Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 14, 2018

U.S. launches strikes on Syria in response to suspected chemical attack, Russia denounces 'treacherous and insane' Syria strikes, and more

1

U.S. launches strikes on Syria in response to suspected chemical attack

The U.S. launched a series of strikes in Syria targeting chemical weapons facilities, President Trump announced Friday night. The military attack was ordered in coordination with France and the U.K. in response to what the U.S. believes was a chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last week. The Syrian government is accused of deploying chemical weapons against civilians in eastern Ghouta. "The purpose of our action tonight is to establish a strong deterrent" against the use of chemical weapons, Trump said in a statement, adding that the strikes would continue until "the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents." CNN reports that the Syrian military shot down missiles targeting Damascus.

2

Russia denounces 'treacherous and insane' Syria strikes

Moscow on Saturday condemned Friday night's U.S. strikes on Bashar al-Assad regime targets in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. is "deepening a humanitarian catastrophe," while a Russian embassy statement called the attack "treacherous and insane" and a "clear and present danger to world peace" which violates international law. Fellow Syrian ally Iran also slammed the strikes. "I explicitly announce that the U.S. president, French president, and the British prime minister are criminals and have committed crime," said Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Assad himself told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani the attack has only strengthened his commitment to "crush terrorism in every inch" of Syria.

3

Trump celebrates Syria strikes: 'Mission Accomplished!'

"A perfectly executed strike last night," President Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday morning of Friday night's U.S.-led strikes on Syrian regime targets. "Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!" Many of the president's prominent supporters do not share his enthusiasm. Fox News' Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham questioned the wisdom of the attack Friday night, with Carlson contrasting the decision with Trump's campaign rhetoric and Ingraham making a comparison to the war in Iraq. Infowars host Alex Jones, in tears, said Trump backers have "made so many sacrifices and now he's crapping all over us."

4

U.S. allies endorse Syria strikes

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday joined British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron in endorsing the overnight U.S.-led strikes on Syria. Merkel said the attack was "necessary and appropriate, to ensure the effectiveness of the international ban of chemical weapons use and to warn the Syrian regime of further attempts." Another strike could happen, said the French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, if the "red line is crossed again" with another chemical attack. France also declassified an intelligence report supporting Washington's allegation that the Syrian regime was responsible for chemical weapons use last week.

5

Democrats, some Republicans slam Trump for striking Syria without authorization

Congressional Democrats and some Republicans slammed President Trump for ordering military strikes on Syria without seeking congressional authorization. "The Constitution gives Congress the power to authorize military action," wrote Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Twitter, demanding Trump come to Congress before escalating U.S. intervention in Syria. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) likewise called the strikes "illegal," while minority leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave more moderate responses. Republicans including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) also critiqued Trump's decision. "These offensive strikes against Syria are unconstitutional, illegal, and reckless," wrote Amash.

6

Comey memoir excerpts elicit renewed anger from Trump

President Trump is "untethered to the truth" and has built a "cocoon of alternative reality," former FBI Director James Comey writes in his new book, A Higher Loyalty. When he first met Trump, Comey says, he had "flashbacks" to when he prosecuted members of the mob. Trump has made it clear he is not a fan of the book, calling Comey an "untruthful slime ball." His growing frustration with Justice Department officials has led Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to believe that he will soon be fired. While White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has denied Trump plans to oust Rosenstein, sources say the move is imminent.

7

Federal prosecutors reveal Michael Cohen is under criminal investigation

President Trump's personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen was the target of an FBI raid Monday as a result of a "months-long investigation," federal prosecutors said in a Friday court filing. His files were seized to "seek evidence of crimes" related to Cohen's personal business dealings. The Los Angeles Times reports the filing also used Trump's claims of ignorance regarding Cohen's $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels as evidence that communications between Trump and Cohen about the payment may not be protected under attorney-client privilege. Trump reportedly phoned Cohen Friday to "check in" while their lawyers sought to protect the seized files.

8

RNC official who hired Michael Cohen for Playboy settlement resigns

The Republican National Committee (RNC) deputy finance chair, Elliott Broidy, resigned from his position Friday after news broke that he hired President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to negotiate a settlement with a Playboy model in 2016. "I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate," Broidy said in a statement. "At the end of our relationship, this woman shared with me that she was pregnant. She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period." Broidy, who is married, resigned after the $1.6 million deal came to light.

9

DOJ report alleges misconduct by Andrew McCabe

The Justice Department has accused former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe of misleading investigators and providing information to the press without authorization. In a report delivered to Congress on Friday, the DOJ claimed McCabe violated multiple department policies leading to his firing in March just days before he was set to retire and receive a pension. McCabe denies the allegations. He has argued his dismissal was an attempt to dismantle his credibility before he testified regarding President Trump's potential obstruction of justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

10

Oscar-winning director Milos Forman dies at 86

Renowned director Milos Forman died early Saturday morning at a hospital near his Connecticut home, his family announced through his agent. He was 86. Known for films including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, and Man on the Moon, Forman won two Oscars in the best director category and was nominated for a third. He was born in 1932 in what was then known as Czechoslovakia, and during World War II, Forman's mother was killed at Auschwitz. He was part of the "Czechoslovak new wave" of film but fled his home country after the imposition of Soviet rule. He is survived by four children.

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