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Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee 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 TrudeauBiden strikes optimistic tone in meeting with Mexican president White House: US will help Mexico after Americans vaccinated The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run 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 PompeoMike PompeoHouthis: US sanctions prolonging war in Yemen China plays the Trump card, but Biden is not buying it Trump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run MORE, national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines Bolton lawyer: Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community 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 WarrenHillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case Senators question Bezos, Amazon about cameras placed in delivery vans Democrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda 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. LieuPelosi, lawmakers denounce violence against Asian Americans Riot probe to likely focus on McCarthy-Trump call Progressives urge Biden pick for attorney general to prosecute Trump 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.