Fox News host Shepard Smith on Friday took issue with President Donald Trump’s shifting account of his last-second decision to call off a retaliatory airstrike on Iran, claiming on Friday that he made the abrupt decision to avoid casualties on the ground.
“Yesterday morning at 11:00 a.m., there was a national security briefing. The president was not in it. At 3:00, there was another briefing during which the president would have been given the details of the strike, including a casualty count,” Smith explained.
“It’s our reporting that he was said to have concerns after that briefing about the casualty count,” he added. “He then spent some time on the phone and during the 6:00 hour or whenever it was, ten minutes before go, he called it off — because of the 150 that he just learned about. Something is wrong there.”
According to the New York Times:
As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.
Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.
The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.”
Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace noted that a national security official who had served during another Republican administration told him that Trump’s story “did not add up.”
Wallace said that the president should have been informed of possible casualties during his initial briefing with military officials, not while the operation was underway.
“So the idea that the president, ten minutes before the actual go — The New York Times is reporting that the ships were in place, the war planes were in the air — that ten minutes before you’re learning for the first time that there’s going to be 150 casualties seems unlikely, and certainly not the way it’s been done in the past,” he added.