How are those “continuing efforts” any different than what Iran has been doing since Trump unilaterally torpedoed the Iran nuclear deal hammered out by his predecessor President Obama along with our European allies?
And, most importantly, where is the evidence that any new attack was actually imminent?
In the end, Pompeo didn’t provide answers to any of those highly pertinent questions. Instead, he pointed back to actions likely carried out by Iranian proxy-forces at the end of December that led to the death of an American civilian contractor.
“We know what happened at the end of last year in December, ultimately leading to the death of an American. If you are looking for immanence, you need look no further than the days that led up to the strike,” Pompeo said, confusing the future inherent in the word “imminent” with the past actions that suggest an illegal retaliatory motive for Trump’s actions.
If that’s the best the administration can come up with to justify the president’s decision to violate all accepted rule of law in this situation, then the Trump family had better start booking rooms at The Hague for the anticipated International Court of Justice war crimes trial.
Pompeo’s remarks led Congressman Don Beyer to take to Twitter to point out the administration’s seeming abandonment of its earlier claims of specific, credible, and, yes, imminent threats that forced Trump’s hand in making his murderous decision.
The Administration appears to be completely abandoning their previous claim that the killing was ordered to prevent specific attacks about which they had intelligence. https://t.co/cMBfhxy86y
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) January 7, 2020
Unfortunately, any pleasure that can be derived from watching Pompeo squirm as the public scrutiny of the president’s actions forces him into uncomfortable contortions is mitigated by the knowledge that in the end neither he nor Donald Trump gives a rodent’s posterior about what the public thinks.
When you believe that the presidency gives you unlimited and unrestrained power not subject to review by Congress or the rule of international law — and when you believe that the heavens will shortly be opening up to bring you to the rapture that will leave all the sinners behind — you can do whatever you want without the fear of consequences.
Unless, of course, enough of the public wake up and demand that Congress put an end to this presidency in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by David Badash at RawStory.