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WASHINGTON – After asserting for more than a week that Gen. Qasem Soleimani posed an imminent threat to Americans when he waskilled in a drone strike, President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr now say that whether the threat was immediate or not, the president had the right to act.

When Trump announced Jan. 3 that he had ordered the drone strike that killed Soleimani, who ran the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, he said the general was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”

Top administration officials have stood by the assertion that the threat was immediate and have defended the intelligencethat led them to that conclusion. But Trump said in a tweet Monday that the question of whether or not the strike was imminent “really did not matter,” and the nation’s top law enforcement official said the issue was “something of a red herring.”