Trump dismisses reports of infighting over Iran policy

Trump dismisses reports of infighting over Iran policy
© UPI Photo

President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE on Wednesday pushed back against news reports that his administration is divided over how to proceed in the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran.

"There is no infighting whatsoever. Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision - it is a very simple process," Trump tweeted. "All sides, views, and policies are covered. I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon."

ADVERTISEMENT

The president singled out The Washington Post and The New York Times for criticism after each outlet reported in recent days on plans that are being developed and discussed to respond to Iran.

The Times reported Monday that acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE put together a plan at national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonGadhafi's ghost still haunts US policymakers Trump job approval slips 2 points in Gallup poll Washington indecision compounded the Kurds' dilemma MORE’s direction that called for up to 120,000 troops to be deployed to the region.

Trump on Tuesday called the report "fake news" but said he’d "absolutely" send even more troops to the Middle East if needed.

The Post confirmed the Times's reporting late Tuesday and on Wednesday reported that some U.S. allies have expressed concerns over the Trump administration's handling of the threat emanating from Iran.

The reports noted that Trump, who campaigned against U.S. entanglement in foreign conflicts, is surrounded by hawkish advisers such as Bolton who have favored a more aggressive approach toward Iran.

Asked last week whether he is satisfied with Bolton's advice, Trump said his national security adviser is "very good" but that he has "strong views."

"I have different sides," the president said. "I have John Bolton and I have other people who are a little more dovish than him, and ultimately I make the decision."

Trump, who regularly derides coverage he dislikes as "fake news," has previously lashed out over news reports that suggest his aides are making decisions on policy matters.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been on the rise since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal a year ago, but they have noticeably flared in recent weeks, raising questions about whether the administration is preparing for a military conflict.

Earlier this month, Bolton announced the deployment of a U.S. carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East. Officials cited a "credible threat" from Iran to explain the decision but have not elaborated on the threat.

The president has said he's hopeful there won't be a war with Iran but cautioned Tehran against provoking the U.S.

"If they do anything, they will suffer greatly," Trump said Monday when asked whether the two countries were at war.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that his country would not go to war with the United States despite the mounting tensions.

Updated at 3:52 p.m.