President Trump is reportedly looking to avoid levying new economic sanctions on Russia in response to a suspected chemical attack by Syria this month.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, announced Sunday that sanctions would be forthcoming to send "a strong message" denouncing Russia's backing of the Syrian government. But The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump was upset that the sanctions were already in motion because he was "not yet comfortable executing them." The president reportedly wants to instead wait to see if Russia further provokes a response from the U.S. before deciding on sanctions.
The president reportedly had not approved the sanctions when Haley announced them, and on Monday the White House publicly backpedaled Haley's statement. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration is merely "considering additional sanctions," and that "a decision will be made in the near future." Publicly, officials sought to paint Haley's announcement as a misstatement or an "error that needs to be mopped up," officials told the Post.
Other sources said that there was confusion among administration officials and that it was unclear what the plan actually was. Haley reportedly confers with Trump frequently and is careful specifically to review her talking points before public appearances — which would make this instance unusual if it was, in fact, a mistake, the Post noted.