Washington — Vice President Mike Pence said he believes Americans are “safer today” after President Trump ordered a strike that killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani. Pence addressed fears of an increasing conflict with Iran during an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell.
“Everybody who’s related to one of those soldiers stationed in the Middle East is worried. Are we safer now?” O’Donnell asked.
“I believe we are safer today than before President Trump ordered our military to take out Qassem Soleimani,” Pence said.
“One might say that taking out Soleimani is like taking a baseball bat to a hornet’s nest and those hornets are Iranian proxies. Proxy groups. Are you convinced that they won’t come after Americans?” O’Donnell asked.
“Well the challenge we face now is that Qassem Soleimani was in fact the primary leader of those Iranian sponsored militias across northern Iran and their influence in Syria as well, but we’re sending a very clear message as we did with those five airstrikes to militia bases… that we will not tolerate violence,” Pence said.
“But he didn’t act alone. Did he act with the blessing of the Ayatollah? The supreme leader?” O’Donnell asked.
“There’s no question,” Pence said.
The president on Wednesday said Iran appears to be “standing down,” after the country launched a missile strike on the Al Asad and Erbil bases in Iraq, which houses U.S. forces. No American or Iraqi troops were killed in the attack, which came in response to a strike last week that killed Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds military force.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to exact revenge and on Wednesday, he called Tuesday’s strike a “slap” to the Americans. He also said the real revenge would be forcing the U.S. to leave the region, a sentiment echoed by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
Watch more of O’Donnell’s interview with Pence tonight on the “CBS Evening News,” at 6:30 p.m. ET. Tune in to CBSN at 8 p.m. ET to watch “Crisis in the Middle East: Fears of War.”