President Donald Trump announced that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping about his decision to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syria government air base over dessert at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Florida, resort he owns.
During an interview with anchor Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria that aired Wednesday, the business mogul discussed the setting in which he shared the news with the foreign leaders as well as President Xi’s reaction.
“We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert, and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it,” Trump, 70, said. “I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded. What do you do? And we made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way.”
Trump said he then explained the situation to President Xi, as he did not want the foreign leader to hear about the launch from someone else.
“I said, ‘We’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq,’ ” Trump said, before Bartiromo corrected him to say the attack was on Syria. ” ‘Heading towards Syria. I want you to know that.’ ”
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Trump said that he was not sure how the foreign leader felt about the news at first.
“He paused for 10 seconds, then he asked the interpreter to please say it again. I didn’t think that was a good sign,” he recalled. “He said to me, ‘Anybody that uses gases’ — you could almost say or anything else — but ‘anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that to young children and babies, it’s okay.’ He was okay with it.”
On Thursday night, U.S. warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian government air base, marking the first time the nation has directly attacked Assad’s regime in Syria’s six-year civil war, according to CNN. Trump did so without direct authorization of Congress.
Before the missile salvo, Hillary Clinton expressed her support for such a move, saying at a New York event on Thursday that the nation should “take out [Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s] air fields” so he can’t “use them to bomb innocent people,” CNN reports.