President Donald Trump was reportedly moved to launch a missile strike in Syria last week by his eldest daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, who was “heartbroken” by images of Syrian children killed in a chemical attack President Bashar al-Assad is believed to have carried out against his own people.
“Ivanka is a mother of three kids and she has influence,” the President’s son, Eric, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph. “I’m sure she said ‘listen, this is horrible stuff.’ My father will act in times like that.”
“And by the way, he was anti doing anything with Syria two years ago,” Eric Trump continued. “Then a leader gasses their own people, women and children, at some point America is the global leader and the world’s superpower has to come forward and act and they did with a lot of support of our allies and I think that’s a great thing.”
Last week was far from the first time the Syrian government had attacked its civilians. After an August 2013 sarin gas attack attributed to Assad’s military killed some 1,400, including many children, in the Damascus suburbs, Trump urged former President Barack Obama not to take military action against Syria.
“There is no upside and tremendous downside,” Trump said on Twitter at the time.
He maintained this opposition to a military response until ordering the strikes Thursday. Though some of his anti-interventionist supporters were outraged by this about-face, the White House and the President’s family deny it was an impulsive decision driven by the images he described of “beautiful babies” suffering from the gas attack.
Eric Trump told the Daily Telegraph that his father was a “great thinker, practical not impulsive,” and added, “Believe me he thinks things through.”
Asked about Eric Trump’s comments during Tuesday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied that Ivanka Trump had unique influence in prompting the strike.
“There is no question that Ivanka and others weighed in to him,” Spicer said, noting that both she and her father were “very moved” by photographs of the victims of the chemical attack.
Pressed by MSNBC’s Kristen Welker on whether Ivanka Trump supported military action, Spicer said he hadn’t asked her but doesn’t “think Ivanka stands any different than anyone else when it comes to the response that we got.”
The air strike is already having long-reaching foreign policy implications. Russia, one of the most prominent supporters of Assad’s government, said the strike was a “significant blow” to U.S. relations with the Kremlin.
According to Eric Trump, this response undermined “ridiculous” allegations of links between Trump campaign staffers and Russian officials, which the FBI and Congress are investigating.
“If there was anything that Syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie,” he said.