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Trump Confirms He Ordered Airstrike Against Iran


President Trump has now confirmed what's been reported this morning - that last night, he ordered airstrikes on Iran and then pulled those airstrikes back. This comes after the Iranians shot down a U.S. military drone in what the U.S. says were international waters. Here's what President Trump said on Twitter this morning - quote, "on Monday, they shot down an unmanned drone flying in international waters. We were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on three different sites," end quote. NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe joins us now from the White House.

Ayesha, do we know at this point what those three sites were - what the targets were?

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: We don't know exactly. There were reports before the president's tweets that the targets were radar and missile batteries. But we don't know exactly what would have been the targets that President Trump was talking about.

MARTIN: The president also explained in those tweets his rationale for calling the airstrikes off after they'd already been launched. What does he say?

RASCOE: So he says, basically, that he - after the - he had called for the strikes, that he asked, how many people would die? How many Iranian people would die? And they said 150 people. And so, 10 minutes before the strike, he decided to stop it because it wasn't proportional, obviously, because it was just a drone that was shot down. And there was no U.S. lives lost by Iran's actions, according to the U.S. government. So it seems like there's this timeline coming out that the president is putting out. I will say that it does kind of raise questions about how this whole strike was called if the president didn't know how many people would be affected or how many people would be killed until, like, 10 minutes before. So there are going to be questions about that...

MARTIN: Right...

RASCOE: ...Today.

MARTIN: ...Because reportedly, the planes were already in the air. They might not have deployed their strike, but they were on their way. And it would be out of the norm for the president to not have known about the civilian casualties before making a decision like that. What do you think about how this tracks with the president's other public statements about Iran in recent days?

RASCOE: The president has really been kind of all over the place with this. He seems to be - kind of be pulled in different directions here. On the one hand, it seems like he wants to show that he's tough, and so you'll hear some of that tough talk. Yesterday, he said - he tweeted that Iran had made a very big mistake. And then he said that, you know, we'll see what we end up doing in response. But then he was also kind of seeming to try to de-escalate a bit, saying that maybe it hadn't been done on purpose. Maybe it was just kind of some rogue actor or someone who had just gotten out of line in Iran - that they wouldn't intentionally do this. And that's pretty much what has been happening for the past few weeks - where there will be threats, and then there will be Trump saying that he really thinks that Iran is very smart and that they want to come and negotiate.

And so he goes back and forth. And seemingly, it's because he wants to be tough, but he also campaigned on not getting into these long, drawn-out wars in the Middle East and not spending all this money in the Middle East. And that is exactly what would happen if these tensions escalate with Iran.

MARTIN: NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe for us this morning on these developments.

Thank you so much, Ayesha.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Rachel Martin
Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.