- President Donald Trump claimed in a Friday tweet that he made a last-minute decision to call off a military strike against Iran, calling off the attack 10 minutes before it was set to occur.
- According to a report from the Washington Post, the president actually halted the attack hours before it was supposed to happen.
- More than 25 White House officials, lawmakers, congressional aides, military officials, and others familiar with the process spelled out a different timeline for the Post, which Trump backed off on in later comments.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
President Donald Trump claimed in a Friday tweet that he made a last-minute decision to call off a military strike against Iran, citing concern over civilian casualties.
“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” Trump wrote. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.” He added that the number of fatalities was not “proportionate” to Monday’s attack on a US drone, which a top Iranian general described as intentional.
However, some experts expressed skepticism over the president’s recounting of what spurred his decision to halt the attack, especially as discussions over military casualties typically occur early on in the process.
Ned Price, the former spokesperson for the National Security Council under President Obama, previously told Business Insider that the process described in Trump’s tweet is “about as far from normal as you can get,” adding that, “The Department of Defense tends to include information on expected casualties as one of the topline points.”
“I just think he stepped back. That is his pattern. He speaks loudly and carries a small stick,” added Ivo Daalder, the former US Ambassador to NATO and the current president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “The fact that he actually constructed that entire tweet thread suggests that he was trying to create a new narrative.”
1/ This is one time when the President's indecision may have saved thousands of lives. But having been part of military CONOPs briefings, they always include an assessment of casualties on both sides at the front end.
— Sam Vinograd (@sam_vinograd) June 21, 2019
Story doesn’t add up.
For one thing the General would not have “to get back to you on that” for estimated casualties. It would be right there in black and white as part of Concept of Operation.
Is Trump suggesting the Pentagon brought him a plan without having those figures? https://t.co/ihCCsIDoXU
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) June 21, 2019
According to a Friday report from the Washington Post, experts were not far off about Trump’s apparent efforts to reconstrue what happened in the hours prior to his decision. While the president claimed he made the call 10 minutes before the strike, the Post’s conversations with more than 25 White House officials, lawmakers, congressional aides, military officials, and others familiar with the process paint a different picture.
They say that Trump’s cancellation occurred around 7 p.m. on Thursday – two hours before the strikes were scheduled to occur. “The decision stood in contrast to the hawkish policies advocated by some of Trump’s advisers, including Bolton, who has long supported regime change in Iran,” The Post noted.
Business Insider has reached out to the White House for comment and clarification on the timeline of events in the wake of the president’s decision. Administration officials told The Post that just an hour prior, around 6 p.m., several aides left the White House believing that the strike was set to take place that night.
One aide told The Post that Trump asked lawmakers to go on television on Friday to defend his decision.
Trump clarified what occurred on Thursday evening in a Friday afternoon interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd. “We had something ready to go, subject to my approval,” he told Todd, adding that planes were not in the air “but they would have been pretty soon.”