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 PenceScott Atlas: Fauci 'just one person on the task force' Meadows criticizes veteran journalist Lesley Stahl as an 'opinion journalist' Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally 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 TapperNY Times slammed for glowing Farrakhan op-ed: 'You would think he was a gentleman' Democrats condemn Trump's rhetoric against Michigan governor as allies defend rally Illinois governor blames Trump's allies for state's wrong direction on coronavirus MORE on "State of the Union." “We’re not convinced it was authorized at the highest levels.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida 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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Brazil's OECD candidacy is best chance for reform Watch live: Pompeo news conference MORE and national security advisor John BoltonJohn BoltonJohn Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report Bolton: North Korea 'more dangerous now' Demand for Trump-related titles sparks expected record year for political books 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.