Obama's Former National Security Adviser Says Trump Was 'Absolutely Correct' to Kill Soleimani: 'It's a Potential Game Changer'

President Barack Obama's former national security adviser has praised President Donald Trump for ordering the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, describing the killing as a "potential game changer."

James L. Jones, a retired Marine Corps general who served as Obama's national security adviser from 2009 to 2010, told an Atlantic Council event on Sunday that assassinating Soleimani was "the right thing to do."

Soleimani was the commander of Iran's Quds Force, a clandestine element of the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for the body's foreign operations and covert activities.

He was credited with shaping Tehran's foreign military strategy for two decades, building and directing proxy forces across the Middle East to drive Iranian interests.

Trump called Soleimani the "world's number one terrorist," and has claimed—without providing any evidence—that the commander was killed to stop imminent attacks on American embassies.

Lawmaker reaction has been largely partisan. While Republicans have praised the operation, Democrats have said the killing was a reckless decision that risked sparking all out war with Tehran.

Most prominent Democrats have condemned Soleimani. Trump and some of his supporters have falsely accused the opposition of praising the slain commander.

Jones said Sunday that Trump should ignore the critics. "I would not listen to the appeasers of the world who kind of want to calm the waves," he said.

Jones also warned against heeding those who "want to get back to normal business and then you have Iran using its proxies to spread terror around the world, interdict shipping, shoot down drones, and things like that."

"Those days I think are over and I hope Iran understands that," Jones continued. "As articulated by the president, it's a potential game changer...I would not let up. I would not let up."

Jones resigned from the Obama administration in 2010, around one year before U.S. special forces killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Jones said on Sunday that the Obama administration's hunt for bin Laden meant it could not focus on actors like Soleimani as much as he might have liked.

"I think the Obama administration tried to find the terrorist that was the most wanted guy in the world," he said. "Soleimani is now the next guy, so I give [Trump] credit for doing that and I think it was the right thing to do," he explained.

Lawmakers and the media are still pressing the Trump administration to provide evidence of the need to kill Soleimani, which prompted a series of events in which Iran launched ballistic missiles against U.S. troops in Iraq and accidentally shot down a passenger jet near Tehran, falsely identifying the plane as an enemy military aircraft.

Soleimani's killing came after a week of tensions in Iraq, during which an Iranian-backed militia killed an American contractor in a rocket attack and the U.S. launched subsequent airstrikes against militia targets, killing at least 25 people.

On Sunday, the president appeared to shift his position, claiming in a tweet that it "doesn't really matter" if Soleimani was an imminent threat of not "because of his horrible past."

Donald Trump, Iran, Qassem Soleimani, James Jones
President Donald Trump arrives for a "Keep America Great" campaign rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on January 14, 2020. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/Getty