In an interview for Sunday's 'Meet the Press,' President Trump told NBC's Chuck Todd that a plan to deliver a proportionate response to Iran downing a U.S. drone "ready to go, subject to my approval" until he found out there would be a possibility of 150 casualties.
"I thought about it for a second and I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with a 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead," Trump told Todd on Friday. "And I didn’t like it, I didn’t think, I didn't think it was proportionate."
Trump said that he was "cocked and loaded" to bomb Iran but decided not to. He explained his decision in a series of tweets Friday morning:
....Death to America. I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2019
....proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2019
Transcript, via NBC News:
CHUCK TODD: So did you green light something? Or had you said --
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Nothing’s—
CHUCK TODD: "If we do it, I'll do this." What was, what was the order you gave?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Nothing is green lighted until the very end—
CHUCK TODD: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: --because things change, right?
CHUCK TODD: So you never gave a final order?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, no, no, no. But we had something ready to go, subject to my approval. And they came in. And they came in about a half an hour before, they said, "So we're about ready to go." I said, "I want a better definition--
CHUCK TODD: Planes in the air? Were planes in the air?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, no. "We're about ready to go." No, but they would have been pretty soon. And things would have happened to a point where you wouldn't turn back or couldn't turn back. So they came and they said, "Sir, we're ready to go. We'd like a decision." I said, "I want to know something before you go. How many people will be killed, in this case Iranians?" I said, "How many people are going to be killed?" "Sir, I'd like get back to you on that," great people these generals. They said, came back, they said, "Sir, approximately 150." And I thought about it for a second and I said, "You know what? They shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it. And here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead." And I didn't like it. I didn't think, I didn’t think it was proportionate.