Speed Reads

Trump vs Syria

President Trump says America is 'not going into Syria'

President Trump's top national security and foreign policy officials have been sending mixed signals about his policy toward Syria after the president ordered a missile strike on a Syrian government air base last Thursday. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump would take action in Syria again "if you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people," only to have the White House walk that back. On Tuesday, Trump himself weighed in, in an interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo airing Wednesday morning.

"We're not going into Syria," he said. "But when I see people using horrible, horrible chemical weapons—" Trump did not say what he planned to do if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons again, instead criticizing Assad for deploying them after he told former President Barack Obama he wouldn't. Trump also criticized Obama for not hitting Assad with missiles "a long time before I did it," saying if he had, "I think Syria would be a lot better off than it has been." (In 2013, after a previous Assad chemical weapon attack, Trump vehemently urged Obama not to attack Syria.)

It's not clear what Trump meant by "not going into Syria," but presumably he is talking about a ground invasion against Assad's regime. Last month, he sent 400 more U.S. troops into Syria, doubling the U.S. military presence in the country, to prepare for a battle for Islamic State headquarters in Raqqa.

Trump was clear, however, in his views on Assad. Russian President Vladimir Putin "is backing a person that's truly an evil person," he said. "And I think that's very bad for Russia, I think that's very bad for mankind, it's very bad for this world. But when you drop gas or bombs or barrel bombs — they have these massive barrels with dynamite and they drop them right in the middle of a group of people — and in all fairness, you see the same kids, no arms, no leg, no face. This is an animal." You can watch those statements, and how he plans to save money on health care, below. Peter Weber