Trump frustrated with advisers over Iran, wants to speak to leaders in Tehran: report

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 is frustrated with some of his top advisers over the threat posed by Iran, saying hard-line aides could rush the U.S. into a military struggle with the Islamic republic and break his campaign pledge to avoid costly foreign wars, according to The Washington Post

Several U.S. officials told the Post that Trump prefers a diplomatic off-ramp to deescalate tensions between Washington and Tehran, which have escalated amid what military and intelligence officials have deemed to be credible threats against U.S. interests in the Gulf region. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump is particularly frustrated with 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 and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP lawmaker: Trump administration 'playing checkers' in Syria while others are 'playing chess' Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring White House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week MORE, according to the Post, both of whom have taken aggressive stances against Iran. 

“They are getting way out ahead of themselves, and Trump is annoyed,” a senior administration official told the newspaper. “There was a scramble for Bolton and Pompeo and others to get on the same page.” 

The official said Bolton, who has advocated for regime change in Tehran in the past, is “just in a different place” from Trump, who too has been a vocal Iran critic. Trump “wants to talk to the Iranians; he wants a deal” and is open to negotiation with the Iranian government, the official added. 

“He is not comfortable with all this ‘regime change’ talk,” the official added, saying Trump equates such discussions with the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Another official told the Post that Trump is not inclined to respond to any Iranian provocation with force unless there is a “big move” from Tehran, adding that while Trump may be frustrated with Bolton, his discontent is not near the level it reached with former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTrump sends nomination for Russia ambassador to Senate Democrats eye Pompeo testimony On The Money: IMF estimates US-China trade war to shave 0.8 percent from global economy | NY prosecutors urge appeals court not to block Trump tax subpoena | Turkish bank linked to Giuliani client charged with fraud, money laundering MORE, with whom the president was known to be displeased.

When asked of Trump’s supposed frustration with Bolton, National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis told the Post that its reporting "doesn’t accurately reflect reality.” 

The National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Trump on Wednesday dismissed reports of infighting over his administration’s stance regarding 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." 

The tweet came after a report that the Pentagon presented the White House with a plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event that tensions with Iran escalate.

The relationship between Washington and Tehran has deteriorated even further in recent weeks, with the U.S. sending a U.S. carrier strike group to the region in response to unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” and new reports of Iranian forces placing missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also announced last week that he would limit Iran’s compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.