TRUMP AGENDA: Syria strikes
The New York Times: “In launching a military strike just 77 days into his administration, President Trump has the opportunity, but hardly a guarantee, to change the perception of disarray in his administration. The attack will also shape the meeting next week between Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — the first face-to-face encounter between the Russian leader and a member of the Trump administration.”
The Washington Post asks: What comes next?
Russia is calling the strikes “aggression against a sovereign country,” NBC News reports.
Analysis from the Wall Street Journal: “It’s not 2013 anymore, and striking the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today carries fewer consequences than when the Obama administration ignored its own “red line” on Damascus’s use of chemical weapons. This time around, thanks to solid Russian support, the Assad regime isn’t under serious threat. As a result, there is no “you break it, you own it” risk to consider. President Donald Trump, in ordering Friday morning’s missile launch to retaliate for a sarin gas attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, didn’t have to contemplate how the U.S. would handle a resulting vacuum in Damascus.”
Trump’s conspiracy theory-loving allies think he is being tricked into getting involved in Syria, the Washington Post notes.
POLITICO sums up the congressional reaction to the missile attacks: “President Donald Trump’s missile attacks against the Syrian government on Thursday night split Congress into several camps, winning bipartisan backing from some senior lawmakers while also sparking a coalition of those on the left and right who raised constitutional concerns.”
“The C.I.A. told senior lawmakers in classified briefings last summer that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president, a finding that did not emerge publicly until after Mr. Trump’s victory months later, former government officials say,” the New York Times reports. “The briefings indicate that intelligence officials had evidence of Russia’s intentions to help Mr. Trump much earlier in the presidential campaign than previously thought. The briefings also reveal a critical split last summer between the C.I.A. and counterparts at the F.B.I., where a number of senior officials continued to believe through last fall that Russia’s cyberattacks were aimed primarily at disrupting America’s political system, and not at getting Mr. Trump elected, according to interviews.”
CONGRESS: Senate set to confirm Gorsuch
Leigh Ann Caldwell sums up the nuclear option battle that played out yesterday in the Senate.
The Senate is set to confirm Neil Gorsuch this morning.
And the big Russia news from yesterday on the Hill: “House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said Thursday he will temporarily step aside from the committee's investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election after coming under harsh criticism. The California Republican cited ethics complaints leveled against him alleging he violated House rules by discussing classified information after making the explosive claim there may be evidence backing up President Donald Trump's accusation that members of President Barack Obama's administration conducted surveillance on Trump campaign aides.”
The AP profiles Mike Conaway, who will take Nunes’ place.