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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria in a series of tweets Monday, saying he would much rather focus on the U.S. southern border and "let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land."

Why it matters: Trump's decision has provoked strong criticism from Republicans in Washington and prominent religious conservatives. Although the president expressed approval at the idea of sanctioning Turkey amid their military offensive into the region, he has stood by the decision to withdraw.

  • "Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte." read one of the president's tweets. "I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!"

The big picture: The primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic forces, which had allied with the U.S. to fight ISIS, struck a deal with the Syrian government to help protect the border with Turkey, according to a Washington Post report Sunday.

  • On Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) discussed a bipartisan effort to overturn the president's withdrawal and potential sanctions against Turkey.

What they're saying:

  • Graham appeared to criticize the president's tweets without directly mentioning him, "To those who believe radical Islam is not a threat to our homeland after 9/11 and the rise of ISIS: you are sadly mistaken and ignoring all military advice."
  • Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also did not name Trump directly in a statement he put out on Twitter more than 30 minutes after Trump began tweeting, but said withdrawing American forces in the region "would only make a troubling situation much worse" for the U.S. and its allies in the region.

Go deeper: Behind the scenes of the Trump bluff that kicked off Turkey's invasion

Go deeper

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.