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Subject: Out of town pool report #8a / more from briefing

From: "Crowley, Michael"

Date: December 29, 2019 at 7:14:10 PM EST
Subject: Out of town pool report #8a / more from briefing

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Pool had been holding in vans outside Mar a Lago expecting a presidential movement when we drove unexpectedly into the MAL compound. We were then ushered into a small chandeliered ballroom where a podium had been placed. After our arrival, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Miley entered. They took no questions and were finished in about three minutes. Again, no POTUS.

Pompeo opened with a statement:

Said they "came to Florida today to brief the president on activities that have taken place in the Middle East over the course of the last 72 hours."

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Said he would let Esper discuss "the military aspects but I wanted to put into context our policy with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran."

"The attack that took place against the Iraqi facility threatened American forces. This has been going on now for weeks and weeks and weeks. This wasn't the first set of attacks against this particular Iraqi facility and others where there were American lives at risk. And today what we did is take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months and months, which is that we will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy. We will always honor that commitment to take decisive actions when that takes place. We continue to demand the Islamic Republic of Iran act in a way that is consistent with what I laid out back in May 2018, for what it is that we expect Iran to do so that it can rejoin the community of nations."

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Esper:

Said DOD "took offensive actions in defense of our personnel and interests in Iraq by launching F-15 Strike Eagles against five targets associated with Kata'ib Hezbollah, which is an Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia group. The targets we attacked included three targets in Western Iraq and two targets in Eastern Syria, that were either command and control facilities or weapons caches for Kata'ib Hezbollah."

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"The strikes were successful. The pilots and aircraft returned back to base safely. I would add that in our discussion today with the president, we discussed with him other options that are available. And I would note also that we will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran. Thank you."

Milley, in uniform, did not speak. The men left without taking questions. Hogan Gidley from the WH press office presided.

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Special thanks to WHCA pooler David Martosko of the Daily Mail for warp speed transcription.

Michael Crowley

White House correspondent


1627 I Street NW

Washington, DC 20006

desk: 202-xxx-xxxx

cell: 202-xxx-xxxx

xxx@nytimes.com (mailto:xxx@nytimes.com)

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Public Pool is an automated feed of White House press pool reports. For live updates, follow @WHPublicPool on Twitter.

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