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Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Spicer opened the briefing with a discussion of global reaction to the U.S. missile strike in Syria: "By all measures, the world and domestic reaction was highly laudable of the president's action," said Spicer. He added that, "If you look at the countries that are with us, it speaks pretty loudly. Russia stands with Syria, North Korea and Iran." Other takeaways:

  • Why bomb but not take refugees? "With respect to the people of Syria, by us taking action and de-escalating what's going on in Syria, that's the greatest thing you can do to support those people." Spicer added that the U.S. plans to work with allies "including Russia" to create safe zones.
  • Is Assad a war criminal? Spicer says that's for a court to decide.
  • Tillerson in Moscow: "There's a lot of things to discuss... the overall fight on ISIS... we need to remind them of the commitments they made and the commitments Syria made... We need to see what goes beyond rhetoric and what [Russia is] willing to commit to in action."
  • Middle East policy: Spicer said America's goal is to beat ISIS, then "we can apply political, economic and diplomatic pressure for regime change" in Syria. He added that if the WH can make a deal with Russia to defeat ISIS, "we'll do it."
  • WH infighting: Spicer said Trump is "very confident" that Bannon, Kushner and other senior aides can resolve their differences, noting that a lot of the reports have been "a little bit more sensational than it truly is." He later added that Trump "doesn't want a monolithical thought process in the White House... There is always going to be a healthy debate internally."

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.