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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed President Trump's threat to target Iranian cultural sites, declining to disavow the president's tweet on the Sunday cable talk shows but stating repeatedly that the U.S. would behave within the rules of the system.

"George, I've seen what we are planning in terms of the target set. ... The American people should know that every target that we strike will be a lawful target, and it will be a target designed at the singular mission of protecting and defending America. President Trump has been diligent about that. He doesn't want war."
— Mike Pompeo on ABC's "This Week"

Why it matters: Trump's warning about cultural sites prompted immediate outrage from Iranian officials, who accused the president of flouting international law and threatening war crimes.

  • United Nations resolution 2347, which the U.S. supported in 2017, "condemns the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage," including religious sites and artifacts.

The big picture: The Trump administration has repeatedly emphasized that its principal goal is de-escalation and that the Qasem Soleimani strike was carried out to “stop a war.” Rhetoric like this suggests the off-ramp to a hot conflict may be fading.

  • Pressed on this by CNN's Jake Tapper, Pompeo said: "We have provided [Iran] clear guidance about what it is we have as an expectation. ... It is important that they understand that America will no longer behave the way that it did during the Obama/Biden administration. We will no longer appease."

Go deeper: Iran calls Trump a "terrorist in a suit" after attack threat

Go deeper

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

4 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.

5 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

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