Trump Blames Obama for Suspected Chemical Attack in Syria

The president has a long history of attacking his predecessor’s actions in the country.

John Angelillo/Zumapress

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

On Sunday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to condemn the suspected chemical attack that killed at least 42 people in the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday night. 

More than 500 people, including many children, have been brought to area hospitals with symptoms consistent with exposure to some kind of poison gas, including “signs of respiratory distress, central cyanosis, excessive oral foaming, corneal burns, and the emission of chlorine-like odor,” noted a joint statement from the opposition-linked Syrian Civil Defense and the Syrian American Medical Society.  

The Syrian and Russian governments have denied the allegation that a chemical agent was used. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s administration called the allegation “fabrications” of the opposition. 

But Trump took to Twitter to condemn the “mindless CHEMICAL attack,” blaming Russia and its president Vladimir Putin and also his predecessor, President Barack Obama:

Trump was referring to Obama’s decision to respond to previous chemical weapons attacks in Syria, something Obama called a “red line,” with negotiation, after threatening but never undertaking military action against Assad’s regime. Trump has touted his opposition to Obama’s “red line” decision since the 2016 campaign trail, when he tried to pin the lack of military action on candidate Hillary Clinton, although she was not serving as Secretary of State at the time. In his 2016 Republican national convention speech, Trump called Obama’s decision not to strike Syria a “humiliation.” 

But in a number of tweets from 2013 and 2014, Trump himself strongly opposed retaliating with military action against Syria:

Trump’s tweets this weekend also seem to complicate the less aggressive stance on Syria that the president himself has taken in recent weeks: although he ordered a strike on Syria following a chemical attack last year, just last week Trump vowed that an exit for US troops from Syria is imminent. On Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” White House Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert said that military action in response to this weekend’s attack was not “off the table.”

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate