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."