Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report 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 TrudeauPhoto shows Justin Trudeau wearing brownface at 2001 party Our last best chance of redemption: Why Congress needs to pass USMCA Pelosi updates Trudeau on status of Trump's NAFTA revamp 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 PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran Trump doubles down on Graham: 'How did going into Iraq work out?' MORE, national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Overnight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Bolton blasts Trump's foreign policy in closed-door meeting: report MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelTrump administration, military officials at odds over CIA's Afghanistan role: report Trump meets with national security team on Afghanistan peace plan Politics must stop at the edge of intelligence for sake of security 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 WarrenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument 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. LieuTed Lieu congratulates first Asian American cast member on 'Saturday Night Live' Ocasio-Cortez renews impeachment call amid probe involving Trump's Scotland property Oversight panel investigating Air Force crew's stop at Trump property in Scotland 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.