As Democrats debated and declined to shake hands in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday night, President Trump was just one battle state over, rambling on in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at his second rally of the year. Just as the Democratic contest focused on foreign policy more than in previous debates, Trump, too, looked beyond American borders in his rally, spurred into this territory by his targeted strike on Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
As Democratic candidates expressed the need for restraint and congressional approval for future acts of war, the president boasted of his free-wheeling assaults on intelligence targets worldwide. Below are his notable claims, of varying accuracy, on the deescalated conflict with Iran, as well as an assortment of unhinged rally favorites from the president.
Trump says Soleimani killed “hundreds of thousands” of people
Though Soleimani’s Quds Force did provide Iraqi insurgents with lethal “explosively formed penetrators,” it’s unclear where the president got this number. Trump also made fun of critics concerned with the administration’s ever-changing rationale for the extrajudicial strike. He paraphrased Democrats, asking “Was the attack imminent — was it imminent?”
Trump says Soleimani was “actively planning new attacks,” but cites none
The president backed this claim by pointing to plans orchestrated prior to the Iranian general’s death, like the protests inside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. But as information continues to emerge, this statement is proving harder to defend — not that this would stop Trump from doing so. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that he “didn’t see” any evidence backing Trump’s claim that an attack on four U.S. embassies was “imminent.” And on Monday, NBC News reported that Trump had been close to ordering a strike on Soleimani since June 2019, further eroding the imminence argument.
The misinformation wasn’t limited to Iran
Let’s just say that the president is probably unfamiliar with Sykes–Picot — although his historical errors aren’t limited to the Middle East. At his rally last week, the president said that there was no one living in Ohio 200 years ago. The territory, where ancient earthwork cultures date back over a thousand years, became a state in 1803.
Trump says he “kept the oil” in Syria
The president has been boasting of this war crime since October, although U.S. forces are only protecting Syrian oil fields. (Thankfully, nobody is taking the threat seriously.) Trump also included a tragically incorrect interpretation of his hasty, Erdogan-influenced call to pull the bulk of U.S. troops from northern Syria — “We can help our friends the Kurds” — as his decision directly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Kurdish civilians at the hands of Turkish-allied forces.
Trump is still obsessed with military personnel straight from “central casting”
In December, the president said that F-35 pilots are more attractive than Tom Cruise; their faces are “equal,” but their bodies are better.
Trump suggests Lyndon B. Johnson is in hell, along with John Dingell
The president adapted his terrible insult lobbied at the late Michigan congressman from his December rally for the Democratic president.