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 PenceTrump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' 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 TapperClyburn says he's willing to compromise on qualified immunity in policing bill GOP divided over expected Cheney ouster GOP governor says Republican Party has to allow for differences MORE on "State of the Union." “We’re not convinced it was authorized at the highest levels.”

President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal 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 PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory MORE and national security advisor John BoltonJohn BoltonRepublicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process Trump pushes back on Bolton poll Hillicon Valley: Facebook Oversight board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks' | Russia blocks Biden Cabinet officials in retaliation for sanctions 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.