Photo: Mark Wilson / Staff/Getty Images

President Trump authorized military action against Iran for shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone on Thursday, but then abruptly pulled the plug on the operation as it was already underway on Thursday night, the New York Times reports, citing several senior administration officials.

Why it matters: This is the latest in a series of escalating tensions between the two nations amid the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign. Last week, the administration accused Iran of attacking oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a key international waterway.

Details: It is unclear why the president called off the strike, per the Times. It is also unclear whether Trump may order a strike in the future.

The backdrop: Earlier Thursday, Trump told reporters he thought the drone attack was a "mistake," and said he thought it may have been carried out by someone who "was loose and stupid."

  • Meanwhile, the Pentagon characterized the downing of the drone as "dangerous and escalatory," and claimed it was "an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace."
  • The strike would have been Trump's third military action against targets in the Middle East. The administration has previously carried out two strikes against targets in Syria.

Neither the White House nor the Pentagon responded to the Times' request for comment, and "no government officials asked The New York Times to withhold the article," per the Times.

Go deeper

26 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus cases are falling, but don't get too comfortable

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

America's coronavirus outbreak is slowing down after a summer of explosive growth.

By the numbers: The U.S. is averaging roughly 52,000 new cases per day — still a lot of cases, but about 10.5% fewer than it was averaging last week.

26 mins ago - Health

We're doing a lot less coronavirus testing

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. is cutting back on coronavirus testing. Nationally, the number of tests performed each day is about 17% lower than it was at the end of July, and testing is also declining in hard-hit states.

Why it matters: This big reduction in testing has helped clear away delays that undermined the response to the pandemic. But doing fewer tests can also undermine the response to the pandemic.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 20,624,316 — Total deaths: 749,421— Total recoveries: 12,831,800Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,197,147 — Total deaths: 166,027 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says Mnuchin told her White House is "not budging" on stimulus position.
  4. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits.
  5. Public health: U.S. records deadliest coronavirus day of the summer — America's two-sided COVID-19 response
  6. Education: New Jersey governor allows schools to reopenGallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.