In a White House known for chaos, the process of developing the U.S. response to the Syrian government’s alleged latest gas attack was proceeding with uncharacteristic deliberation, including several national security briefings for President Trump.
But then Wednesday morning, Trump upended it all with a tweet — warning Russia, the Syrian government’s backer, to “get ready” because American missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ ”
White House advisers were surprised by the missive and found it “alarming” and “distracting,” in the words of one senior official. They quickly regrouped and, together with Pentagon brass, continued readying Syria options for Trump as if nothing had happened.
On Thursday, Trump left further questions. In a tweet, he added doubt to suggestions that military action in Syria was on a fast track.
“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” he wrote in a tweet that also noted U.S.-led battlefield successes against the Islamic State.