With sandwiches piled on a sideboard within the room, the group that suggested the president there at completely different occasions all through the day included a handful of seasoned nationwide safety officers, together with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, Gen. Mark A. Milley, an Military veteran of almost 40 years; Keith Kellogg, a retired Military lieutenant common who serves as nationwide safety adviser to Mr. Pence; and Joseph Maguire, the appearing director of nationwide intelligence.

It additionally included Mr. Pompeo, who has grow to be a driving pressure within the Trump administration’s Iran coverage and an advocate of what he typically calls “restoring deterrence” towards Tehran’s aggression within the Center East. As a forceful proponent of the Jan. three strike that killed Normal Suleimani, Mr. Pompeo had performed an instrumental position in bringing Mr. Trump to the disaster level.

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However others across the lengthy, rectangular desk within the State of affairs Room had solely modest international coverage expertise — together with Mick Mulvaney, the appearing White Home chief of workers and a former congressman from South Carolina, and Mr. O’Brien, who was a Los Angeles lawyer earlier than spending two and a half years as Mr. Trump’s chief hostage negotiator and assumed the submit of nationwide safety adviser in September.

Showing on a video display screen was Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, who was monitoring the disaster from the company’s headquarters in Northern Virginia. Within the days earlier than Normal Suleimani’s dying, Ms. Haspel had suggested Mr. Trump that the risk the Iranian common offered was higher than the specter of Iran’s response if he was killed, in keeping with present and former American officers. Certainly, Ms. Haspel had predicted the almost certainly response can be a missile strike from Iran to bases the place American troops had been deployed, the very scenario that seemed to be enjoying out on Tuesday afternoon.

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Although Ms. Haspel took no formal place about whether or not to kill Normal Suleimani, officers who listened to her evaluation got here away with the clear view that the C.I.A. believed that killing him would enhance — not weaken — safety within the Center East.

However at that second days after Normal Suleimani’s dying, the president and his aides had been confronting a flurry of conflicting info. Round four p.m., stories got here in {that a} coaching camp north of Baghdad may need been hit. Officers on the White Home and the State Division waited anxiously for the Pentagon to offer harm stories in regards to the camp, Taji air base, the place American troops are stationed. It was a false alarm, although American officers mentioned on Wednesday that they believed that a number of missiles fired within the barrage a day earlier had been supposed for the bottom.

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Because the stories about Taji got here in, loudspeakers on the American Embassy in Baghdad introduced that an assault could possibly be imminent. As that they had within the earlier days, American and Iraqi personnel contained in the compound raced towards bomb shelters.

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