Trump warns Putin and clears up his administration's message on Syria

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President Donald Trump attempted to clear up his administration's message on next-steps for Syria after launching a missile strike against an airbase in the country last week.

"We're not going into Syria," Trump said in an interview with Fox Business airing Wednesday. Trump leaned in on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, calling him an "animal," before turning to Assad ally Russia, saying President Vladimir Putin "is backing a person that's truly an evil person."

See more on the U.S. strikes in Syria:

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Criticism, praise emerges after Trump' Syria missile strike
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Criticism, praise emerges after Trump' Syria missile strike
While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked.
The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution.
Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different.
In statement, @TulsiGabbard condemns Trump's military action in #Syria, says he 'acted recklessly.' #HINews https://t.co/ciJjOaRYQe
Pelosi calls U.S. Airstrikes in Syria a "proportional response" https://t.co/D6tUuVKPwE
Senator Rubio releases statement after U.S. conducted air strikes against Assad regime in Syria… https://t.co/KhhOQUoE2Q
Trump sent US ground troops to Syria last month purportedly to fight ISIS. Now our troops are at risk of being attacked by #Assad forces.
Watched @POTUS remarks. Congress authorized @POTUS to use force on terrorists. We NEVER authorized force to enforce chemical weapons treaty.
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The comments were some of the most definitive declarations Trump has made in the days since he ordered the US Navy to drop 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on Syria's Shayrat airbase, but his words follow a number of mixed messages from within his administration on the Syrian regime and on Russia:

  • White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday that the US would not become "the world's policeman," but said later about Syria's chemical weapons use, "if we see this kind of action again, we hold open the possibility of future action." He later walked back the claim in a statement to Business Insider.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the White House was against "violent change at the top" in Syria
  • US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said "we don't see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there."
  • And Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis asserted the situation in Syria would "not spiral out of control."

During Trump's Fox Business interview Wednesday, Trump appeared resolute, saying Putin's loyalty to Assad is "very bad for Russia ... very bad for mankind ... very bad for the world."

Turning back to Assad, Trump said: "when you drop gas, or bombs, or barrel bombs ... drop them right in the middle of a group of people. This is an animal."

It is unclear how the Trump administration's official posture toward Syria and Russia will evolve, but members of Congress have urged the White House to make it clear.

See more on the U.S. strikes in Syria:

17 PHOTOS
US airstrikes in Syria -- launches and impact
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US airstrikes in Syria -- launches and impact

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile in Mediterranean Sea on April 7, 2017.

(Robert S. Price/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

Battle damage assessment image of Shayrat Airfield, Syria, is seen in this DigitalGlobe satellite image, released by the Pentagon following U.S. Tomahawk Land Attack Missile strikes from Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter on April 7, 2017.

(DigitalGlobe/Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense/Handout via REUTERS)

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile in Mediterranean Sea on April 7, 2017.

(Robert S. Price/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

Shayrat Airfield in Homs, Syria is seen in this DigitalGlobe satellite image released by the U.S. Defense Department on April 6, 2017 after announcing U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against the Syrian Air Force airfield. DigitalGlobe/Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. MANDATORY CREDIT.

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile in Mediterranean Sea on April 7, 2017.

(Robert S. Price/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile in Mediterranean Sea on April 7, 2017.

(Robert S. Price/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

Shayrat Airfield in Homs, Syria is seen in this DigitalGlobe satellite image on February 18, 2017 and released by the U.S. Defense Department on April 6, 2017 after announcing U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against the Syrian Air Force airfield. 

(DigitalGlobe/Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense/Handout via REUTERS)

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017.

(Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/Released)

Battle damage assessment image of Shayrat Airfield, Syria, is seen in this DigitalGlobe satellite image, released by the Pentagon following U.S. Tomahawk Land Attack Missile strikes from Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter on April 7, 2017. 

(DigitalGlobe/Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense/Handout via REUTERS)

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017.

(Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTER)

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017.

(Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

Battle damage assessment image of Shayrat Airfield, Syria, is seen in this DigitalGlobe satellite image, released by the Pentagon following U.S. Tomahawk Land Attack Missile strikes from Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter on April 7, 2017. 

(DigitalGlobe/Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense/Handout via REUTERS)

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017.

(Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

Syrian shepherds tend their flock near the damaged Shayrat ('ash-Shairat') airfield at the Syrian government forces military base targeted earlier overnight by US Tomahawk cruise missiles, southeast of the central and third largest Syrian city of Homs, on April 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on April 7, 2017 shows a view of the damaged Shayrat ('ash-Shairat') airfield at the Syrian government forces military base targeted earlier overnight by US Tomahawk cruise missiles, southeast of the central and third largest Syrian city of Homs. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Friday that the Trump administration should identify its objectives for "dealing with the Assad regime in a manner that preserves the institutions of government." Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said Assad needs to be reminded that he will "pay a price" for committing "despicable atrocities."

Watch a preview of the interview here.

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