RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
After Iran's attack on U.S. bases in Iraq last night, President Trump tweeted, quote, "all is well." He went on to say, quote, "assessment of casualties and damages taking place now; so far, so good." The Defense Department said Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against at least two bases in Iraq that house American and coalition troops. No casualties have been reported thus far. The strikes are retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani. We're awaiting more from President Trump, who said that he will make a statement this morning. Meanwhile, NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe is with us. Hi, Ayesha.
AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Good morning.
MARTIN: So we saw that tweet from President Trump. Anything more from the White House about what has happened?
RASCOE: Not really. So there was that tweet and in - about saying that all things are - or all is well. And in that tweet, he also stressed that the U.S. has the most powerful and well-equipped military in the world. So this was a kind of upbeat message from the White House after this serious attack. One key thing is it didn't include any explicit threat for Iran at that point. A White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, did say that the president was briefed on what happened and that he was closely monitoring the situation while consulting with his national security team.
MARTIN: So U.S. officials, the Trump administration was well aware of Iran's promise to retaliate, to strike back against Soleimani's killing. Do we know what kind of precautions were taken?
RASCOE: Well - so we know that the defense secretary, Mike Esper, and Mike Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, they were at the White House yesterday. The Pentagon said that these bases had been on high alert and that appropriate measures had been taken to safeguard personnel. So the U.S. had been warning Iran not to retaliate, but the military had been preparing for attacks.
MARTIN: Right. The congressional leadership was briefed last night.
RASCOE: So they were briefed this time. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy received a call from the president last night. Vice President Pence called and informed House Speaker Pelosi. This comes after the administration faced criticism for not consulting with Congress before moving ahead with the strike on Soleimani. So Republican Senator Marco Rubio, he tweeted that a full assessment is underway to determine an appropriate response to Iran. But even with all of that, many lawmakers were still just trying to gather information last night on what was happening. You had some Democrats who were still questioning the president's decisions ahead of these strikes by the Iranians. Congresswoman Barbara Lee said that what the administration has done has created a, quote, "tragic spiral of violence."
MARTIN: So obviously everyone's going to be reading in between the lines of the president's words this morning when he's expected to give this statement as to whether or not this is over or if the U.S. is going to respond again, right?
RASCOE: Yeah. I mean, that's the big question. Like, Trump has been saying that any retaliation by Iran will provoke a stronger response and possibly a disproportionate response. But, obviously, other officials in the administration have been saying they want de-escalation and not war. So if officials can confirm that there aren't any casualties, that could provide a way out of the escalation for both countries despite all of this kind of heated rhetoric.
MARTIN: White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, thank you.
RASCOE: Thank you.
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