Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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 rips Trump over attacks on Democratic lawmakers: 'That is not how we do things in Canada' Sarah Sanders hits Ocasio-Cortez over criticism of Ivanka Trump's G-20 appearance Macron's office 'didn't anticipate the reaction' after sharing Ivanka Trump video clip 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 PompeoAs tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Trump's Huawei concession is 'the rope that could hang America' MORE, national security adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonWill Iran 'break out' for a nuclear weapon, and what can Trump do? Hillicon Valley: FTC reportedly settles with Facebook for B fine | Trump calls to regulate Facebook's crypto project | Court rules Pentagon can award B 'war cloud' contract | Study shows automation will hit rural areas hardest Trump again considering dismissing intelligence chief Dan Coats: report MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report 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 WarrenWarren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' Trump says administration will 'take a look' after Thiel raises concerns about Google, China Thiel calls Warren the most 'dangerous' Democratic candidate 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: Trump a 'racist ass' House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta Members to have little time to question Mueller 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.