The United States was closer to war than the public knew, President Donald Trump privately told media invited to the "off the record" State of the Union luncheon, CNN reported.
The report comes from CNN's Jim Acosta, who reported he was barred from the luncheon – perahaps because of past leaks – and proceeded to leak the unsubstantiated report.
"At an off the record lunch with news anchors, an event CNN was barred from attending, the president said the U.S. was closer to war with Iran than the public actually knew," Acosta reported Tuesday night on CNN.
Trump is expected to tout his taking out of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani during his State of the Union address, and the claim was made to help justify the killing, per the report.
The killing led to Iran's retaliatory strikes of Iraqi airbases housing American forces, leading to dozens of soldiers being treated for mild traumatic head injuries, commonly known as concussion.
Also, Acosta reported, citing hearsay, Trump will deliver another speech Wednesday after his expected acquittal on two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but White House officials were "scrambling" Wednesday to deny plans for that speech.
"The president has thrown his team a curveball just ahead of tonight's state of the union speech," Acosta told CNN.
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