President Trump reportedly advocated for a plan to pull all U.S. diplomats from Turkey due to his frustration with the country's refusal to release American pastor Andrew Brunson.
The plan was never never used, however, and Brunson was released on Friday and returned to the U.S. after spending two years in prison.
If it had been given a green light, the plan, which Trump demanded in August, would have shuttered the U.S. embassy and diplomatic missions in a 60-day period, a senior U.S. official told ABC News. It would have been an unprecedented move to put pressure on a NATO ally.
ABC News reported Trump became furious after Brunson was not released when he filed for an appeal to house arrest as he had reportedly been assured.
[Opinion: Why Turkey released pastor Andrew Brunson]
One unnamed senior State Department official who spoke with the outlet said, "For a while, we were in fear of an apocalyptic break in relations with Turkey."
One of half-a-dozen options, the eight-page plan was opposed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo but others, including national security adviser John Bolton, did not protest removing all diplomatic personnel.
The State Department denied that such a plan ever existed. "The assertion that there was a plan to close our diplomatic relations with Turkey or our diplomatic facilities in Turkey is patently false," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told ABC News..
Brunson was arrested on terrorism and spy charges in 2016 following a coup attempt against against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Brunson maintained his innocence. He was released last week after a Turkish court sentenced him to time served.
Last year, Erdogan proposed exchanging Brunson for cleric Fetullah Gulen, whom Erdogan alleges was involved in the coup attempt. The Trump administration later sanctioned two senior Turkish officials, and Trump had promoted increases in tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum.
Brunson met with Trump in the White House on Saturday, offering prayers and praise for the president.