Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday echoed President Donald Trump’s comments that they still harbor some doubts as to whether the order to shoot down the American drone came from the highest levels.
“The President also had doubts as to whether or not the downing of our unmanned aircraft was actually authorized at the highest levels,” Pence told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
After expressing these doubts, the vice president refused to comment on intelligence the United States possessed about the incident. He noted, however, that after receiving the casualty assessments, President Trump “concluded that it was not a proportionate response to shooting down an unmanned American aircraft.”
President Trump said at the end of last week that he called off an attack on Iran so as to avoid too many casualties because that would be an unproportionate response to a drone downing. A U.S. official said the targets of the U.S. planned attacks were several Iranian radars and missile batteries, while no weapons were deployed at the time the strikes were called off.
The two countries have for some time seen tensions between them heighten, with the potential to escalate. But President Trump said regardless that he didn’t believe the shooting down of the drone was intentional, but rather by mistake.
“Probably Iran made a mistake. I would imagine it was a general or somebody who made a mistake in shooting that drone down,” Trump said, adding that it made a great difference that there was “nobody” inside the drone.