Trump feared Iran would assassinate him as revenge for Soleimani killing, book claims

Trump feared Iran would assassinate him as revenge for Soleimani killing, book claims
A new book - "The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017 - 2021" claims the former US president expressed fears that Tehran would seek revenge for Qassem Soleimani's killing.
3 min read
14 September, 2022
There was a widening gulf between Trump and his closest security advisers over Iran [source: Getty]

Former President Donald Trump feared Tehran would try to assassinate him after the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US air strike, a new book has revealed. 

"The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017 - 2021" - a book by two US journalists set to come out next week - documents how the late president constantly clashed with his closest security advisers over the US's increasingly hawkish approach to Iran.  

Amid several anecdotes of Trump verging on an all-out war with Tehran, one account depicts his personal fears when it came to retaliation over Soleimani's death. 

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"At a cocktail party [in December 2020], Trump told several of his Florida friends he was afraid Iran would try to assassinate him, so he had to go back to Washington where he would be safe," wrote authors Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. 

This comment followed a threatening tweet from Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei which read: "Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani, as well as those who carried this out, should be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time." 

Trump reportedly ordered Soleimani's killing directly, without briefing US Congressional leaders in advance. 

'The Divider' provides a detailed account of what happened inside the White House leading up to the US's attack on Soleimani at Baghdad airport. 

It traces the story from Trump trashing the 2015 nuclear deal to a last-minute decision in 2019 to call off air strikes on Iran, when the president heeded advice from Fox News host Tucker Carlson.  

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In the latter years of the presidency, it seemed US generals were more and more concerned Trump would dramatically escalate tensions with Tehran 

"The biggest fear was that Iran would provoke Trump, and using, an array of diplomatic and military channels, American officials warned the Iranians not to exploit the volatile domestic situation," wrote Baker and Glasser in a piece in The New Yorker ahead of the book's release.

"Among those pushing the President to hit Iran before Biden’s Inauguration, Milley believed, was the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu." 

"If you do this, you’re gonna have a f****** war," said Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, according to The New Yorker. 

Soleimani was a 62-year-old commander of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which the US designated a terrorist group in April 2019. 

He was responsible for the IRGC's operations overseas, playing a crucial role in Iran's intervention in the Syrian conflict on the side of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

His death in January 2020 marked a significant escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.