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Trump didn’t know who Qassem Soleimani was when he ran for president

Five years later, he ordered his assassination.


Claire Goforth


Posted on Jan 3, 2020   Updated on May 19, 2021, 6:56 pm CDT

Yesterday, President Donald Trump ordered a drone strike in Baghdad that targeted and killed Iranian external forces commander Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani, a major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, commanded the Quds forces for more than two decades. He was considered by many to be the second-most powerful person in Iran.

Not long after news of Soleimani’s death broke, a clip from Trump’s Sept. 3, 2015 appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show started making the rounds on Twitter. In it, Trump comes across as unfamiliar with both Soleimani and the Quds.

Vote Vets, which unearthed the clip, wrote, “Trump didn’t know who Soleimani was, or the Quds, in 2015. Unclear how much he understands now, or if he even has a strategy when it comes to Iran.”

In the clip, Hewitt begins by asking Trump if he’s “familiar with General Soleimani.”

Trump responds with a drawn-out “yes,” then apparently concedes his ignorance by asking Hewitt to “give me a little, go ahead, tell me.”

Hewitt explains that Soleimani commands the Quds, and starts to ask about Trump’s expectations of him, until Trump interrupts, “I think the Kurds, by the way, they have been horribly mistreated by us.”

“No, not the Kurds, the Quds forces. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds forces. The bad guys,” Hewitt says.

“Do you expect his behavior to change—” Hewitt begins. Trump interrupts him again, “Oh, I thought you said Kurds. Kurds.”

In a transcript available on the show’s website, Hewitt goes on to explain who Soleimani is in greater detail. Then he asks whether Trump believes Soleimani’s behavior would change as a result of the Iran nuclear deal.

After clarifying that Soleimani is the one “going back and forth meeting with other countries,” Trump says, “Not good for us. And what it shows is a total lack of respect, I mean, that the other countries would even be entertaining him, and they’re entertaining him big league, big league.”

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Trump announced his presidential bid three months before the episode.

People were appalled, though not particularly surprised, by the unearthed clip, which provided an opportunity to criticize Trump’s foreign policy record.

“Trump wanted to kill someone big to make him look like Obama when he took out Bin Laden. Now we go full steam into WWIII which Trump hopes will get him re-elected,” @HermeticQabalah commented.

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has called for three days of public mourning for Soleimani, after which Iran vows it will seek “harsh revenge.”


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*First Published: Jan 3, 2020, 12:19 pm CST