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

Trump's failing culture wars

Data: Google; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

President Trump built his political brand by stoking the nation's culture wars, but search data is showing us how much harder it's been for him to replicate that success while running against another white man in his 70s — and while there's a coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Google Trends data shows Trump's "Sleepy Joe" name-calling isn't generating nearly the buzz "Crooked Hillary" (or "Little Marco") did in 2016. Base voters who relished doubting President Obama's birth certificate aren't questioning Biden's.

16 hours ago - Health

15 states broke single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: Compiled from state health departments by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

At least 15 states broke their single-day novel coronavirus infection records this week, according to state health department data reviewed by Axios.

The big picture: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Andrew Withershoop and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 11,143,945 — Total deaths: 527,681 — Total recoveries — 6,004,593Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 2,818,588 — Total deaths: 129,584 — Total recoveries: 883,561 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.