The White House national security adviser said on Sunday that he thought the Iranian regime was “having a very bad week,” citing the accidental downing of a Ukrainian plane and offered the president’s sympathies to the victims families.
“This is a regime that’s reeling from maximum pressure, they’re reeling from their incompetence in this situation and the people of Iran are just fed up with it,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
President Donald Trump said that Iran “appears to be standing down” in remarks Wednesday morning, and said that there were no American causalities in the attack.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced new sanctions on Iran Friday. The new round of sanctions target the country’s steel and iron industry, eight Iranian security officials and three Chinese companies that have traded Iranian metals.
ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos pressed O’Brien on why the U.S. did not evacuate embassies given the claim that Soleimani had been planning to attack “four embassies.”
“We’re not going to cut and run every time someone threatens us,” the national security adviser said, citing reinforcements to the embassy in Baghdad.
“We’re not going to have another Benghazi,” he added. “We’re not going to have another Tehran embassy takeover where our diplomats are taken hostage.”
O’Brien has also defended the strike against Soleimani in an interview with NPR on Thursday, saying that the U.S. maintains a right to self defense.
“If we didn’t engage in this operation and the attacks had taken place and many Americans would have been killed, there would’ve been plenty of people that would have criticized us for not having disrupted the attacks,” he said.
The White House briefed members of Congress on Wednesday. While some lawmakers were satisfied with the briefing, others, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee criticized the briefing.
Calling Lee a friend, O’Brien also said on NPR that several people told him the briefing was “fantastic.”
“I was disappointed to hear that he wasn’t happy with the briefing,” he said. “But I’ve also heard from other senators, including Chairman (James) Risch of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — he thought it was one of the best briefings he’d ever had. So I think there’s there’s always mixed reviews on these things.”
Several Democrats, including presidential candidate and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, said that — in their opinion — the briefing did not address the president’s claim that Soleimani was planning to attack U.S. embassies.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.