WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Friday that Iran had planned to attack multiple embassies across the Middle East, including the American Embassy in Baghdad, after first asserting that he did not believe anyone had a right to more details on the intelligence that prompted the killing of an Iranian general.
“I can reveal that I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies,” Mr. Trump told Laura Ingraham of Fox News in an interview, without giving further information.
The president’s assertion came after a week in which he and his advisers avoided offering specifics about the intelligence that prompted him to order an airstrike last week that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, one of Iran’s most important generals. The killing incited a retaliatory strike on bases in Iraq where American forces are stationed, and brought the countries to the brink of war.
Though he avoided details in his address to the nation this week, Mr. Trump’s remarks, delivered off the cuff to Fox News before he moved on to other topics including his support for withdrawing American troops from Iraq, added a new — and larger — description of the threat than had been offered in public.
In a rally in Ohio on Thursday night, Mr. Trump had edged closer to providing more specifics, telling his supporters that the Iranians had targeted multiple embassies — “not just the embassy in Baghdad,” he said. The information Mr. Trump gave to Fox News added detail to remarks given hours earlier by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.
In a briefing at the White House announcing new sanctions on Iran, Mr. Pompeo said that he did not know specific details about which embassies, if any, had been targeted — only that the threats were imminent.
“I don’t know exactly which minute,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters. “We don’t know exactly which day it would’ve been executed. But it was very clear: Qassim Suleimani himself was plotting a broad, large-scale attack against American interests. And those attacks were imminent.”
In his interview with Ms. Ingraham, Mr. Trump said initially that he did not believe the American people had a right to know about specifics of any plots. Then, he said, “We will tell you that probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad.”