President Trump opened a joint press conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Wednesday afternoon by condemning the chemical attack against civilians one day earlier in Syria.
“Yesterday. Chemical attack. A chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children and even beautiful little babies. Their deaths was an affront to humanity,” Trump said. “These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated.”
Trump said the United States stands with its allies throughout the world in condemning the attack and “all other horrific attacks for that matter.”
The meeting between Trump and Abdullah was their second since the president’s inauguration in January and their first at the White House. Trump praised Abdullah as “a great fighter” and thanked Jordan for its part in fighting terrorist groups like ISIS.
After opening statements, Trump was asked about the written statement he released on Tuesday that pinned much of the blame for the chaos in Syria on the Obama administration’s “weakness and irresolution,” particularly concerning his predecessor’s failure to intervene after drawing a “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons in 2012.
“You’re the president now. Do you feel like you bear responsibility for responding to the chemical attacks? And does the chemical attack cross a red line for you?” asked Julie Pace, a White House correspondent for the Associated Press.
Trump responded that the Obama administration had a great opportunity to “solve this crisis a long time ago.”
“When he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat,” Trump said. “I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country, so I do feel that, Julie. I feel it very strongly.”
Pace pressed Trump to answer the question about whether he now feels any responsibility to respond to the chemical attacks.
“I now have responsibility and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly,” Trump said. “I will tell you that. It is now my responsibility.”
Pace repeated her question about whether the chemical attack crossed a “red line” for him.
Trump replied that it went far beyond crossing a red line and in fact crossed “many, many lines.”
“It crossed a lot of lines for me,” Trump said.
Later in the press conference, Trump said he thinks of himself as a flexible person and that the attack on children in Syria had a “big impact” on him.
“That was a horrible, horrible thing, and I’ve been watching it and seeing it. And it doesn’t get any worse than that. And I have that flexibility. And it’s very, very possible and I will tell you it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”
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