Two senior officials and three other individuals with direct knowledge of the administration’s strategy in the region tell The Daily Beast that the president has asked officials to tone down their heated rhetoric on Iran, despite the attacks on tanker ships in the Gulf of Oman that Washington has blamed on Tehran. The president has previously said he is less hawkish on Iran than some of his advisers and this week, in a Time magazine interview, said the attacks on the tankers were “very minor.”
Over the last several days in public testimony and in closed-door briefings, Trump administration officials have tried to calm lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are wary of the administration evading Congress to launch a military confrontation with Tehran. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s a major change in tone from the Trump administration. As recently as a few days ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on CBS Face the Nation that everything was on the table when it came to Iran, including military action. And National Security Adviser John Bolton has pushed internally for a confrontation with Tehran. “If you cross us, our allies or our partners, you harm our citizens, if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay,” Bolton said in New York last year.