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White House Press Briefing; Shooting at California School; White House Position on Assad; More Possible Action in Syria. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired April 10, 2017 - 14:00   ET



SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that, first and foremost, we need to make sure that we all understand what the -- what the situation is on the ground. There's no question who acted in this case and what Syria did. And I think that we need to make sure that Russia fully understands the actions that Assad took, the commitments that Syria has made -- and Russia has equally agree to those same -- understanding. So getting them back on the same page, first and foremost, would seem the logical step.

But secondly, and I guess, you know, equally as important, is to make sure that the areas where we can find a commitment to defeat ISIS is something that we share.


QUESTION: So what -- the president wants the secretary of state to put the threat of sanctions on the table to get Russia's attention in this matter, because the secretary of state said Russia's either complicit or incompetent. What does the president believe Russia actually is in this...

SPICER: Well, look, we'll have plenty of time to discuss how those talks go.

I don't want to -- the one thing the president's been very clear on from the get-go, is he doesn't like to telegraph all the cards that he has. I think he wants to see how that conversation goes with Secretary Tillerson.

If we can get them to agree to commit to action on defeating ISIS, get the...

QUESTION: (inaudible)

SPICER: Well, I -- I think that's what they're going to have a discussion about.

I think that we need to see what goes beyond rhetoric, and what goes -- where that talk starts, and what they're willing to commit to in action.

I think that's important. To get ahead of this right now, before they meet, is not something I want to do. I'd like to let Secretary Tillerson meet with Lavrov, have that conversation, and then report back.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) quickly about the White House itself.

What is the president's perspective on the ability -- the current ability of his senior advisers to resolve their ideological differences and resolve their personality differences and work as a team?

SPICER: He's very confident in that.


SPICER: Because this is the same group, with the same ideologies, the same strengths, they came together for a common purpose to win a campaign. There is an unbelievably talented team at the senior level and at the mid-level and, frankly, all the way down to the bottom level of this administration that is committed to the president's agenda.

I said this multiple times throughout the transition: that everybody that came into this administration, while they might have a personal view or an action on an issue, they understand and understood and understand the president's vision and agenda. And their goal of -- of coming into this was to understand, first and foremost, that it is the president who made pledges and promises to the American people about the direction he'd take this country and the actions he's taken.

And -- and he is doing that, and I just read off a series of them, in terms of the judges that he's appointed, the Congressional Review Act pieces of legislation that he's signed, the executive orders. When you look at the actions that he's taken and the results that he's getting -- 60 percent down on the border, nobody would dispute the fact that immigration was a hot topic during this -- during this campaign. And the president's actions are seeing results. And -- and I think you're seeing it both on the market and on our national security front.

So he -- he understands that we have some pretty smart, talented individuals who are opinionated on a lot of subjects, but that our battles and our policy differences need to be behind closed doors. We need to focus and ultimately all come out committed to advancing the president's agenda.

But he is -- he is completely aware of the talent that he has. And that's part of the reason that he's brought this team together, is because of the -- the talent and successes and accomplishments they've had on a variety of backgrounds. And he fully believes that they are going to continue to push forward to advance his agenda.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) lend him to have -- or order this meeting on Friday where the two principals, Bannon and Jared Kushner, were essentially told by the president, "Cool this and get along and get on the same page"? SPICER: Well, look, I think there's a lot of stuff that was overblown about this that -- that makes it out into the media sometimes and gets a little bit more sensational than it truly is.

But I think the president's obviously very pleased with the last week that he's had and the accomplishments, especially on the foreign policy front. I think we had an unbelievably helpful and productive meeting with the Chinese. His meeting with King Abdullah was unbelievable. And he's continued to have very strong foreign policy wins, in terms of the -- the relationships that we're making with other heads of state. The attack on Syria won not just bipartisan praise here at home, but world praise.

And I think that he recognizes that sometimes some of it spills over, these policy differences and discussions, and he's made sure that the focus stays on -- on advancing the agenda.

QUESTION: Sean, thanks.

If -- if you're saying one of the priorities is to see a regime change in Syria, how far is the president willing to go to see Bashar al- Assad out of power there?

SPICER: So, just to be clear, I can't -- I don't think it's -- it's -- you can't imagine a -- a stable and peaceful Syria with Assad as -- as -- in charge. I just -- I don't think that's a scenario that's possible.

But I think that the first step in that has to be to make sure that the region and Syria in particular are stable. You can't have ISIS marching through Syria and -- and -- and then worry mostly about who's in charge right now.

We've got to make sure that. first and foremost, in terms of our national security -- and I think it was Brian's (ph) question at the beginning -- our national security is the first and foremost reason that we have to act. And as ISIS is proliferating and mass -- chemicals of mass destruction are on the rise there, we've got to contain that.

Then, once that's done, I think we can apply political, economic and diplomatic pressure for regime change.

Now, they can -- they can work in tandem. I'm not trying to -- but -- but the bottom line is, the first priority is still the -- the containment of ISIS and the -- in the conflict that's occurring.

QUESTION: And -- and is the red line -- just to clarify, if the red line for this White House chemical warfare? Is conventional warfare enough to get the president to go further there than -- than this White House has gone before?

SPICER: Look, I think the president has been very clear that there are a number of lines that were crossed last week. He's not going to sit down -- we -- we saw that in the last administration. They -- they drew these red lines and then the red lines were run over. I don't think you're going to see the same play.

I think what -- not just Syria, but the world saw last week is a president that is going to act decisively and proportionally and with justification when it comes to actions like that.

And, I mean -- and I will tell you, the answer is, is that if you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb in to innocent people, I think you can -- you will -- you will see a response from this president. That is unacceptable and I think the rest of the world...



SPICER: I think -- look, I -- again, one of the things that I don't want to start doing, Cecilia, is say, "If you do this, this is the reaction that you're going to get."

The president's made very clear throughout his time in the campaign, through the transition and now as president, that he's not going to telegraph a response to every corresponding action, because that just tells the -- the opposition or the enemy what you're going to do and whether or not that response is worth taking.

The president's going to be very clear that he's going to keep his -- his cards close to the vest. But make no mistake, he will act.

John (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sean.

I wanted to ask you about the reaction that the president took in terms of military involvement on (inaudible). You said in your statement that all 59 of those cruise missiles hit their intended target, and yet we're seeing reports that that military airbase in Syria continues to be used by Syrian military.


QUESTION: Given that, how can you consider that particular mission a success?

SPICER: Well, because I think from what you're hearing, you're taken two pre-fueled planes and taken -- and -- and taken them off. It's a P.R. stunt.

The bottom line is their fueling capability's been taken out, their radar capability was taken out and over 20 percent of their fixed-wing aircraft from their entire air force was taken out. Their ability to operate successfully out of that airbase is gone.

Like I said, they -- they -- as a P.R. stunt, they took some pre- fueled planes, pushed them over to -- to make it look like nothing is -- but make no mistake about it, their radar capability is gone, their fueling capability is gone and a good chunk of their aircraft is gone. That's a huge success. John Gizzi?

QUESTION: I just want to ask you one other question.


QUESTION: Following up on what Major Garrett asked. Sort of about this -- these reports of a -- a shake up at the White House.

There have been various reports that the deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, is stepping down from that post. She'll take on the post of U.S. ambassador in Singapore. Can you confirm that? And what's behind that particular move, if indeed that's the case?

SPICER: I appreciate -- I -- look, I have said many times before that we're not going to get into personnel announcements until they're ready to announce. I would say that -- two -- two points on that.

One, when General McMaster was announced, it was pretty clear, we said it at the time, you all asked the question whether or not he would have the ability to shape the National Security Council in -- in his liking, with the president's concurrence. I think you've pretty much seen that that's -- that was an accurate statement at the time and it continues to be now.

And General McMaster has the president's confidence to ensure that our National Security Council is shaped in a manner that best serves the president of the United States in every way, shape or form.

Secondly, to -- to your point, I think the staff said it over the weekend, I'll reiterate it, the only thing that's being shaken up in Washington right now is -- or is being shaken up is Washington. I think this president continues to show that he's going to be a disrupter and -- and do things differently and bring real change to Washington.

John Gizzi?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.

Two questions.

First, the previous administration was in touch with the Assad opposition and gathered conclaves of different groups, including the Free Syrian Army. Is this administration in touch with the same anti- Assad forces, political and military?

SPICER: Yeah, I -- I'm not going to go into details on what we're doing and who we're talking to. I think that's -- obviously didn't prove too successful last cycle -- the last administration, in terms of regime change, so I'm going to not get into telegraphing what we're doing and how we're doing it.

QUESTION: On the domestic front, Congressman Ron DeSantis wrote the president just last week to call in very strong language for him, by executive order, to end what he calls the OPM rule of 2013. That was an executive order, of course, that undercut the Affordable Care Act's amendment saying members of Congress and their staff could not get health care and special subsidies, unlike any other American. And he said, "As soon as that is eliminated, Congress will move faster because they and their staff will not have special treatment."

Is the president doing to use his pen and get rid of the OPM order?

SPICER: I'll have to look at that.

I know Secretary Price has been dealing with a lot of -- I know that's an OPM order. Secretary Price has been reviewing all of the necessary implementation documents in order -- with respect to Obamacare. I know that he's working with -- with Director Mulvaney. Director Mulvaney, I anticipate, will be here with you guys at some point, probably tomorrow, to talk about some reorganizing of government. That might be an appropriate time to talk to him specifically about that.


QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.

The list of judges that the president put out last year saying. "These are the people I am considering nominating" that you referred to earlier, in the end, Democrats still tried to filibuster Judge Gorsuch.

SPICER: Right.

QUESTION: So what difference, from that perspective, did the -- putting out that list make in the end?

SPICER: That's a great question.

I think what it showed, first and foremost, that the president kept his word. The president put out a list of people and campaigned on it and said, "If you elect me, these are the type of justices that I will choose from, and they are originalist, they are going to read and interpret the Constitution as it was written and meant to be." And I think the American people in a lot of cases -- if you look at exit polling, voted for him in a lot of cases because of that.

I think it shows that, again, whether or not you disagree or agree with the president sometimes philosophically, he gets high marks for keeping his word. I think that means a lot that he went out on a -- on a number of topics, including the type of justice that he would appoint, put it before the American people, allowed them to vote up or down at the ballot box and it's an affirmation of the kind of justice that he wants.

But it's also a continuation (ph) to know that the president's going to be someone who makes a pledge to the American people and keeps it.

QUESTION: He's going to obviously have other federal judges to nominate...


SPICER: I hope so.

QUESTION: What else did this -- what else did this process teach him? Anything?

SPICER: Well, I -- I think from a political side, it was pretty obvious that you can disagree with Judge Gorsuch's judicial philosophy, but I think by every standard, he was a very highly qualified justice. The American Bar Association rated him their highest. People who have worked for him in the past -- his judicial record in terms of the number of cases where he was in the mainstream and Democratic appointees sided with him. And I think it basically showed the president that trying to work with Senate Democrats wasn't really -- was somewhat of a futile task; that these were people that made up their mind by and large, regardless of who the person was, that "We're going to vote it down."

So that -- that would probably -- the -- the biggest lesson. But it also shows that when you've got the right individual, you've got someone who's eminently qualified, we're going to -- we're going to succeed in getting them done.

Blake (ph)?

QUESTION: Sean, let me turn your attention to tax reform real quick and I've got a few.

There's a report out there that the president has basically gone back to the drawing board as it relates to taxes.


QUESTION: Is that accurate or... SPICER: No.

QUESTION: ... does he still -- what he put out there on the campaign trail, is that still the backbone of what he wants to see get done?

SPICER: Yeah, I mean, that -- that's a backbone, but I think that what you're seeing is us going through this process of his -- his economic team, everyone from Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Ross, to Gary Cohn and others sitting down internally beginning that process of meeting with groups that have been advocating for tax reform since 1986. Kind of the ink on that one dried, and is starting to meet with outside groups, industry groups, individuals, members of Congress to get their input.

This is going to be a major undertaking and I think we want to make sure that we listen, have their ideas and their input as we move forward. But this is the beginning phases of that process.

QUESTION: You mentioned Gary Cohn. He said on Friday that there was -- there's been this August deadline that Steve Mnuchin and others have talked about. And on Friday, Gary Cohn suggested that August might not be the deadline.

Is this timeline getting -- getting pushed at this point?

SPICER: Well, it's not getting pushed, I think it's just getting -- obviously, that still would be a great opportunity before they leave for August recess, but we're going to make sure that we do this right and we do it with the input of all of the individuals, groups and members of Congress that have had a longtime interest in doing this.

And -- and it is a big deal, right? You've got the ability for our businesses and industries to be more competitive in the global market. and then you want to make sure that you're providing middle- income tax relief that creates economic growth throughout the country.

QUESTION: So, Americans are filling out their tax returns right now for 2016. This time next year they're going to fill it out for 2017. Will they have a 2017 tax cut this time next year?

SPICER: I think middle-income Americans I hope have a tax cut by then.

Jeff (ph)?

QUESTION: Sean, during the campaign...

SPICER: Sorry. I know...

QUESTION: You can go next.


SPICER: Careful with that.


QUESTION: ... then-candidate Trump was pretty critical -- or excuse me, was pretty complimentary of President Putin. Now after seeing how Russia's reacted in Syria, what's the view of President Putin now?

SPICER: I think it's always been the same, respectfully, which is that if we can get a deal -- we have a shared interest in -- particularly in the area of ISIS. And if we can defeat them and if we can work with them on a plan to defeat them, then we're going to do it.

But he's also said -- and I think sometimes people cut off part of the quote -- that if we can't work with them, then OK. But the president came into office to really focus on two fronts: keeping our country safe and growing our economy and putting people back to work. And I think if -- if Russia or any other country can help us achieve those two goals, either through market access on additional products and services from the United States into a major marketplace, but more importantly help to keep our country safe through a combined effort to defeat something like ISIS, especially in a place like Syria where they're playing so prominently, then I think we want to work with them.

But if we can't get a deal with them, then, you know, the president's not, you know, going to be disappointed. But he would like to do what he can to work with these individuals to make it happen.


QUESTION: Would you still describe him in the same way that he did several months ago, as a leader who he views is stronger than President Obama?

SPICER: I think we'll -- we'll wait and see. We're 81 days in, and I think Secretary Tillerson will have a lot of information after he meets with Foreign Secretary Lavrov.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one other question on trade?


QUESTION: Did -- you mentioned the 100 days...


QUESTION: ... that the president and president of China agreed on. Did China offer to give U.S. some concessions on beef exports and financial investment as part of that?

SPICER: I think -- yeah.

Look, this -- this is an initial working plan that they're going to try to hammer out what that 100 days looks like, and then they call them like way stations, like what are those stops between 100 days and now that would be things that both sides would be looking at.

I think, obviously, beef exports and additional market access in China, intellectual property, the ability for -- to have foreign ownership, especially in the services industry, is something that has been a big prize of U.S. exporters and industry for a long time.

But it is something that is being hammered out as we go forward. So that's -- the plan was to put together a plan and there's a lot of pieces that both sides would like to see in there, and these -- these benchmarks between now and those 100 days. But that plan is something that they talked about putting together during the -- just, you know, over a day that they met together. And while -- and it is something that the counterparts are now going to continue to flesh out. So there's a lot of topics that got put on the table. We're going to see how that works.


QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.

What is the status of -- and a multi-part question.

What is the status of the renegotiation of NAFTA? And what is the White House doing to tweak -- tweak NAFTA in U.S. interests? And is there concern about getting it done before the Mexican elections heat up at the end of the year? SPICER: The first thing, with respect to trade, is, you know, we need to -- the Senate to approve Robert Lighthizer as the next U.S. trade representative. That's obviously -- USTR drives that and so our focus is getting that done and it'll be ready to go.

We still have an official 90-day notification that we have to give Congress. And so once we get Ambassador Lighthizer confirmed, we'll be ready to probably announce a better work plan on that. But as of right now, that's not there.

Jeff Zelany (ph)?.

QUESTION: Sean, thank you.

In 2013, Mr. Trump, as a private citizen, had a lot to say about Syria. One of the things he said that the president, then-President Obama, needs to seek congressional approval. Some members of Congress believe he should as well.

What is his plan to explain his strategy in a broader sense? And why does he not need congressional approval, in his view?

SPICER: I think Article II of the Constitution is pretty clear that when it's in the national interest of the country, the president has the full authority to act. He did that.


SPICER: He and his team spoke extensively to congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle that night to describe the action that's being taken forward.

So I -- I think we have fully fulfilled every obligation. But the power vested in Article II is very clear with the president's ability to act.

QUESTION: In terms of things happening here at the White House behind the scenes with his staff members, obviously, there were some ideological and policy differences on this particular military action last week. Does the president believe or do you believe that this has been smoothed over in the short term or there has been a long-term solution to the fighting between Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner and others?

SPICER: Are you talking (ph) specifically with Syria or are you talking -- I...

QUESTION: Specifically with Syria there was a disagreement. But is this a -- a short-term fix to this problem? Or do you believe -- does the president believe that there is a longer-term fix to this infighting that has really plagued his administration?

SPICER: Well -- well, again, I -- I'd say a couple things, Jeff (ph).

One is a lot of this is, frankly, overblown. But number two is, the reason the president's brought this team together is offer a diverse set of opinions. I don't -- he doesn't want a monolithical kind of thought process going through the White House. He wants a diverse set of opinions.

That's -- he is the decider. He has people come in and give him a variety of options and plans. He went back and forth over that 72- hour period where he wanted additional options, additional, you know, explanations, and questions answered. That's how he's going to deal.

And -- and, so, whether it's this, health care, tax reform, trade, he's got a divergent set of opinions (inaudible) here of experts. The idea isn't to have one set of thought and policy flowing through there. It's to give the president the best advice possible, but that once the president makes a decision, that the team is on board 100 percent, to make sure that we do what's in the best interest of the country and fulfill the agenda that he's laid out.

So, I -- I don't -- I think you're -- I -- I think the president wants to have a -- a series of ideas and -- and thoughts put forward to him. That's how he's going to make the best opinion or best decision possible for this country.

QUESTION: But it must have crossed a line if he said to work it out.

SPICER: Well, I think sometimes -- again, I'm not going to get into what happens internally. But I -- I think sometimes some things might spill out into public more than other things.

But there's always going to be a healthy debate internally on a variety of policy issues among the Cabinet, among the staff, to make sure that the president sees every option that's available, every opinion that he should weigh and counter before he makes a final decision.

Sometimes I think -- sometimes those -- those discussions may make them out a little bit more publicly than they do. But I think, you know, as I noted at the beginning, I thought there was a lot of overblown coverage of how it actually happened and what went down.



QUESTION: ... sticking with Steve Bannon...

SPICER: He -- he is very confident in the team that he has that they have -- a -- a -- an unbelievable amount of knowledge. And -- and he -- he enjoys the counsel that they all bring to the table.


SPICER: Thank you guys very much. I'll see you tomorrow.

[14:22:53] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we got the last question in, Jeff Zeleny there from CNN asking about what we've been reporting on some of the back and forth, the infighting, the battling between folks like Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. So there's much, much more to go through from that White House daily briefing.

But let's pause. You've been watching this box in the bottom of your screen. This breaking news. The shooting at a California school. Brynn Gingras is working this one for us.

Brynn, what's happened?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we're getting information from the San Bernardino Police chief, at this point, who is actually tweeting out details as we're going along.

We know that this happened about an hour ago local time in California. And we know it happened at the North Park Elementary School. It was a shooting. And the chief believes it was a murder/suicide incident. Again, happening in a school room of that elementary school - or a classroom, rather, of that elementary school. Four people injured, two of which are students who went to the hospital with some sort of injuries.

We also know, just looking at that school's website, about 522 students go there and the remainder of those students are now being transported to a local high school just for safety concerns.

So right now we're just still getting information but we do know that it is a hectic scene, as you can see with those students lining up there in San Bernardino. Four people injured in what is believed to be a murder-suicide. The chief also saying that it's possible the person who caused all of this is down at this point, but that was just a possibility that he tweeted that it's not confirmed. But, of course, we'll stay on top of this for you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I know you will. Brynn, thank you so much.

And just, of course, our thoughts with the community there in San Bernardino. It's the last thing they ever - anyone would ever have wanted, especially given what happened there, what was that, just two years ago.

Brynn, thank you so much.

I've got a lot of - I've got a lot of very smart people standing by now to go through that about a half an hour White House daily brief there.

So, Chris Cillizza, you're up to bat first. Let me go to you here and, if I may, let's just begin with really the crux of the briefing, we go back and forth on Syria and, of course, the White House's decision to go in a couple of days ago. But the questions continued to pepper Sean Spicer as far as the future of Bashar al Assad. Did you hear a definitive answer? [14:25:07] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & EDITOR-AT-LARGE:

No, and I don't - I think the answer to that, Brooke, is because there isn't one. They don't have one. And one may not exist. This is a complex situation. This is not Donald Trump.


CILLIZZA: This is - Barack Obama struggled with the same thing.


CILLIZZA: Sean Spicer essentially said, well, you know, regime change, we're not going to do that, but Syria can't be a safe and peaceful place with Bashar al Assad. He's come from inside. I think he's covering his bases at some level because no decision has been made. I think that's why you see Rex Tillerson, despite Sean's efforts to say they were singing off the same songbook, what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, which is our - our policies as it relate to Syria are unchanged despite the strikes last week. And what U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said, which suggested an endorsement or something close to it of regime change, those are not the same thing.

I think you're seeing a debate back and forth within the administration about it and I would note that there's a poll out today that suggests while a minority 57 percent of people supported that strike, no more than 30 percent support any of the other possible options, whether that's diplomacy, whether that's troops on the ground, whether it's airstrikes, no troops. So what's next is a lot harder than what happened last week.

BALDWIN: And I think Michael O'Hanlon, you know, continuing the conversation here, and Chris is exactly right, in the quote that I jotted down from Sean Spicer, "I can't imagine a stable Syria with Assad in power." Well, in terms of the what's next and we obviously don't have the answers and the question about the Trump doctrine and we don't know maybe what the Trump doctrine is, but what do you do other than, as he kept saying, fight ISIS and then have some sort of environment in Syria to which it's up to the people perhaps to oust Assad politically. I mean how do you see that?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FOREIGN POLICY FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, thanks, Brooke. First of all, there is no Trump doctrine yet. And we're all getting a little bit excited here in Washington about this. I think it was a good strike as far as it went, but it was evocative of what Bill Clinton did several times with cruise missiles against Saddam Hussein or against al Qaeda in the 1990s. There's nothing particularly new here. And, more importantly, there's nothing particularly militarily effective here. So I think the hard questions, as Chris was just saying, still lie ahead.

I happen to think the only way you sort of square the circle that Assad must go and yet Assad is sort of here to stay for a while. That's a paradox. The only way I can see out of that in the short term is the creation of autonomous regions in parts of Syria that are primarily Sunni or Kurd. And there are a lot of things we can do to try to develop that idea, even tolerate Assad being the nominal president a while longer if you can get to that safe haven concept.

But it goes beyond safe havens, as Trump's talked about it. It requires the creation of something like Iraqi Kurdistan in several places. That's the only way out that I can see. That's a pretty complicated idea. And it's not just going to happen because we say so. It's going to require a lot of consultation with regional allies and some various military and economic steps on the ground. So there's no way there could be a Trump strategy for Syria yet and there certainly is no global Trump doctrine rite large.

BALDWIN: Here's the question, though. Let's just replay the moment in the briefing where he was asked, what is the Trump doctrine? Here's Sean Spicer's response.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Trump doctrine is something that he articulated throughout the campaign, which is that America's first. We're going to make sure our national interests are protected, that we do what we can to make sure that our interests, both economically and national security, are at the forefront and we're not just going to become the world's policemen running around the country - running around the world. But we have to have a clear and defined national interest wherever we act and that it's our national security first and foremost that has to deal with how we act.

QUESTION: And Syria fits in that doctrine?

SPICER: Absolutely. I think if you recognize the threat that our country and our people face, it there is a growth of use or spread of chemical weapons of mass destruction, those - the proliferation of those, the spread to other groups is a clear danger to our country and to our people.


BALDWIN: So, Nia-Malika Henderson, the question is, in terms of the what's next and how one forms a doctrine or an opinion, who is advising him? Who is in his ear helping him formulate the proper next step?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think it's all the people in the White House, some of whom are feuding. People like Steve Bannon, people like Jared Kushner, who in some ways seems to be the secretary of everything. Tillerson is obviously there. H.R. McMaster as well. So those are the people.

[14:29:33] I mean we saw that photo, right, where they were deliberating this. And some of those people were people in that room and I guess weighing in on this decision. But it's awfully complicated the sort of what's next question. It's a question that this White House is going to get time and time again. I think Spicer was pretty deft in terms of framing the Syria strike, in terms of the America first doctrine. I think a lot of former Trump allies at this point aren't necessarily his allies on this because they feel like this is sort of a military adventurism. Something they didn't like from other Republicans. Libertarians like Rand Paul certainly not pleased with this.