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LIVE: Trump Makes Statement On Iran Missile Attack | NBC News (Live Stream)

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MAYBE YOU CAN HELP ME WITH THAT >> MAYBE

>> YOU'RE AN EDUCATOR, RIGHT? >> YEAH >> Announcer: THIS IS AN NBC NEWS SPECIAL REPORT HERE'S LESTER HOLT >> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE WE'RE COMING ON THE AIR TO BRING YOU THE FIRST PUBLIC REMARKS FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP FOLLOWING LAST NIGHT'S MISSILE ATTACK BY IRAN ON U

S OCCUPIED BASES IN IRAQ THE LATEST IN WHAT IS SURELY THE MOST PERILOUS IN US/IRAN RELATIONS IN MORE THAN 40 YEARS

THIS CURRENT CRISIS BEGAN JUST 12 DAYS AGO WITH AN ESCALATING EXCHANGE OF HOSTILITIES BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES, LEADING TO AN ATTACK ON THE US EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD BY IRANIAN-BACKED PROTESTERS THEN FIVE DAYS AGO, A US

AIR STRIKE IN BAGHDAD, ORDERED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP, KILLED IRAN'S TOP GENERAL, QASSEM SOLEIMANI IRAN VOWED REVENS, AND LAST NIGHT IT CAME THROUGH THERE ARE INDICATIONSIRAN MAY HAVE AVOIDED FURTHER ESCALATION THE QUESTION NOW, OF COURSE, HOW WILL PRESIDENT TRUMP RESPOND? HE WILL BE SPEAKING AT THE WHITE HOUSE MOMENTS FROM NOW THINGS ARE SET THERE

WE HAVE INDICATIONS THAT THEY'VE BEEN MAKING PERHAPS SOME LAST-MINUTE ADJUSTMENTS TO HIS REMARKS WE EXPECT THE PRESIDENT TO EMERGE SHORTLY IN THE MEANTIME, NBC'S KRISTEN WELKER IS AT THE WHITE HOUSE KRISTEN, WHAT CAN YOU TELL US? >> Reporter: LESTER, GOOD MORNING I'M IN THE GRAND FOYER WHERE WE ARE WAITING FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP TO ADDRESS THE NATION FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THOSE ATTACKS OVERNIGHT

THE BIG QUESTION, WILL PRESIDENT TRUMP ANNOUNCE A RETALIATION AGAINST IRAN, OR WILL HE ANNOUNCE A DE-ESCALATION? IF YOU LOOK TO THE TWEET THAT HE SENT OUT LAST NIGHT, IT WAS NOT FIRE AND BRIMSTONE INSTEAD, IT SEEMED TO POINT TO THE FACT THAT THERE HAVE BEEN NO FATALITIES REPORTED HE SAID, SO FAR, SO GOOD WE ANTICIPATE WHAT HE WILL SAY WE KNOW THAT DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS ARE CALLING ON THE ADMINISTRATION TO DE-ESCALATE

PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS HAD A BUSY MORNING HE SPENT PART OF IT IN THE SITUATION ROOM WITH THE VICE PRESIDENT, A NUMBER OF OTHER TOP OFFICIALS WE ARE TOLD THAT HE WILL BE JOINED BY THE VICE PRESIDENT WHEN HE COMES TO THE PODIUM IN JUST A FEW MOMENTS FROM NOW LESTER, THEY HAVE BEEN MONITORING THE DEVELOPMENTS OVERNIGHT, REACHING OUT TO DEMOCRATS, REACHING OUT TO REPUBLICANS, TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE BRIEFED ON THIS SITUATION AND THE DEVELOPMENTS ABROAD I ANTICIPATE WE WOULD HEAR PRESIDENT TRUMP DEFEND HIS DECISION TO TAKE OUT IRAN'S TOP GENERAL

THE ADMINISTRATION HAS MADE THE CASE HE POSED AN IMMINENT THREAT TO THE US DEMOCRATS HAVE SAID THEY WANT TO SEE THE EVIDENCE WE KNOW TOP OFFICIALS WILL BE BRIEFING THE FULL CONGRESS LATER TODAY LESTER, WE ARE HERE WAITING FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP BEHIND ME, SEATED A NUMBER OF NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS

>> ALL RIGHT WE SEE SOME OF THE PRINCIPALS NOW TAKING THEIR POSITION AT THE PODIUM THE LEADERSHIP AS WE WAIT FOR THE PRESIDENT TO EMERGE QUICKLY, LET'S GO TO COURTNEY KUBE AT THE PENTAGON WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED? >> Reporter: WE'RE WAITING TO SEE EXACTLY WHAT WE HEARD FROM KRISTEN WELKER THAT'S WHAT WILL PRESIDENT TRUMP, WHAT KIND OF TONE WILL HE TAKE HERE THIS MORNING? WE HAD THIS KILLING OF SOLEIMANI DAYS AGO

THE US MILITARY IN THE ENSUING DAYS POSTURING FOR AN OFFENSIVE, ANY KIND OF ATTACK FROM IRAN, PREPARING FOR THE ATTACK TO COME ON TO A US MILITARY INSULATION IN IRAQ, JUST IN THE LAST HOURS

WE KNOW NOW THAT THE CASUALTY COUNT IS ZERO THERE WERE NO AMERICANS KILLED IN THESE STRIKES HOW THERE THAT IMPACT PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DECISION TO RESPOND? WILL THIS BE A MILITARY — ANY KIND OF A MILITARY RESPONSE, OR THE FACT THAT THE CASUALTY COUNT IS ZERO, DOES THAT MEAN THAT, IN FACT, IT'LL BE A LARGER DIPLOMATIC RESPONSE, LESTER? >> THANK YOU, COURTNEY KUBE LET'S GO QUICKLY TO IRAQ RIGHT NOW, WHERE RICHARD ENGEL IS IN ERBIL, ONE OF THE — NEAR ONE OF THE PLACES THAT WAS ATTACKED RICHARD, WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THERE THIS MORNING? >> Reporter: WELL, RIGHT NOW, WE ARE IN A WAIT AND SEE MODE

IRAN SAYS IT WILL NOT CARRY OUT MORE ATTACKS UNLESS THERE IS A COUNTERATTACK FROM THE UNITED STATES >> RICHARD, WE'LL HAVE TO MOVE BACK TO THE WHITE HOUSE THE PRESIDENT NOW AT THE PODIUM >> AS LONG AS I AM PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, IRAN WILL NEVER BE ALLOWED TO HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON GOOD MORNING

I'M PLEASED TO INFORM YOU, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SHOULD BE EXTREMELY GRATEFUL AND HAPPY NO AMERICANS WERE HARMED IN LAST NIGHT'S ATTACK BY THE IRANIAN REGIME WE SUFFERED NO CASUALTIES ALL OF OUR SOLDIERS ARE SAFE ONLY MINIMAL DAMAGE WAS SUSTAINED AT OUR MILITARY BASES

OUR GREAT AMERICAN FORCES ARE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING IRAN APPEARS TO BE STANDING DOWN, WHICH IS A GOOD THING FOR ALL PARTIES CONCERNED, AND A VERY GOOD THING FOR THE WORLD NO AMERICAN OR IRAQI LIVES WERE LOST BECAUSE OF THE PRECAUTIONS TAKEN TO DISPERSE ALL THE FORCES AND AN EARLY WARNING SYSTEM THAT WORKED VERY WELL I SALUTE THE INCREDIBLE SKILL AND COURAGE OF AMERICA'S MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM FOR FAR TOO LONG, ALL THE WAY BACK TO 1979 TO BE EXACT, NATIONS HAVE TOLERATED IRAN'S DESTRUCTIVE AND DESTABILIZING BEHAVIOR IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND BEYOND

THOSE DAYS ARE OVER IRAN HAS BEEN THE LEADING SPONSOR OF TERRORISM, AND THEIR PURSUIT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS THREATENS THE CIVILIZED WORLD WE WILL NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN LAST WOKE, WE TOOK DECISIVE ACTION TO STOP A RUTHLESS TERRORIST FROM THREATENING AMERICAN LIVES AT MY DIRECTION, THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ELIMINATED THE WORLD'S TOP TERRORIST, QASSEM SOLEIMANI

AS THE HEAD OF THE QUDS FORCE, SOLEIMANI WAS PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR SOME OF THE ABSOLUTELY WORST ATROCITIES HE TRAINED TERRORIST ARMIES, INCLUDING HEZBOLLAH, LAUNCHING TERRORIST STRIKES AGAINST CIVILIAN TARGETS HE FUELED BLOODY CIVIL WARS ALL ACROSS THE REGION HE VICIOUSLY WOUNDED AND MURDERED THOUSANDS OF US

TROOPS, INCLUDING THE PLANTING OF ROADSIDE BOMBS THAT MAIM AND DISMEMBER THEIR VICTIMS SOLEIMANI DIRECTED THE RECENT ATTACKS ON US PERSONNEL IN IRAQ THAT BADLY WOUNDED FOUR SERVICE MEMBERS AND KILLED ONE AMERICAN HE ORCHESTRATED THE VIOLENT ASSAULT ON THE U

S EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD IN RECENT DAYS, HE WAS PLANNING NEW ATTACKS ON AMERICAN TARGETS, BUT WE STOPPED HIM SOLEIMANI'S HANDS WERE DRENCHED IN BOTH AMERICAN AND IRANIAN BLOOD HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN TERMINATED LONG AGO

BY REMOVING SOLEIMANI, WE HAVE SENT A POWERFUL MESSAGE TO TERRORISTS IF YOU VALUE YOUR OWN LIFE, YOU WILL NOT THREATEN THE LIVES OF OUR PEOPLE AS WE CONTINUE TO EVALUATE OPTIONS IN RESPONSE TO IRANIAN AGGRESSION, THE UNITED STATES WILL IMMEDIATELY IMPOSE ADDITIONAL PUNISHING ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON THE IRANIAN REGIME THESE POWERFUL SANCTIONS WILL REMAIN UNTIL IRAN CHANGES ITS BEHAVIOR IN RECENT MONTHS ALONE, IRAN HAS SEIZED SHIPS IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS, FIRED AN UNPROVOKED STRIKE ON SAUDI ARABIA, AND SHOT DOWN TWO U

S DRONES IRAN'S HOSTILITIES SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASED AFTER THE FOOLISH IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL WAS SIGNED IN 2013 THEY WERE GIVEN $150 BILLION, NOT TO MENTION $18 BILLION IN CASH

INSTEAD OF SAYING "THANK YOU" TO THE UNITED STATES, THEY CHANTED "DEATH TO AMERICA" IN FACT, THEY CHANTED "DEATH TO AMERICA" THE DAY THE AGREEMENT WAS SIGNED THEN IRAN WENT ON A TERROR SPREE, FUNDED BY THE MONEY FROM THE DEAL, AND CREATED HELL IN YEMEN, SYRIA, LEBANON, AFGHANISTAN, AND IRAQ THE MISSILES FIRED LAST NIGHT AT US AND OUR ALLIES WERE PAID FOR WITH THE FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE BY THE LAST ADMINISTRATION THE REGIME ALSO GREATLY TIGHTENED THE REINS ON THEIR OWN COUNTRY, EVEN RECENTLY KILLING 1,500 PEOPLE AT THE MANY PROTESTS THAT ARE TAKING PLACE ALL THROUGHOUT IRAN

THE VERY DEFECTIVE JCPOA EXPIRES SHORTLY ANYWAY AND GIVES IRAN A CLEAR AND QUICK PATH TO NUCLEAR BREAKOUT IRAN MUST ABANDON ITS NUCLEAR AMBITIONS AND END ITS SUPPORT FOR TERRORISM THE TIME HAS COME FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM, GERMANY, FRANCE, RUSSIA, AND CHINA TO RECOGNIZE THIS REALITY THEY MUST NOW BREAKAWAY FROM THE REMNANTS OF THE IRAN DEAL, OR JCPOA WE MUST ALL WORK TOGETHER TOWARD MAKING A DEAL WITH IRAN THAT MAKES THE WORLD A SAFER AND MORE PEACEFUL PLACE

WE MUST ALSO MAKE A DEAL THAT ALLOWS IRAN TO THRIVE AND PROSPER AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ITS ENORMOUS, UNTAPPED POTENTIAL IRAN CAN BE A GREAT COUNTRY PEACE AND STABILITY CANNOT PREVAIL IN THE MIDDLE EAST AS LONG AS IRAN CONTINUES TO FOMENT VIOLENCE, UNREST, HATRED, AND WAR THE CIVILIZED WORLD MUST SEND A CLEAR AND UNIFIED MESSAGE TO THE IRANIAN REGIME YOUR CAMPAIGN OF TERROR, MURDER, MAYHEM, WILL NOT BE TOLERATED ANY LONGER

IT WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO GO FORWARD TODAY, I AM GOING TO ASK NATO TO BECOME MUCH MORE INVOLVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST PROCESS OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS, UNDER MY LEADERSHIP, OUR ECONOMY IS STRONGER THAN EVER BEFORE, AND AMERICA HAS ACHIEVED ENERGY INDEPENDENCE THESE HISTORIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS CHANGED OUR STRATEGIC PRYOR TIS THESE ARE ACCOMPLISHMENTS NOBODY THOUGHT WERE POSSIBLE

AND OPTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST BECAME AVAILABLE WE ARE NOW THE NUMBER ONE PRODUCER OF OIL AND NATURAL GAS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WE ARE INDEPENDENT, AND WE DO NOT NEED MIDDLE EAST OIL THE AMERICAN MILITARY HAS BEEN COMPLETELY REBUILT UNDER MY ADMINISTRATION AT A COST OF $25 TRILLION

US ARMED FORCES ARE STRONGER THAN EVER BEFORE OUR MISSILES ARE BIG, POWERFUL, ACCURATE, LETHAL, AND FAST UNDER CONSTRUCTION ARE MANY HYPERSONIC MISSILES

THE FACT THAT WE HAVE THIS GREAT MILITARY AND EQUIPMENT, HOWEVER, DOES NOT MEAN WE HAVE TO USE IT WE DO NOT WANT TO USE IT AMERICAN STRENGTH, BOTH MILITARY AND ECONOMIC, IS THE BEST DETERRENT THREE MONTHS AGO, AFTER DESTROYING 100% OF ISIS AND ITS TERRITORIAL CALIPHATE, WE KILLED THE SAVAGE LEADER OF ISIS, AL BAGHDADI, WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR SO MUCH DEATH, INCLUDING THE BEHEADINGS OF CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, AND ALL WHO STOOD IN HIS WAY HE WAS A MONSTER

AL BAGHDADI WAS TRYING AGAIN TO REBUILD THE ISIS CALIPHATE AND FAILED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE BEEN KILLED OR CAPTURED DURING MY ADMINISTRATION ISIS IS A NATURAL ENEMY OF IRAN THE DESTRUCTION OF ISIS IS GOOD FOR IRAN WE SHOULD WORK TOGETHER ON THIS AND OTHER SHARED PRIORITIES

FINALLY, TO THE PEOPLE AND LEADERS OF IRAN, WE WANT YOU TO HAVE A FUTURE AND A GREAT FUTURE, ONE THAT YOU DESERVE ONE OF PROSPERITY AT HOME AND HARMONY WITH THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD THE UNITED STATES IS READY TO EMBRACE PEACE WITH ALL WHO SEEK IT I WANT TO THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS AMERICA THANK YOU VERY MUCH

THANK YOU THANK YOU >> YOU CAN HEAR REPORTERS IN THE ROOM ASKING QUESTIONS THE PRESIDENT TAKING NONE AS HE CONCLUDES HIS REMARKS HIS FIRST REACTION TO THE IRANIAN ATTACK ON U

S OCCUPIED BASES IN IRAQ THE PRESIDENT, FRANKLY, DIDN'T HAVE A LOT TO SAY ABOUT THE ATTACK ITSELF IN TERMS OF A RESPONSE, HE SAID THEY WILL IMPOSE NEW SANCTIONS THE U

S HAS ALREADY IMPOSED SOME OF THE HARSHEST SANCTIONS ON IRAN APPARENTLY, PREPARED TO DO MORE THERE WAS NO TALK OF ANY MILITARY RESPONSE IN THE WAY WE HEARD THE PRESIDENT THERE OVER THE LAST SEVERAL DAYS I WANT TO GO TO ANDREA MITCHELL, WHO HAS BEEN WATCHING ALONG WITH ME

OUR CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, ANDREA, WHAT DID YOU NOTE IN THE PRESIDENT'S REMARKS? >> IT WAS A FASCINATING COMBINATION OF THE PRESIDENT'S LONG-STANDING OBJECTIONS TO THE OBAMA NUCLEAR DEAL, THE IRAN DEAL HE GOT OUT OF IN MAY OF 2018, AND BLAMING THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION FOR FINANCING THE MISSILES HE SAYS WERE FIRED BY IRAN LAST NIGHT NO RETALIATION, NO MILITARY RETALIATION FROM THE US SOUNDING TOUGH OF COURSE, WHAT HE SAID ABOUT SOLEIMANI, SAYING THAT HIS HANDS WERE DRENCHED WITH BLOOD

FOR ALL THE TOUGH TALK AND THE THREAT OF NEW ECONOMIC SANCTIONS — AND IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE WHAT HAS NOT BEEN SANCTIONED BECAUSE THEY'VE ALREADY SANCTIONED THE CENTRAL BANK THE FEDERAL RESERVE BASICALLY OF IRAN NO ONE CAN MOVE MONEY ON THE INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGES THROUGH IRAN IRAN HAS BEEN CRIPPLED ECONOMICALLY BY THE SANCTIONS AS THEY STEPPED THEM UP BUT THE OTHER THING IS, BY SAYING AGAIN, AS HE HAS SAID FOR YEARS, IN THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL, HE PROVIDED — THAT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PROVIDED $150 MILLION, THAT IS NOT FACTUALLYI ASSETS FROZEN IN 179 WHEN THEY TOOK THE 52 HOSTAGES AND TOOK OVER THE EMBASSY

THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL DID ALLOW IRAN TO GET BACK ITS OWN ASSETS, AND THAT'S A LOT OF THE MONEY HE IS DESCRIBING >> LET ME GO TO KRISTEN WELKER RIGHT NOW WHO IS IN THE ROOM AT THE WHITE HOUSE OR WAS AT THE WHITE HOUSE AND WATCHING ALONG WITH US I NOTED THE PRESIDENT, ONCE AGAIN, DEFENDING HIS DECISION TO GO AFTER SOLEIMANI I DIDN'T HEAR THE WORD "IMMINENT THREAT" WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT THE THREAT

THERE'S BEEN MIXED MESSAGING ON THAT ISSUE >> Reporter: THAT'S A REALLY IMPORTANT POINT, LESTER YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT PRESIDENT TRUMP GAVE A VERY ROBUST DEFENSE OF HIS DECISION TO TAKE OUT IRAN'S TOP GENERAL, QASSEM SOLEIMANI AT THE SAME TIME, HE REALLY STRESSED SOLEIMANI'S BACKGROUND

THE FACT HIS HANDS ARE DRENCHED WITH BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF AMERICANS AND HIS FELLOW IRANIANS YET, HE DIDN'T TALK ABOUT WHAT EXACTLY THAT IMMINENT THREAT WAS WHAT DID IT LOOK LIKE? A DAY EARLIER, HIS DEFENSE SECRETARY SAID THAT THERE WAS, IN FACT, AN IMMINENT THREAT HE WAS TRACKING IT WITHIN DAYS WE DIDN'T HEAR THAT LANGUAGE FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP

SO THE QUESTION BECOMES, AS WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE REST OF THIS DAY, WHAT, IF ANY, EVIDENCE WILL SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS PROVIDE TO THE FULL CONGRESS WHEN THEY BRIEF THEM LATER ON TODAY? WE KNOW THE SECRETARY OF STATE, THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE WILL BE AMONG THE BRIEFERS YOU HAVE DEMOCRATS AND SOME REPUBLICANS SAYING THAT, ESSENTIALLY, THE ADMINISTRATION SHOULD DECLASSIFY THE INTELLIGENCE THAT IS BEHIND THE PRESIDENT'S DECISION TO GO AFTER SOLEIMANI IN THE FIRST PLACE SO FAR, THE ADMINISTRATION HAS SAID THEY HAVEN'T MADE A DECISION ABOUT THAT LESTER, YOU CAN BET THEY ARE GOING TO GET PRESSURED ON THAT I WOULD MAKE ONE MORE POINT

YOU HEARD PRESIDENT TRUMP SAY THAT IRAN SEEMS TO BE STANDING DOWN THE QUESTION BECOMES, IS THE PRESIDENT STANDING DOWN MILITARILY? HE PUT THE FOCUS ON SANCTIONS I TRIED TO ASK HIM AS HE WAS LEAVING IF HE HAD RULED OUT ANY TYPE OF MILITARY RETALIATION HE DIDN'T ANSWER ANY OF OUR QUESTIONS YOU CAN BET THAT THOSE WILL BE AMONG THE QUESTIONS THAT LAWMAKERS WILL HAVE LATER ON TODAY

LESTER? >> KRISTEN, THANKS YEAH, THE PRESIDENT COMING OUT IN HIS FIRST REMARKS AMERICANS SHOULD BE GRATEFUL AND HAPPY THAT NO AMERICAN CASUALTIES, THERE WAS MINIMAL DAMAGE IN THE ATTACKS CERTAINLY, WE ARE ALL GRATEFUL THERE WAS NO LOSS OF LIFE LET ME BRING IN NBC NEWS ANALYST AND FORMER U

S DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR IRAQ AND IRAN, BRETT McGERK THANKS FOR JOINING US YOU TALKED LAST NIGHT ABOUT EVERYONE KIND OF TAKING A STEP BACK DOES IT OCCUR THAT STEP BACK HAS OCCURRED, THAT WE ARE AT A POINT NOW WHERE, YOU KNOW, CLEAR THINKING IS PREVAILING? >> I WOULD INJECT A NOTE OF CAUTION

I THINK FOLLOWING WHAT KRISTEN EMPHASIZED, THAT THE PRESIDENT SAID IRAN IS TAKING A STEP BACK OR STANDING DOWN I THINK, KNOWING IRAN, THAT'S PROBABLY UNLIKELY I DON'T THINK WE'LL SEE AN OVERT ATTACK LIKE WE SAW LAST NIGHT THIS EXTRAORDINARY EVENT WITH BALLISTIC MISSILES TARGETING AMERICANS IN IRAQ

THEY ATTACK THROUGH PROXIES SINCE MAY OF LAST YEAR, WE'VE BEEN ON AN ACTION/REACTION CYCLE ATTACKS IN THE GULF AGAINST SHIPPING ATTACKS AGAINST SAUDI ARABIA 20,000 MILITARY PERSONNEL POURED INTO THE MIDDLE EAST

THAT SEEMS TO BE THE TRACK WE'RE ON I THINK WE'RE NOT ON THE TOP OF THE ESCALATORY LADDER AS WE SEEMED TO BE YESTERDAY, WHICH IS GOOD, BUT I DON'T SEE A PATHWAY TO GET OUT OF THE ACTION/REACTION CYCLE WE'VE BEEN ON THE LAST TEN MONTHS >> THE PRESIDENT CALLED ON NATO TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST HOW IS THAT GOING TO FLY WITH NATO ALLIES WHO, FRANKLY, HAVE BEEN CRITICIZED BY THE PRESIDENT IN THE PAST? >> LESTER, I WORKED WITH NATO IT IS A GREAT ORGANIZATION

TO DO ANYTHING IN NATO, YOU NEED UNANIMITY AMONGST THE 29 ALLIES IT'LL BE UNLIKELY THE ALLIES WILL POUR INTO THE MIDDLE EAST TO HELP US WE EMBARKED ON THE MAXIMUM PRESSURE ON OUR OWN, AND WE FIND IT HARD TO HAVE ALLIES COME WITH US WHEN WE'RE IN TROUBLE IT IS WISHFUL THINKING SINCE MAY, 20,000 MORE MILITARY PERSONNEL INTO THE MIDDLE EAST

I DON'T SEE THEM COMING HOME SOON I REALLY DID NOT SEE THE WAY FOR THE PRESIDENT TO TRY TO OPEN A NEW PATH FOR DIPLOMACY MARK TWAIN SAID ABOUT DIPLOMACY, IT IS GIVE AND TAKE GIVE ONE, TAKE TEN YOU HAVE TO GIVE ONE SOMETIMES

TO GET BACK TO THE TABLE, I THINK WE'LL HAVE TO PUT A REALLY CONCRETE OFFER ON THE TABLE TO THE IRANIANS HERE'S WHAT WE EXPECT HERE'S THE PATHWAY RIGHT NOW, THAT REALLY DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE TAKING SHAPE >> BRETT McGURK, GOOD TO HAVE YOU ON

WE WANT TO GO TO THE PENTAGON NOW COURTNEY KUBE, WHO MANS OUR POST THERE COURTNEY, WHAT IS THE AMERICAN MILITARY POSTURE AT THIS POINT IN TIME? >> Reporter: IT'S BEEN DEFENSIVE EVER SINCE THE KILLING OF SOLEIMANI A FEW DAYS AGO, JUST LAST WEEK RIGHT NOW, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT REALLY STOOD OUT TO ME THOUGH FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP JUST NOW WAS HIM SAYING HE'S GOING TO CALL ON NATO TO BECOME MUCH MORE INVOLVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST NATO ACTUALLY HAD BECOME MUCH MORE INVOLVED, SPECIFICALLY IN IRAQ JUST IN OCTOBER OF 2018

THEY CREATED A TRAINING MISSION THERE TAKEN OVER BY NATO AND MANNED BY A CANADIAN GENERAL, THE FIRST HEAD OF THAT THE MISSION, AFTER THE DEATH OF SOLEIMANI, THAT MISSION WAS SUSPENDED BECAUSE THE COUNTER-ISIS AND THE TRAINING MISSION HAD TO STOP WHILE THE US MILITARY AND THE COALITION HAD TO FOCUS MORE ON FORCE PROTECTION OF THE TROOPS WHO WERE THERE AGAINST THIS THREAT FROM IRAN AND IRANIAN MILITIAS AND PROXIES

SO IT IS INTERESTING HE'S SAYING HE WANTS NATO TO DO MORE WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT CAPACITY THAT WOULD BE I THINK WHATEVER RESPONSE NATO WOULD HAVE TO THAT WOULD ALSO BE FASCINATING ANOTHER THING THAT STOOD OUT TO ME, LESTER, WAS HIM CALLING SOLEIMANI THE WORLD'S TOP TERRORIST WE KNOW THAT, OF COURSE, HE IS ON A FOREIGN TERROR ORGANIZATION

SOLEIMANI WAS, THAT IS MANY PEOPLE IN INTELLIGENCE AND DEFENSE OFFICIALS, ANALYSTS WHO I SPEAK WITH CONSIDER THE HEAD OF AL QAEDA TO BE THE WORLD'S TOP TERRORIST BAGHDADI, WHO WAS KILLED WEEKS AGO IN SYRIA, WOULD BE ANOTHER ONE I NEVER HEARD OF SOLEIMANI REFERRED TO IN THAT WAY THAT WAS FASCINATING TO ME

TO REINFORCE WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT BEFORE THE PRESIDENT CAME OUT, TO SEE HOW HE WAS GOING TO RESPOND IT BECAME CLEAR FROM THE SPEECH WHEN HE LOOKED AT HIS POSSIBLE OPTIONS, MILITARY OR A LARGER DIPLOMATIC OR GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION RESPONSE, SO FAR, THEY'RE CHOOSING ADMINISTRATION RESPONSE WITH SANCTIONS, LESTER >> COURTNEY KUBE AT THE PENTAGON, THANK YOU KASIE HUNT IS ON CAPITOL HILL WE KNOW DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN SAYING WE NEED MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT LED UP TO ALL THIS

WERE ANY OF THOSE QUESTIONS ANSWERED TODAY, AND WHAT ARE YOU HEARING UP THERE? >> Reporter: THE BIG QUESTION THAT WAS ANSWERED HERE, LESTER, SEEMS TO BE THAT THE PRESIDENT IS TAKING A RELATIVELY DEESCALATORY PATH SOME OF HIS TOP ALLIES ALREADY OUT ON TWITTER CONGRESSMAN MARK MEADOWS SAYING THIS WAS A SHOWING THE PRESIDENT IS BEING, ON THE ONE HAND, STRONG, ON THE OTHER HAND, AVOIDING A CONFLICT, TRYING TO KEEP AMERICA OUT OF A BROADER WAR CERTAINLY, IT SEEMS REPUBLICANS ARE PREPARED TO BACK HIM IN THAT WAY WE ARE STILL WAITING TO HEAR FROM THE TOP DEMOCRATS HERE IN CONGRESS ABOUT WHETHER THEY CONSIDER THIS TO BE A DE-ESCALATION

AND I DO THINK YOU'RE STILL GOING TO SEE A LOT OF QUESTIONS FROM LAWMAKERS ABOUT EXACTLY WHERE WE STAND IN THIS BACK AND FORTH WITH IRAN AS BRETT McGURK WAS ELUDING TO, THAT SEEMS TO BE STILL GOING ON DOES CONGRESS NEED TO POTENTIALLY ACT TO PASS SOMETHING, TRYING TO LIMIT THE PRESIDENT'S POWERS? THE HOUSE MAY GO DOWN THAT ROAD OF COURSE, REPUBLICANS CONTROL THE SENATE FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE, THAT MIGHT BE UNLIKELY

>> THANK YOU LET'S GO TO CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR OF "MEET THE PRESS" DID THE PRESIDENT FIND AN OFF-RAMP? DID THE IRANIANS GIVE HIM AN OFF-RAMP? >> THEY DID AND HE TOOK IT HE DIDN'T WANT TO LOOK LIKE HE TOOK IT THAT'S WHY YOU HEARD HIM TRY TO USE FORCEFUL LANGUAGE IN ANNOUNCING THE SANCTIONS

USED FORCEFUL LANGUAGE IN NOT SAYING THEY'RE NOT GOING TO RETALIATE IT IS CLEAR OUR RETALIATION FOR NOW APPEARS TO BE THE SANCTIONS I THINK IT IS NOTABLE AT HOW THE PRESIDENT TRIED TO POLITICIZE THIS BY BLAMING THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION FOR FINANCING YOU KNOW, WE'RE GLOSSING OVER THAT THE SITTING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES ACCUSING ESSENTIALLY THE PREVIOUS PRESIDENT OF HELPING TO FINANCE IRANIAN WEAPONS IS QUITE REMARKABLE THAT HE IS WILLING TO PUSH THE ENVELOPE LIKE THAT WITH THE OFFICE — WITH THIS OFFICE

I MEAN, I GUESS AT THIS POINT, WE SHOULDN'T BE SURPRISED HE DOES THESE THINGS ANYMORE IT'S STILL A REMARKABLE THING THAT HE ACTUALLY DID IT FOR ME, THERE WAS ONE GIANT, NOTABLE OMISSION IN HIS REMARKS IT WAS THE LACK OF OUTREACH OR OLIVE BRANCH TO THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT WHO BASICALLY WANTS TO KICK THE AMERICANS OUT STRATEGICALLY, THAT'D OBVIOUSLY BE POTENTIALLY A DISASTER WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT ISIS

THE LACK OF ANY SORT OF OLIVE BRANCH TO IRAQ, I THINK, WAS, TO ME, NOTABLE AND PERHAPS A DIPLOMATIC MISTAKE >> WHAT ABOUT THE REACHING OUT TO NATO, AN ORGANIZATION THAT HE'S BROADLY CRITICIZED, ASKING THEM TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST? HOW IS THAT GOING TO FLY? >> WE'LL SEE OUR EUROPEAN ALLIES IN THIS HAVE BEEN SPECTACLE OF WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING AS IT IS WITH IRAN OBVIOUSLY, THIS WOULD BE A WAY OF ALMOST SORT OF FORCING THERE TO LOOK LIKE THERE IS AN INTERNATIONAL COALITION I GET WHAT THE PRESIDENT IS TRYING TO DO HERE

RIGHT NOW, IT LOOKS LIKE AMERICA IS ALONE IN THIS WITH THE GULF STATES THAT'S IT WHEN IT COMES TO TAKING ON IRAN NATO WOULD GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF AN INTERNATIONAL COALITION >> THANKS SO MUCH WHAT APPEARS TO BE A STEP BACK BY THE PRESIDENT THIS MORNING FROM A CYCLE OF ESCALATION, AND WHAT MANY FEARED WAS THE BRINK OF WAR BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND IRAN

THIS STORY IS FAR FROM OVER OF COURSE, BREATHS ARE STILL HELD LARGELY WE WILL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW ALL DEVELOPMENTS I'LL BE BACK WITH A FULL WRAP UP WHEN I SEE YOU THIS EVENING ON "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS" FOR ALL OF US AT NBC NEWS, I'M LESTER

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