"They can do what they want": Trump’s Iran comments defy the position of his top aides

With a stray remark, Trump snuffed out a plan from his national security adviser, John Bolton, who this fall vowed that the United States would not leave Syria “as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders.”…

“That Iran strategy was never endorsed by the president,” said a U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive policy details.

While Trump shares his advisers’ combative views on Iran, he has focused mainly on the 2015 nuclear deal, which he pulled out of earlier this year. Pompeo and Bolton, meanwhile, have taken a broader view and advocated new actions to rein in Iran’s support for proxy groups.

Late last year, some of the president’s hawkish advisers drafted a memo committing the United States to a longer-term presence in Syria that included goals of an enduring defeat of the Islamic State, a political transition and the expulsion of Iran, officials said. The president has not signed the memo, which was presented to him weeks ago.