(Via ABC News)
President Donald Trump said that the attack in Syria on Tuesday “crossed a lot of lines for me,” but he did not specify how he would respond to it.
His comments came during a press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II that began with Trump’s condemning the “heinous actions,” which one Syrian group now claims killed more than 80.
Trump was asked if the attack crossed a red line for him, a reference to then-President Barack Obama‘s 2012 threat that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be seen as doing so.
“It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal — people were shocked to hear what gas it was — that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines,” he said.
Later, when a reporter noted he seemed reluctant to get involved in the matter, Trump said, “I watched past administrations say we will attack at such and such a day at such and such an hour … I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or the other.”
On Tuesday, a statement from Trump said the attack was “a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.”
But Wednesday Trump said, “I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly.”
The comments came on a day when U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, suggested that the U.S. could respond unilaterally to the attack if the United Nations fails to act. Haley was urging passage of a draft resolution condemning the attack, but Russia opposed the resolution asserting that it condemns the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad without proof. Russian diplomats claimed the gas discharge came from a rebel warehouse that was bombed by the Syrian air force.
However, during a photo op with the Mexican Foreign Secretary on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there’s “no doubt in our mind” that the Assad regime was behind the attack.
The new tone from the Trump administration is a marked change from statements officials made just last week — when both Tillerson and Haley signaled in press interviews that the administration was not pushing for Assad’s removal. On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said it wasn’t “coincidental” that the chemical attack followed that softening. “It’s my belief that if you’re Bashar al-Assad and you read that it is no longer a priority of the United States to have you removed from power — I believe that that is an incentive to act with impunity,” Rubio said at a news conference.