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Smoke following Turkish bombardment on Syrian town of Ras al-Ain. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

Republican members of Congress on Wednesday harshly condemned Turkey's ongoing military offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, which follows President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the area.

The big picture: Some of the most intense criticism of Trump's Syria decision, which cleared the way for Turkey to attack Kurdish fighters that they consider terrorists, has come from the president's closest allies in Congress. 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.

What they're saying:

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): "Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS. Will lead effort in Congress to make Erdogan pay a heavy price. I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time by going back to the safe zone concept that was working."
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.): "A Turkish military advance into Syria threatens to halt momentum against ISIS, directly assaults our SDF partners, and could give the likes of al-Qaeda and Iran new footholds in the region. Turkey should stop immediately and continue to work with the US to secure the region."
  • GOP House Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.): "News from Syria is sickening. Turkish troops preparing to invade Syria from the north, Russian-backed forces from the south, ISIS fighters attacking Raqqa. Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS."

Go deeper: Syria decision exposes Trump to political peril

Go deeper

Bill Gates faces scrutiny over relationship with Microsoft employee, Epstein ties

Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Representatives for Bill Gates pushed back on claims Sunday that he left Microsoft's board because of an earlier sexual relationship and against two other reports detailing more extensive ties with Jeffrey Epstein than had previously been reported.

Driving the news: Microsoft said in an emailed statement to Axios that it "received a concern" in 2019 that its co-founder "sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000," but denied a Wall Street Journal report that its board members thought Gates should resign over the matter.

AT&T in talks with Discovery to combine media assets

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AT&T is in talks with media giant Discovery about merging its media assets, like CNN, TBS and TNT, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: A potential merger could allow AT&T and Discovery to better compete with entertainment giants like Disney and Netflix in the video streaming wars.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Franklin Graham worries Trump too old to run in 2024

Graham and Trump at a rally in 2017. Photo: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The Rev. Franklin Graham says a potential 2024 presidential bid by Donald Trump would "be a very tough thing to do," the prominent Christian leader told "Axios on HBO."

Why it matters: Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, was among Trump's earliest and most prominent evangelical defenders.