Trump blames Iran for oil tanker attacks and calls us of a a 'nation of terror'

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Donald Trump has blamed Iran for recent attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, describing the country is a “nation of terror”.

Speaking with Fox News on Friday, the president rejected Tehran’s denials that it was involved in the attacks and cited a video released by US Central Command late Thursday purporting to show an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers.

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Trump blames Iran for oil tanker attacks and calls country a 'nation of terror'

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“Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” Trump said. “They’re in deep, deep trouble.”

“We don’t take it lightly,” he added, pointing out the US had already reimposed tough sanctions on Iran.

Trump blames Iran for oil tanker attacks and calls country a 'nation of terror'

“They’ve been told in very strong terms … we want to get them back to the table if they want to get back. I’m in no rush.”

Trump’s comments came during a wide-ranging interview with Fox Friends on his 73rd birthday.

Hours before Trump’s interview aired, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said the US was making allegations without “a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence” and accused the Trump administration of “sabotage diplomacy”.

Trump’s appearance on Fox Friends came as he capped off yet another week mired in controversy.

Trump ignited a firestorm on Wednesday by stating he would listen if a foreign government approached his campaign with damaging information about a political opponent. Trump also said he wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI, despite the widespread consensus that his campaign should have reported offers of Russian assistance in 2016 to federal authorities.

Trump attempted to clarify his comments on Friday, telling Fox Friends: “If I thought anything was incorrect or badly stated, I’d report it to the attorney general, the FBI, I’d report it to law enforcement, absolutely.

“Of course you’d do that, you couldn’t have that happen with our country,” he said.

At the same time, Trump said he would still look at what information a foreign government was sharing, “because if you don’t look at it, you’re not going to know if it’s bad”.

Trump also stood by his senior counselor Kellyanne Conway after a US government watchdog recommended she be removed from office for repeatedly violating a law that limits political activity for government employees.

“I’m not gonna fire her. I think she’s a terrific person. She’s a tremendous spokesperson,” Trump said. “It looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right of free speech.”

The US Office of Special Counsel released a report on Thursday stating Conway had violated the Hatch Act on several occasions by disparaging 2020 Democratic candidates while acting in her capacity as a White House official. Conway had sparked similar ethics concerns by wading into the 2017 Alabama Senate election, the investigators said.

“Ms Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions,” the report said. “Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system – the rule of law.”

Trump denied Conway was in the wrong, telling Fox Friends: “It doesn’t work that way.”

“A person wouldn’t be able to express themselves, and I just don’t see it,” he added.