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Sen. Rand Paul and President Donald Trump. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said after leaving a White House meeting yesterday that not only is President Trump "following through with his Syria policy, I really think there will be changes in Afghanistan, as well."

Between the lines: Trump at times has vented frustration and regret that he allowed his national security team to talk him into a plan — which ran against his own instincts — to keep, and even boost, American forces in Afghanistan.

  • Paul, who wants America to withdraw quickly from foreign wars, told reporters on an evening call that he was "really proud of the president" for arguments he made in the meeting with a small group of senators.
  • Paul said Trump mentioned in the meeting how much money the U.S. had been wasting in these foreign wars, especially in Afghanistan.
  • He said Trump mentioned "luxury hotels" there — possibly a reference to plans for a swanky hotel reported by NPR in 2016.

A senior administration official told me that when bad news broke about Afghanistan in the wake of that decision, Trump would vent to his generals that it was "your" plan.

What's next? Paul said he didn't want to talk about timelines for withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan — he would leave that to the president.

  • But he conceded that it sounded like Trump "probably will still be there [Afghanistan] longer than I would like to."
  • Paul was encouraged that Trump seemed to be preparing "to acknowledge success and victory," and not stick to an open-ended commitment.
  • Paul said the deaths of service members affect Trump: "He's not willing to endlessly go on and on and on ... He wants a different future for our country."

According to a source familiar with the meeting, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) argued against Paul’s position and told Trump that "the U.S. made big progress, but pulling out too soon" from Syria "will undermine that progress."

  • Rubio has been making the argument that ISIS "is morphing because of U.S. action from a caliphate to an insurgency," the source added.
  • "Insurgencies are blending into populations. They are tough to beat, especially by air power alone."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.