63°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

White House subdued as Iran strikes US bases in Iraq

Updated January 8, 2020 - 12:40 am

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump sought to reassure Americans with a tweet Tuesday night after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

“All is well!” the president wrote. “Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties &damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”

While CNN incorrectly reported that Trump would make a televised address to the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, press secretary Stephanie Grisham instead issued a written statement.

“We are aware of the reports of attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq. The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” Grisham said.

The Pentagon issued a statement that said, “It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.”

Silent on Twitter

Trump’s Twitter feed had remained mostly silent since the president tweeted in the morning that he had met with Saudi Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman on Monday.

Earlier in the day, the president seemed committed not to further provoke Tehran, but also not to give Iran what it wants — the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

A longtime opponent of the U.S. military presence in Iraq, Trump told reporters Tuesday that, while he wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq at some point, “this isn’t the right point,” before he added that a U.S. troop pullout now would be “the worst thing that could happen to Iraq.”

Sitting in the Oval Office with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Trump also said he would respect international law and not target cultural sites — as he threatened to do over the weekend — even as he bristled at the notion that a U.S. president should be culturally sensitive toward an aggressor that has orchestrated the death of hundreds of U.S. troops.

From the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper maintained that the United States is “not seeking war with Iran. I think what happens next depends on them.”

Cory Mills, a former special operations and diplomatic security specialist who spent eight years in Iraq, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he believes that Tehran “had to show response, but they were hoping to hit infrastructure, not American lives.”

“They want to leave room open for de-escalation, and they know Trump’s red line,” Mills added.

Praying for troops

Nevada lawmakers and congressional leaders in both major parties said Tuesday they were praying for U.S. military men and women following the attacks.

Vice President Mike Pence notified congressional leaders about the attacks in phone calls to Capitol Hill as official Washington spent the evening monitoring the events unfolding in the Middle East.

“Praying for the safety of our servicemembers in harm’s way tonight,” said Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., in a tweet shortly after lawmakers learned about the missile attacks on two U.S. military installations.

Both the House and Senate were scheduled to receive a full briefing Wednesday by Trump administration officials, including Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the U.S. drone strike last week that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Soleimani was the head of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has been designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. He was designated as a terrorist by the United States in 2011.

Trump administration officials said the strike was a response to a December attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and came as Soleimani was planning an imminent attack on U.S. diplomats and service members. Tuesday’s rocket barrage from Iran, a decadeslong U.S. nemesis that has called for Israel’s destruction, came in retaliation for the American strike against Soleimani.

“The safety of U.S. service members and personnel is essential, and I’ll be asking the administration what it’s doing to keep them safe at tomorrow’s Iran briefing in the Senate,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., wrote: “Praying for U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq right now.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted: “Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our service­me­mbers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America &world cannot afford war.”

Pelosi’s GOP counterpart, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called for unity.

“Tonight we must be united in the fight against terrorism and those who would do our country harm,” he said on Twitter. “America’s full support is with our courageous service men and women standing the watch.”

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter. Review-Journal Washington Bureau reporter Gary Martin contributed to this story.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
RJ Politics Podcast with Deval Patrick - VIDEO
2020 Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick joins hosts Rory Appleton and Steve Sebelius on the RJ Politics Podcast.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
THE LATEST
FBI to keep states in loop on election breaches, sources say

In the past, the FBI would alert local governments about attacks on their electoral systems without automatically sharing that information with the state.

 
Senate begins impeachment trial of Trump

The U.S. Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump Thursday, senators standing at their desks to swear an oath of “impartial justice.”