Trump ramps up rhetoric on Iran

President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE is ramping up his rhetoric on Iran following attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia over the weekend that the United States has blamed on Tehran.

Trump has hinted at the potential for military action in the wake of the attacks on two Saudi oil sites and also referred back to Iran’s role in shooting down a U.S. military drone in June, an event that ramped up already high tensions between Washington and Tehran.


“Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their ‘airspace’ when, in fact, it was nowhere close,” Trump tweeted Monday.

“They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie. Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”

His comments come a day after Trump tweeted that the U.S. was “locked and loaded” after the attack but was waiting on Saudi Arabia to verify who was responsible. Trump didn’t mention Iran explicitly but said the U.S. has “reason to believe that we know the culprit.”

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE last week publicly blamed Tehran for what he described as an “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” disputing the presence of evidence suggesting the attacks came from Yemen.

Iran has denied involvement in the attacks. Meanwhile, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened further strikes in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led military coalition said Monday that preliminary evidence indicates that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian and that the drone strikes did not originate from Yemen.

The developments have thwarted any potential for a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in New York City, with Iran’s foreign ministry dismissing the possibility early Monday.

Saturday's attacks on the oil facilities, which are run by state-owned Saudi Aramco, shut down roughly 5 percent of the global oil supply and sent prices skyrocketing.

The attacks have dominated the president’s Twitter feed over the last few days.

Trump spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by phone on Sunday to offer U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s self-defense. Later, Trump said he would authorize the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if necessary in order to keep markets well-supplied.

Reports have suggested the Trump administration is weighing a serious military response to the attack, though it’s unclear what, if any, action the president will ultimately take. Trump is poised to depart for a campaign rally in New Mexico later Monday, and then to California for fundraisers before returning to D.C. on Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief defends Milley after Trump book criticism | Addresses critical race theory | Top general says Taliban has 'strategic momentum' in war The Biden administration and Tunisia: Off to a good start Overnight Defense: Navy pulls plug on 0 million railgun effort | Esper defends Milley after Trump attacks | Navy vet charged in Jan. 6 riot wants trial moved MORE said in a tweet that the "United States military, with our interagency team, is working with our partners to address this unprecedented attack and defend the international rules-based order that is being undermined by Iran."

Trump’s tweets have harkened back to his rhetoric after Iran shot down the U.S. military drone in June. Trump approved airstrikes against Iran following the drone incident but said he called them off at the last minute after being told it would lead to more than 100 casualties, saying the U.S. had been “cocked and loaded” to retaliate.

Trump has increased economic sanctions on Iran following his withdrawal from the Obama-era pact between six countries and Iran meant to restrain Tehran’s nuclear program, and tensions have worsened in recent months following the downing of the U.S. drone.

Still, Trump has appeared more open to meeting with Iran to potentially ease the confrontation. Some also suspected the administration’s rhetoric on Iran may soften following the ouster of White House national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Will Pence primary Trump — and win? Bolton: Trump lacked enough 'advance thinking' for a coup MORE last week.

Trump had acknowledged the possibility of a meeting with Rouhani, telling reporters in recent weeks that “anything is possible” and expressing optimism that Iran is willing to reach some kind of agreement.

Trump last week didn’t rule out easing sanctions on Iran in order to meet with Rouhani, something Iran has said would need to happen in order for him to agree to a meeting.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters when asked during an Oval Office meeting on e-cigarettes if he would consider easing sanctions to make a meeting happen.

“I think Iran has a tremendous, tremendous potential,” Trump continued. “They’re incredible people.  They have — we’re not looking for regime change. We hope that we can make a deal, and if we can’t make a deal, that’s fine too, OK? That’s fine too. But I think they have to make a deal. They’ve never been in this condition.”

On Sunday, Trump denied he was willing to meet with Rouhani without conditions, contradicting past statements by Pompeo and other administration officials that Trump would not set preconditions for such a meeting.

-- Updated at 2:55 p.m.