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Evan Vucci / AP

Last night's strike on Syria, on Day 77 of the Trump presidency, was the first time the nation and the world had seen him act as commander-in-chief. He moved quickly and decisively, but now is a central player in what CNN's Fareed Zakaria last night called "one of the most complicated international crises I've ever seen in my life."

Truth is: Trump, for months, has been telling people in private to expect an unexpectedly harsh response to Syrian aggression.

The attack had the ancillary effect of separating Trump from Putin, who views the the strikes as "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law," and believes the attack was done under a "trumped-up pretext," according to his spokesman.

Trump aides say they're proud of his decision. A senior administration official gave me this window into the president's thinking:

  • The White House sees this as "leadership week": the decision to order a missile strike on Syria after its deadly nerve-agent attack on its own citizens, including children; a prime-time announcement to the nation from Mar-a-Lago last night, in which Trump said, "God bless America and the entire world"; his assertive stance on North Korea, with the rogue state testing him by firing a ballistic missile; and meetings with the heads of state of Egypt, Jordan and, continuing today, China.
  • Trump had said Wednesday that the chemical attack "crossed a lot of lines for me ... innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies." The official said: "Nothing clarifies the mind like seeing those images."
  • The official said that in his response to the grim, moving photos, Trump was acting partly as a father and a grandfather. As he said said on the campaign trail, he consulted his generals. He took the briefings, discussed the options, then acted after "years of dithering" by the United States, the official added.

From Trump's three-minute statement to the nation from Mar-a-Lago at 9:40 p.m.: "Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We ask for God's wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed.

"And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail. Good night. And God bless America and the entire world. Thank you."

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Go deeper

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.

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