As the debate over the threat level continued Monday, Trump went on the defensive, blasting the "Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners" for trying to determine whether a future attack by Soleimani was "imminent", and whether the Trump administration was in agreement over the airstrike. Perhaps the reluctance to share the information is because there is nothing there that shows there was any imminent attack on U.S. embassies or on any other facilities.
"The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn't really matter because of his terrible past!"
"We hold Iran responsible for its proxies, and we will retain the right to exercise self-defense and take action, where legally available and appropriate, to hold those proxies accountable for their actions", Esper told NPR. Trump tweeted on Monday.
While Mr Esper said he agreed with Mr Trump that additional attacks against United States embassies were likely, he said on CBS's Face the Nation that Mr Trump's remarks to Fox News were not based on specific evidence of attacks on four embassies.
Democrats and a few Republicans in Congress said they have not been given adequate, detailed briefings. "What the president said was that there probably could be additional attacks against embassies. We killed the number one terrorist in the world, Soleimani, and it should have been done 20 years ago".
While fielding questions from students at Stanford University in California on January 13, Pompeo said a "broad spectrum" of Sunni, Kurdish, and Shi'ite leaders backed US counterterrorism efforts in Iraq.
In death, Soleimani, a major general and head of Iran's Quds Force since 1998, also has apparently received a promotion.
The defense secretary first told NPR that the 2002 Authorization for MIlitary Force (AUMF) grants the president the right to conduct operations in Iraq, but added "we do not have the authority, right now, to strike the country of Iran". Military planners and other officials viewed a targeted strike at Soleimani as a potentially more agreeable option for the president, who publicly expressed concerns for the collateral damage predicted for the September option. Asked whether he thought Trump had embellished the threat he said: "I don't believe so".
Pompeo - who shared the stage with a predecessor, Condoleezza Rice - said he spoke to leaders of all backgrounds in Iraq, including the Shiite majority, which enjoys religious ties with Iran.
The killing was a risky move that brought the two nations closer to war than at any point in recent memory.
Even as tensions appear to cool, the long-term effects of the strike are unclear and will likely be hard to predict, given the wide breadth and capabilities of Iran's network of proxies.