President Donald Trump on Friday doubled down in accusing Iran of executing explosions on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, saying the incident had Iran “written all over it.”
However, as US-Iranian tensions soared, Trump dismissed previous threats by Tehran that in case of conflict it could block the Hormuz Strait — a narrow seaway vital to the world’s oil supplies.
“They’re not going to be closing it,” he said in an interview on Fox News television.
Speaking hours after the US military released grainy footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an “unexploded limpet mine” from one of the tankers, Trump said “Iran did do it.”
“You know they did it because you saw the boat,” Trump told the “Fox and Friends” show.
“I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it.”
“You saw the boat at night, successfully trying to take the mine off — and that was exposed,” he added.
Iran rejects the US accusations.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the US had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence.”
He accused Washington of seeking to “sabotage diplomacy” as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran. One of the targeted vessels is owned by a Japanese company while the other was Norwegian-operated.
Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the far more powerful United States.
Doing so, would disrupt traffic of oil tankers between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, which leads to the Indian Ocean and global export routes.
“If the hostility of enemies increase, we will be able to do so,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, Mohammad Bagheri, told semi-official ISNA in April.
Trump played down the threat.
“It’s not going to be closed, it’s not going to be closed for long and they know it. They’ve been told in very strong terms,” Trump told Fox News.
WATCH: AOC dunks on GOP for ‘beclowning themselves’ during Trump’s impeachment
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) blasted her Republican colleagues on national TV on Friday.
Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, is the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives. She was interviewed on MSNBC's "All In" by anchor Chris Hayes.
"Midway through today's impeachment inquiry, the president was accused of witness tampering," Hayes noted. "One of the sharpest rejoinders came from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez."
The host read her tweet to the live studio audience.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2019
‘The worst day of the presidency so far for Donald Trump’: Advisor to four presidents
President Donald Trump has not had a worse day in office than he suffered on Friday, according to a top former White House advisor.
David Gergen served in the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He was interviewed Friday night by CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"If you are looking to throw somebody under the bus, Gordon Sondland would probably be a prime candidate to be next in line to be thrown under the bus," Cooper said.
"I think the president will wait patiently to see what he says and then decide," Gergen replied.
He then offered his analysis of the situation.
Chris Hayes breaks down the ‘busy day in the criminal chronicles of one President Donald J. Trump’
MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes connected the dots between all of the bombshell news that was reported Friday in the impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump.
"Good God, today has been ten days and this week has been ten weeks," Hayes said. "And there are a million things happening at once."
"Just in the past couple of hours, for instance, we just got this incredibly incriminating and damning behind closed doors testimony from a U.S. foreign service officer that was still supposed to be kind of like the B-story today, the sideshow," he explained. "It's a guy who works in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, a guy named David Holmes. He testified behind closed doors that he could hear president Trump talking on the phone to the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union who was an inaugural donor, and they were in a restaurant in Kiev and the president was shouting so loudly on the phone that [Gordon] Sondland had to hold the phone away from his ear because it was hurting his eardrum, so then everyone could hear."