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The Norwegian-owned Front Altair tanker, which was attacked in the Gulf of Oman. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Iranian forces reportedly shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone in the hours before Thursday's attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. official tells CNN.

Why it matters: Heightened tensions and hawkish American rhetoric in the wake of Thursday's incident have brought back recently reduced fears that the U.S. could be on course for war with Iran.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump have accused Iran of being responsible for the oil tanker attacks based on U.S. intelligence that has not been made public.
  • The administration released a video on Friday purporting to show Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing a mine from one of the oil tankers after the attack. "It’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it," Trump said in a Fox & Friends interview, referring to the video.

Details: Before the U.S. drone was shot into the water by surface-to-air missiles, it "observed Iranian vessels closing in on the tankers," the U.S. official told CNN. The official did not say if the drone "saw the boats conducting an actual attack." They also claimed another U.S. Reaper drone was shot into the Red Sea on Wednesday by what is believed to be a Houthi-fired Iranian missile.

The other side: The Iranian mission to the U.N. dismissed accusations of orchestrating the oil tanker attack as "unfounded" on Thursday and called for an immediate dialogue to reduce pressure and prevent "the reckless and dangerous policies and practices of the U.S."

  • Iran's president also said Saturday the country would continue to scale back its compliance with provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal until other parties to the agreement show "positive signs," Reuters reports.

Go deeper: Pompeo blames Iran for attacks on oil tankers

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

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