Feb 9, 2018

Tim Kaine wants memo on Trump’s justification for airstrikes in Syria

Sen. Tim Kaine. Photo: Cheriss May / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Kaine, member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees sent a letter Thursday evening to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson requesting he “immediately” give Congress a memo outlining the legal justification behind the airstrikes in Syria last April.

The backdrop: The Virginia Senator's request came after U.S. forces launched strikes on pro-Syrian government forces in Eastern Syria earlier this week in what the Pentagon claims was in “self-defense” to an “unprovoked” assault.

The big picture: Kaine wrote that that he believes that the strikes do not "justify U.S. military action without the authorization of Congress." He explained that he is “concerned that this legal justification may now become precedent for additional executive unilateral military action, including this week’s U.S. airstrikes in Syria against pro-Assad forces or even an extremely risky ‘bloody nose’ strike against North Korea.”

Flashback: After the April 2017 strikes, Trump said, "I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."

Syria context this week: “I am gravely concerned that the Trump Administration is purposefully stumbling into a broader conflict,” Kaine said yesterday in a statement about the most recent onslaught of strikes. Syria claims the U.S. airstrikes “support terrorism.”

Go deeper: How the attacks in April played around the world

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 883,225 — Total deaths: 44,156 — Total recoveries: 185,377Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 189,753 — Total deaths: 4,090 — Total recoveries: 7,141Map.
  3. Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index: It's "a tale of two Americas" as the rich are more likely to work from home and the poor are more likely to report to work.
  4. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  5. State updates: Washington and California appear to have slowed their surges of new cases — Florida cases have been doubling the past four days, approaching 7,000.
  6. NYPD: Reported 1,400 of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
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Private equity hits the brakes amid coronavirus recovery uncertainties

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Private equity is still working on opportunistic deals when it can get a break from portfolio triage, but it's also boarding up the exits amid new questions about the speed of the coronavirus recovery.

The state of play: Sale processes are being shelved daily, even ones that already launched with investment bankers, data rooms, and interested suitors.

U.S. coronavirus updates: America's "very painful two weeks"

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,500 deaths reported in New York City, per Johns Hopkins.

The state of play: In a major pivot in tone, President Trump said Tuesday it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

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