On Friday night, less than a week after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s suspected poison gas attack took dozens of lives in Douma, the U.S. — along with British and French allies — launched a missile strike against the country’s chemical weapons facilities. While Trump tweeted that the retaliation efforts were "perfectly executed," the Twitter account for the Syrian presidency wrote, "Honorable souls cannot be humiliated." And a day after the air strike, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared a misleading Syria tweet that had a lot of users scratching their heads.
Sanders posted a photo Saturday evening of Trump and his staff getting briefed on Syria, writing, "Last night the President put our adversaries on notice: when he draws a red line he enforces it. (Inside the Situation Room as President is briefed on Syria - Official WH photos by Shealah Craighead)."
Last night the President put our adversaries on notice: when he draws a red line he enforces it. (Inside the Situation Room as President is briefed on Syria - Official WH photos by Shealah Craighead) pic.twitter.com/GzOSejdqQh— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) April 15, 2018
But her post puzzled people. According to Politico, White House reporters pointed out that Mike Pence (pictured to the right of Trump) could not have been at a briefing during the air strike, as he was in Peru for the Summit of the Americas at that time.
Kelly O’Donnell, a White House correspondent for NBC News, tweeted about this misleading Syria tweet Sunday morning. She noted that the photo probably wasn’t taken on the night of the air strike since Sanders "appeared to be wearing this striped blouse at Wednesday's briefing." O'Donnell also noted that other than Pence, Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (who is also in the photo), was away from D.C. Friday night.
Friday night @VP was off to Peru. @nikkihaley was in NY for UN. @PressSec appeared to be wearing this striped blouse at Wednesday's briefing so this behind the scenes photo in Situation Room likely not taken "last night" as tweet suggests but earlier in week https://t.co/RckDaLvOsF— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) April 15, 2018
Phillip Rucker, the Washington Post White House bureau chief, also wrote that the photo couldn’t have been from Friday night:
This is a photo from a briefing earlier in the week because Pence was in Peru on Friday when Trump ordered the strikes in Syria https://t.co/awydM174Lz— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) April 15, 2018
The former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, responded to Sanders’ misleading Syria tweet as well, writing, "Fascinating tweet in which Sarah Sanders reveals that Mike Pence was simultaneously in Peru and Washington. If this new capability doesn’t scare our enemies, nothing will." He added the hashtag, "#QuantumEntanglementMike."
Sanders responds to misleading Syria tweet
On Sunday morning, Sanders clarified that the photo was taken Thursday in the Situation Room, not Friday night:
As I said, the President put our adversaries on notice that he enforces red lines with the strike on Syria Friday night. The photo was taken Thursday in the Situation Room during Syria briefing.— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) April 15, 2018
"It’s from [a] Thursday meeting when he was briefed on Syria," she told Politico in an email statement. "So no, not misleading at all."