Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

Trump approved Iranian strike before pulling back: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection 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 TrudeauCanada vows to retaliate against Trump tariffs  Are US-Japan relations on the rocks? US to restrict border crossings for another month: reports 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: Esper confirms plans to drop below 5,000 troops in Afghanistan | State Department says it's cleared of wrongdoing in emergency arms sales before investigation's release State says it will be cleared by watchdog report US 'deeply concerned' over election in Belarus MORE, national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonEx-Trump adviser, impeachment witness Fiona Hill gets book deal Hannity's first book in 10 years debuts at No. 1 on Amazon Congress has a shot at correcting Trump's central mistake on cybersecurity MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Top intelligence officials to brief Gang of Eight on Thursday 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 WarrenOvernight Health Care: Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for coronavirus over two weeks last month | Democrats deny outreach to Trump since talks collapsed | California public health chief quits suddenly On The Money: Administration defends Trump executive orders | CBO reports skyrocketing deficit | Government pauses Kodak loan pending review Harris favored as Biden edges closer to VP pick 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. LieuGOP official says Elizabeth Warren 'endorses voter fraud' after joke about Bailey voting for Biden Milley confirms soldiers deployed to DC amid unrest were given bayonets Trump campaign touts 4M online viewers for Tulsa rally 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.