President Donald Trump and senior administration officials met at the White House on Monday to discuss how to respond to the attack on a Saudi oil facility that the U.S. has blamed on Iran, according to three senior administration officials.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was expected to present evidence that ties Iran to the weekend's attacks, according to the Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short. Over the weekend, Pompeo and Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, were pushing for a military buildup in the region, while the Pentagon was looking for a non-escalatory response that would push Tehran to the negotiating table, one senior administration official said.
ABC News was first to report that the U.S. believes the mix of cruise missiles and drones aimed at the key Saudi oil facility was launched from Iranian soil, according to two officials. The attack, which Iran denies, knocked out more than 5% of the world's daily crude oil production, disrupting global markets.
President Trump tweeted on Sunday that there was "reason to believe" the U.S. knows who committed the attack, saying the U.S. is "locked and loaded depending on verification."
Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
But a senior official told ABC News that the president knows Iran was behind the attack and wants Saudi Arabia to acknowledge that fact publicly if they want assistance from the U.S.
Saudi military spokesperson Col. Turki al-Malki said on Monday that initial investigations show Iranian weapons were used in the attack and that those weapons were not launched from inside Yemen.
The president tweeted again on Monday morning about an incident in May in which Iran shot down an unmanned American drone over the Strait of Hormuz after saying it had crossed into Iranian airspace.
"They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie," Trump tweeted. "Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?"
Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their “airspace” when, in fact, it was nowhere close. They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie. Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2019
Following the May incident, the Pentagon advocated for a more cautious response than was pushed for by other senior national security officials in the administration. Ultimately, the president chose to conduct a strike on Iranian missile batteries inside Iran, only to call off the strike at the last minutes due to concerns over casualties and the proportionality of that response.
ABC News' Conor Finnegan, Luis Martinez, Elizabeth McLaughlin, and Sohel Uddin contributed to this report.