Oct 13, 2019

Trump defends decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump told the Value Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., an annual conference of Christian conservatives, that he feels like he's on an "island of one" over his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria. But he said the U.S. has to "bring our great heroes" home.

Why it matters: Trump has faced criticism from some Republicans and religious conservatives concerned that he's "left Kurdish Christians open to Turkey’s military offensive," per the Washington Post. Turkey launched a military offensive soon after the president announced the withdrawal.

  • Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired 4-star general, told NBC News that the Islamic State, or ISIS, militant group "will resurge" unless the U.S. keeps up pressure in northern Syria.

The big picture: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are drafting a bipartisan bill to sanction Turkey for attacking the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, which partnered with the U.S. in 2015 in the fight against ISIS.

  • Graham told Axios' Jonathan Swan this week that Trump was "putting the nation at risk, and I think he's putting his presidency at risk."

What he's saying: Trump told the Value Voters Summit that the Kurdish forces "are fighting for their land." "They haven’t help us fight for our land," he said. "They’re fighting for their land and that’s good, but we’ve helped them."

"I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders at home."

Go deeper: Syria decision exposes Trump to political peril

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 5,375,648 — Total deaths: 343,721 — Total recoveries — 2,149,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 1,639,872 — Total deaths: 97,599 — Total recoveries: 361,239 — Total tested: 13,784,786Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.

Trumpworld's plan to brand Biden

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mandel Ngan/AFP

Trump's advisers relish the contrast between his public appearances and Joe Biden's lack thereof. The former vice president, following the guidance of public experts, has eschewed public events and stayed home for months now. Trump, meanwhile, is out and about — masks be damned.

What we're hearing: Watch for plenty more mask-free outings from Trump, hyping the reopening of the economy and avoiding discussions of social distancing and death counts.