Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels'

Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels'
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Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceNewly released video from inside Capitol siege shows rioters confronting police, rifling through Senate desks Author: Meadows is history's worst White House chief of staff Democratic lawmaker says 'assassination party' hunted for Pelosi during riot MORE said Sunday that the U.S. still doubts whether the downing of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone had been authorized by Iran's leadership.

“The president … had doubt as to whether the downing of our unmanned aircraft was authorized at the highest levels,” Pence told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Durbin says he won't whip votes for Trump's second impeachment trial MORE on "State of the Union." “We’re not convinced it was authorized at the highest levels.”

President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE reportedly cancelled a retaliatory strike on Iran at the last minute last week, and tweeted that he decided it would be disproportionate upon learning it would likely cost 150 lives.

“This is a president who’s always going to count the cost,” Pence told Tapper on Sunday. “The president looked at the potential loss of human life and concluded that was not proportionate.”


Pressed by Tapper on reports that Trump would have been informed of casualty estimates far earlier in the process, Pence said Trump “was provided with casualty assessments and a whole range of information throughout” but that “late in the process there were more specific projections given to him and he concluded it was not a proportionate response.”

Pence demurred on reports that he had joined Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoBiden should expand contact between US and Taiwanese officials On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE and national security advisor John BoltonJohn BoltonNSA places former GOP political operative in top lawyer position after Pentagon chief's reported order After insurrection: The national security implications McConnell won't reprise role as chief Trump defender MORE in supporting the strikes, saying “all the national security team around the president supported providing him the broadest range of options.”

The vice president also echoed remarks Trump made in an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying the U.S. would be willing to meet with Iranian officials without preconditions but that “we are not going to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

In a separate interview on Sunday, Pence said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he hopes Iranians appreciate Trump's decision to call off the strike over the potential loss of life.

"I hope that sends a message to the Iranian people that while we stand firmly against the ayatollahs we have the highest hopes for the Iranian people," he said.

--This report was updated at 10:55 a.m.