Wednesday 17 January 2018

We won't let Putin bully US: Trump Jr

Syria bombing showed president will not bow to Kremlin, says son

Boris Johnson. Photo: Reuters
Boris Johnson. Photo: Reuters

Simon Johnson and Gordon Rayner

Donald Trump's decision to launch a cruise missile attack on Syria proved that he is not in league with Russia and will not be "pushed around" by Vladimir Putin, the US president's son has said.

Eric Trump said his father was not intimidated by the Russian president's talk of war, and there would be "no one harder" than Mr Trump if they "cross us".

He also confirmed that Mr Trump's decision to bomb a Syrian airbase to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a nerve gas attack last week was influenced by the reaction of his sister Ivanka, who said she was "heartbroken and outraged" by the atrocity.

It came as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Russia would face fresh sanctions if it did not pull its armed forces out of Syria and end its support for Mr Assad.

As foreign ministers of the G7 group of nations met in Italy to agree the best way to put pressure on Mr Putin, Mr Johnson said the US missile strike had "changed the game" and Russia now "needs a way out" because association with Mr Assad's "toxic regime is . . . poisoning the reputation of Russia".

In a significant hardening of American policy, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is understood to have told Mr Johnson that America now backs regime change in Syria. On Sunday, he had refused to call directly for Mr Assad to go.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, last night said Mr Trump was open to authorising additional strikes on Syria. "If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb in to innocent people, I think you will see a response from this president. That is unacceptable," he said.

Eric Trump (33), the president's second son, who has taken over the running of his father's property empire with his brother Donald Jr, warned Mr Putin his father was "deeply committed" to building what could be the world's largest ever peace-time military force as he is a "big believer" in Ronald Reagan's philosophy of achieving peace through strength. President Trump pledged to improve relations with Mr Putin during his election campaign but his new administration has been plagued with allegations of close entanglements with Russian officials.

Eric Trump said his father was merely arguing that the US should try to be "best friends with other superpowers" if that was possible and described allegations of links with the Russian regime as "ridiculous".

He said: "If there was anything that Syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie."

He said: "If they disrespect us and if they cross us, fine. There will be no one harder - he has got more backbone than anybody. We're no worse off than we were before. Maybe we're finding that we can't be."

Asked about Mr Putin's threats of military escalation over Syria, he said of his father: "He is not a guy who gets intimidated. I can tell you he is tough and he won't be pushed around. The cards will shake out the way they do, but he's tough."

He said his father was "deeply affected" by TV images in the aftermath of the Syrian chemical attack of children being "sprayed down by hoses to keep their skin from burning".

Mr Trump, whose wife is pregnant with their first child, said: "It was horrible. These guys are savages and I'm glad he responded the way he responded."

He added: "Ivanka is a mother of three kids and she has influence. 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. 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."

Mr Trump rejected claims his father had acted impulsively after seeing the images, saying the president was "a great thinker, practical not impulsive". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News