MSNBC's Joe Scarborough wonders whether President Donald Trump had coordinated with Russian president Vladimir Putin on the escalating conflict with Iran.
The "Morning Joe" host speculated early in a segment on the Iran missile strike that Trump had gotten advice from a "third party" on the assassination of Iranian general Qassim Suleimani, which then prompted an attack on U.S. troops at an airbase in Iraq.
"As I woke up this morning and replayed the events in my mind, and, by the way, I hope this is the case, there seemed to be something very choreographed about everything that happened last night," Scarborough said.
"You had the president, the vice president, members of his Cabinet sitting in the White House in the late afternoon knowing an attack was coming," he continued. "The Iranians launched those attacks, they struck an American base, so they are seen as the winner by their people, announced incorrectly that 30 Americans had been killed immediately, but reports, initial reports, again, suggest no Americans were killed."
"They then came out and (said) we do not seek escalation, they said we seek no escalation, this is done," he added. "Donald Trump responded likewise. I just -- it does seem very choreographed, and I just wonder if a third party got involved and may have called the president or someone else."
Later in the segment, after historian Jon Meacham described the parallels between the Iran escalation and the Cuban missile crisis, Scarborough made clear what he had previously hinted.
"It is interesting you brought up Vladimir Putin," Scarborough said, "because when I said I suspected that the president spoke to a third party, it would be hard to believe that Donald Trump would launch attacks into Iran without speaking first to Vladimir Putin, considering that he has deferred to the Russian president on Syria, he has deferred to the Russian president on removing troops from that area, he has deferred to the Russian president on Ukraine, he has deferred to the Russian president on most geopolitical questions that impacted the Russians."
"This would obviously lie at the heart of Vladimir Putin's interests," he added, "since Iran has long been seen by Putin as a client state of Russia."
Scarborough said he doesn't believe the situation is quite as dire as the Cuban missile crisis, but he said the risk of war remains high.
"The stakes may not have been quite as high last night, but if things had gone badly last night -- and, again, they still can today as we're all saying -- it could have led to catastrophic consequences," he said.