The White House on Tuesday accused Russia of a "coverup" of Syria's chemical attack on its own citizens, but stopped short of saying that the Kremlin knew in advance of last Tuesday's poison-gas attack that killed dozens of Syrian villagers.
Russia has consistently denied that the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad dropped a bomb containing sarin, a banned nerve agent. President Trump responded on Thursday by approving a missile strike on a Syrian air base used to launch the chemical attack.
The North has long claimed the U.S. is preparing some kind of assault against it and justifies its nuclear weapons as defensive in nature. (Sign up for our free video newsletter here http://bit.ly/2n6VKPR)
President Donald Trump escalated his rhetoric against North Korea on Tuesday, writing on Twitter that the country "is looking for trouble" and encouraging North Korea's neighbor China to "solve the problem."
Trump signed the message: "U.S.A."
In a second message, Trump said he told China's President Xi Jinping during his visit to Florida last week that China would get a better trade deal with the U.S. if Xi helped reign in North Korea's missile program, apparently linking China's cooperation on security issues with its economic actions.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, opening an emergency meeting with key allies on the crisis in Syria and hours ahead of his arrival in Moscow, said Tuesday that Russia bore responsibility for chemical attacks by Syrian President Bashar Assad on civilians in that war-ravaged country.
Tillerson was speaking at the end of a two-day summit of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations in Lucca, Italy. They were joined Tuesday by representatives of several Arab countries who oppose Assad’s regime.
“Stockpiles and continued use demonstrate that Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on its 2013 commitment” to remove chemical weapons from Syria under a U.N.-brokered deal, Tillerson said.
President Trump has signed off on the departure of a top White House national security official, part of a slow-rolling shake-up that consolidates the influence of Trump's new national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, said a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss her departure.
K.T. McFarland, the principal deputy national security advisor, is expected to leave the White House in the next few weeks once Trump formally nominates her to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
McFarland was an early supporter of Trump during the campaign and advocated inside the White House for a military buildup and a muscular U.S. presence overseas. She had previously served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations and was a Fox News contributor.
Neil M. Gorsuch joins the Supreme Court just in time to cast potentially significant votes in cases that pit religious liberty against gay rights, test limits on funding for church schools and challenge California’s restrictions on carrying a concealed gun in public.
Such issues arise either in appeals filed by conservative groups that have been pending before the justices for weeks or in cases to be heard later this month.
In those matters, the votes of Gorsuch -- who took the first of two oaths Monday morning, in a private swearing-in -- may give an early sign of whether the court’s conservatives, with their 5-4 majority restored by his confirmation, will pursue an activist agenda.