May 14, 2019

Trump denies report that U.S. may deploy 120,000 troops to counter Iran

President Trump denied a report from the New York Times that his top national security aides discussed a plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in case of a fallout with Iran, adding that if they were planning to, "we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that."

"I think it's fake news, okay? Would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that. I think -- where was that story in the "New York Times"? Well, "The New York Times" is fake news."

The backdrop: The plan was reportedly drawn up by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and presented during a meeting about the Trump administration's broader Iran policy, attended — among others — by national security adviser John Bolton, CIA director Gina Haspel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

  • It's unclear if President Trump was briefed on the details of the plan, which did not call for a land invasion of Iran, but requested a similar number of troops involved the U.S.' 2003 invasion of Iraq, per the Times.

The big picture: Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been warning of an unspecified "escalating threat" from Iran in recent weeks, after receiving intelligence from Israel about a possible Iranian plot to attack U.S. interests in the region. Trump told reporters Monday that he’d been “hearing little stories about Iran,” adding: “If they do anything, they will suffer greatly.”

Go deeper: Pentagon presented plan to deploy 120,000 troops in case of Iran escalation

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Dominic Cummings: "I respectfully disagree" that I broke U.K. lockdown rules

Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Dominic Cummings, the top aide to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, defended himself Monday against allegations that he broke the U.K.'s coronavirus lockdown rules during a Downing Street press conference.

What he said: "I respectfully disagree. The legal rules do not necessarily cover all circumstances, especially the ones I found myself in."

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.