Trump is "crazy" and his administration is "confused," Iran's director of foreign affairs for the country's parliament, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, told CNN in an exclusive interview Monday.
Hossein pointed to the US leader's ongoing campaign to strangle Iran's economy on the one hand and his requests for Iran to talk on the other.
"In his mind, Trump thinks he has a gun to Iran's head with sanctions and he is trying to shut down our economy," Amir-Abdollahian told CNN's Fred Pleitgen.
"This is all in his imagination. Now he wants us to call him? This is a crazy president!"
"Within the White House there is a lot of conflicting opinions," Amir-Abdollahian continued, pointing to "warmongers" in the West Wing and naming national security adviser John Bolton. "Also, Trump is not quite balanced and stable in his decision making, so we are dealing with a confused White House. Iran receives various signals which show that no one knows who owns the White House."
Hours after Amir-Abdollahian made that observation to Pleitgen, Trump split from his most senior officials' message about an imminent Iranian threat, reflecting another possible conflicting opinion within the West Wing.
"We have no indication that anything's happened or will happen, but if it does, it will be met obviously with great force," Trump said at the White House Monday.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything. If they do something it will be met with great force, but we have no indication that they will."
Trump's assessment differed sharply from the message conveyed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Bolton. Pompeo warned of escalating and "imminent" attacks by Iran in early May, Bolton said the US would respond with "unrelenting force."
As further evidence, Amir-Abdollahian added that "Trump's tweets are self-contradictory."
Just hours after the Iranian official made that observation to Pleitgen, Trump doubled down on the mixed messages by denying the US is trying to talk to Tehran at all. The day before, the President had threatened on Twitter that a fight with the US would be "the official end of Iran."
"Fake News put out a typically false statement, without any knowledge that the United States was trying to set up a negotiation with Iran. This is a false report," Trump tweeted Monday. "Iran will call us if and when they are ever ready. In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse - very sad for the Iranian people!"
But there are several signs – not least from the President himself – that the US has in fact been trying to start a conversation with Tehran.
Trump said Monday that if Iran called, "we would certainly negotiate, I only want them to call if they're ready," he said.
The Monday tweet followed his May 9 declaration that what Tehran "should be doing is calling me up," and his May 16 comment that he not only hoped the two countries don't go to war, but that he was sure "Iran will want to talk soon."