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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Trump at the White House in May 2017. Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump signed an executive order on Monday authorizing the imposition of sanctions on current and former Turkish officials, senior administration officials told reporters Monday.

Why it matters: Trump's removal of nearly all U.S. troops from Syria created bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill, prompting members of Congress to immediately prepare sanctions bills of their own in retaliation. As Axios' Dave Lawler notes, Trump is now preempting those looming sanctions with steps of his own.

  • However, some Democratic lawmakers have already said that sanctions on Turkey alone are not enough.  
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said as much in a Monday statement, arguing that Trump must "correct course" and reverse the troop withdrawal.

The White House is pressing for a cease-fire in the region. Trump directed a senior level delegation to depart for Ankara, Turkey, as quickly as possible, the officials said, adding that he would not send a high level delegation on such short notice unless he was pretty confident there was a chance at making a deal to stop the Turkish invasion.

  • The officials said the conflict is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's fault, not Trump's.
  • "Moving a few men around in northern Syria" was not going to change much, one official said, adding that Erdogan was going to move ahead with the invasion regardless of whether the U.S. had troops on the ground.
  • The administration also announced a suspension of trade talks with Turkey and increased steel tariffs to 50%.

The officials would not say whether ISIS fighters have escaped imprisonment as a result of the fighting.

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to show that the U.S. delegation was sent to Ankara, Turkey (not to Africa).

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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