US President Donald Trump gave a go ahead for a missile strike against the Syrian regime from his Mar a-Lago resort in Florida after a series of meetings and conference calls with his national security team, the White House said today. And in less than four hours after he gave the green signal, missiles were launched against the Syrian regime, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.
Giving a timeline of Trump’s decision making process, Spicer said the President first heard about the gas attack in Syria at his daily briefing on Tuesday at about 10:30 am. He asked questions and his team for a range of options.
There was another meeting at 8 pm Tuesday at the White House on options and again Wednesday morning.
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Trump met again 3 pm Wednesday and decided to reconvene Thursday for a decision.
On route to Florida on Thursday, at about 1:30 pm, he spoke through secured video conference with his team and again at 4 pm with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others in a secure room in Palm Beach.
That’s when the “President gave the OK to move ahead,” Spicer said. Missiles were launched at 7:40 pm during dinner.
Foreign leaders and congressional leaders were notified starting at 8:30 pm, just as first impacts were hitting the ground, Spicer said, adding that these calls were made by the Secretary of State, Defence Secretary and the National Security Council.
Trump informed the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping as dinner concluded.
After dinner, Trump went to secure room with his Secretaries of State Rex Tillerson and the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and had secure conference call with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
During the call, Trump asked about effectiveness and was told it would take few hours but initial results positive.
Responding to questions, Trump said congressional and world leaders had fairly unanimous praise.
However, he refrained from spelling out the next moves of the Trump Administration.
“He’s not going to telegraph his next move,” he said.
The attack was “very decisive justified and proportional”, he added.
He said the actions were taken were clearly against the Assad regime.
There was no political contact with Moscow, just military “last night sent a very clear signal”.
Spicer said the President was very disturbed by the chemical attack.
“It was very disturbing and tragic and moving to him. He had a very deliberative process of asking his national security team to develop options,” he said.
Trump, he said believes that the Syrian government and the Assad regime should abide by the agreement they made not to use chemical weapons.