Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE approved a military strike against Iran on Thursday in response to the downing of a U.S. drone before eventually pulling back, according to a report from The New York Times. 

The New York Times reported that as late as 7 p.m. EST, military and diplomatic officials were expecting the military strike before dawn on Friday on a series of targets including radar and missile batteries. 

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The strike was called off, but the Times reported that it was unclear if Trump changed his mind or the administration changed its strategy on Iran. 

The White House and Pentagon officials declined to comment to the Times. 

The strike came after Iran shot down a U.S. Navy drone over the Strait of Hormuz. 

In response to the shooting, Trump said Iran made a "very big mistake."

"I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth," the president said during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauTrudeau: Escalating 'tensions' with Iran to blame for downed jet Ukraine, Canada demand accountability after Iran admits to shooting down jet Iran denies shooting down Ukrainian plane, calls for evidence MORE.

U.S. and Iranian officials have differed over the drone's destruction, with Iranian officials maintaining that the aircraft was flying over Iran's southern Hormozgan province at the time of the incident. U.S. officials have maintained it was flying over international waters.

“This drone was in international waters, clearly,” Trump told reporters on Thursday, adding: “We have it all documented. It’s documented scientifically, not just words.” 

The Times reported that there was a divide within the executive branch about whether to strike, with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo under pressure over threats to Yovanovitch Regardless of how the Iraqis feel, the US should leave Democrats clash at debate over keeping US troops in Mideast MORE, national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonParnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' Collins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Senate Democrat says he is concerned intelligence community is 'bending' Soleimani presentations House chairman: Pompeo won't testify at Iran hearing Tuesday MORE favoring a military response. Conversely, officials at the Pentagon warned that doing so could pose a risk to American forces in the region.

Reports of Trump's decision to order the attack and later rescind those orders was denounced by Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE (D-Mass.), a 2020 presidential contender, who called a potential conflict with Iran "unnecessary."

"Donald Trump promised to bring our troops home. Instead he has pulled out of a deal that was working and instigated another unnecessary conflict. There is no justification for further escalating this crisis—we need to step back from the brink of war," she wrote on Twitter shortly after the story broke Thursday evening.

 

"Deeply concerned that @realDonaldTrump has no idea what he is doing, especially in foreign policy," added Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuDemocratic lawmaker says Nunes threatened to sue him over criticism Paralysis of nations is empowering cities 2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics MORE (D-Calif.), an Air Force veteran.

"Also very troubled we are reading about these high level US decisions about Iran in the media. The national security leaks from the Trump Administration are mind boggling," he wrote.

 

John Bowden contributed to this report which was updated on Friday at 7:15 a.m.