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 PencePences' pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo, dies Pence says both Capitol riot and nixing filibuster are a 'power grab' McCarthy says he won't cooperate with 'illegitimate' Jan. 6 probe 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 TapperMcCaul says US withdrawal from Afghanistan has emboldened Russia on Ukraine Sunday shows - Voting rights legislation dominates Texas Republican: FBI probe into synagogue hostage taker spreads to London, Tel Aviv MORE on "State of the Union." “We’re not convinced it was authorized at the highest levels.”

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' 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 PompeoRussia suggests military deployments to Cuba, Venezuela an option The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Winter is here for Democrats Overnight Defense & National Security — Nuclear states say no winners in global war MORE and national security advisor John BoltonJohn BoltonFormer Trump officials plotting effort to blunt his impact on elections: report Equilibrium/Sustainability — Fire calls infrastructural integrity into question Will Biden's 2021 foreign policy failures reverberate in 2022? 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.