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'
© Getty Images

Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePhiladelphia mayor: Trump would 'go to hell' if he had to go back to where he came from Google official denies allegations of ties to China Trump says migrant detention centers are 'not concentration camps' 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 Tapper2020 Democrats call Trump's tweets about female Democrats racist CNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet Trump's tweets unify a fractured Democratic Party MORE on "State of the Union." “We’re not convinced it was authorized at the highest levels.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist 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.”

ADVERTISEMENT

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 PompeoPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist US bans top Myanmar generals from country over attacks on Rohingya Muslims MORE and national security advisor John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonWill Iran 'break out' for a nuclear weapon, and what can Trump do? Hillicon Valley: FTC reportedly settles with Facebook for B fine | Trump calls to regulate Facebook's crypto project | Court rules Pentagon can award B 'war cloud' contract | Study shows automation will hit rural areas hardest Trump again considering dismissing intelligence chief Dan Coats: report 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.