President Trump “said that the United States had carried out a missile strike in Syria in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack this week that killed more than 80 civilians,” the New York Times reports.
Said Trump: “Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
Washington Post: “The operation, which the Trump administration authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition.”
Huffington Post: “It is not clear what ― if any ― legal authority Trump is claiming to strike the Assad regime.”
Andrew Sullivan: “We learned last night a little more about how President Trump views the use of force. He is willing to use it with no notice, and narrowly. He chose to retaliate against Assad’s obscene recent use of chemical weapons against civilians, including children, to crush the remaining resistance to his sectarian dictatorship. Trump did so very swiftly – but he chose not to decimate Assad’s entire airforce, as Clinton, McCain, and Graham wanted, and as the Pentagon proposed, according to the Intercept.
So what to make of it? On the surface, it seems to follow NSC flak Michael Anton’s view that the best foreign policy is neither interventionism nor isolationism but something he once described as “enhanced whack a mole.” […]
Look: I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt that his revulsion at the gassing of children was the prompt for this dramatic and sudden use of military power. But there will doubtless be a rally in popularity at the precise moment he is sinking in the polls, appears increasingly stalled in Washington, and is desperate for a distraction. But quite what follows from this sudden impetuous drama in the Middle East remains, of course, to be seen. The one thing we know about Trump is that he hasn’t carefully thought it through.”
“The NRCC is pouring money into a last-minute TV ad buy in Kansas ahead of a Tuesday special election, seeking to pump up Republican enthusiasm and turnout in a district that President Trump carried by 27 percentage points just a few months ago,” Politico reports.
“The district has not been on the radar of most national groups and activists, which have focused on the upcoming special election in Georgia as a more competitive opportunity. But Kansas Republicans are fretting that Ron Estes’ (R) margin is closer than expected in his race against James Thompson (D).”
Wichita Eagle: “The money is being used to run an attack-ad blitz on Thompson in the closing days of the campaign.”
Click on the tweet and read Goldberg’s 11 tweet thread. I generally agree with him on this issue. Shocking, I know.
President Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon has called the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner a “cuck” and a “globalist” during a time of high tension between the two top aides, several Trump administration officials told the Daily Beast.
The fighting between Kushner and Bannon has been “nonstop” in recent weeks… It’s been an “open secret” that Bannon and Kushner often clash “face-to-face.”
The New York Times on the battle between Kushner and Bannon: “On one side are Mr. Bannon’s guerrilla warriors, eager to close the nation’s borders, dismantle decades of regulations, empower police departments and take on the establishment of both parties in Washington. On the other are Mr. Kushner’s ‘Democrats,’ an appellation used to describe even Republicans who want to soften Mr. Trump’s rough edges and broaden his narrow popular appeal after months of historically low poll numbers.”
“In the middle is Mr. Trump himself, seemingly torn between the two factions, tilting one way or the other depending on the day, or even the hour, while he seeks to recapture momentum after a series of defeats in Congress and the courts. As he did throughout his career in business and entertainment, Mr. Trump plays advisers off one another, encouraging a sort of free-for-all competition for influence and ideas within his circle, so long as everyone demonstrates loyalty to him.”
Josh Marshall: “Donald Trump has said all manner of contradictory things about Syria and unilateral airstrikes. He said Obama shouldn’t attack in 2013 and insisted he needed congressional authorization to do so. Now he is contradicting both points. But whether or not Trump is hypocritical is not a terribly important point at the moment. Whether he’s changed his position isn’t that important. But the rapidity and totality with which he’s done so is important. There are compelling arguments on both sides of the intervention question. But impulsive, reactive, unconsidered actions seldom generate happy results.
Another way to put this is that while I agree it’s silly for the now to focus on calling Trump a hypocrite, the man’s mercurial and inconstant nature makes his manner of coming to the decision as important as the decision itself. That tells us whether he’ll have the same worldview tomorrow, whether this is part of any larger plan. There are arguments for intervention and restraint. But given what we know of Trump, it is highly uncertain that this is part of either approach. It may simply be blowing some stuff up.”
The CIA told senior lawmakers in classified briefings last summer that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald Trump president, the New York Times reports.
“The briefings indicate that intelligence officials had evidence of Russia’s intentions to help Mr. Trump much earlier in the presidential campaign than previously thought. The briefings also reveal a critical split last summer between the CIA and counterparts at the FBI, where a number of senior officials continued to believe through last fall that Russia’s cyberattacks were aimed only at disrupting America’s political system, and not at getting Mr. Trump elected.”
Hillary Clinton said that misogyny “certainly played a role” in her bruising defeat to Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election, AFP reports. Said Clinton: “I don’t know that there is one answer. Certainly misogyny played a role, I mean that just has to be admitted.” She added: “I think in this election there was a very real struggle between what is viewed as change that is welcomed and exciting to so many Americans and change which is worrisome and threatening to so many others. And layer on the first woman president over that and I think some people, women included, had real problems.”
“When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all of his encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years,” the New York Times reports.
“But Mr. Kushner omitted any mention of dozens of contacts he has had with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and another with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, which was arranged at the behest of Mr. Kislyak.”
“While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked. The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer, and Syria will be no different.”
— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), quoted by The Hill, after the U.S. launched airstrikes in Syria.
Another thread to read.