Apr 10, 2017

Key takeaways from Spicer's Monday briefing

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

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."