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Sarah Sanders says no decisions have been made yet on Syria

Last Updated Apr 11, 2018 6:05 PM EDT

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders briefed reporters Wednesday, as the world awaits a U.S. response to the chemical attack in Syria, and for the first time since Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced earlier Wednesday he will not be running for reelection.

Mr. Trump on Tuesday morning seemed to indicate that missiles "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart,'" warning Russia not to interfere. 

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Wednesday said the U.S. is standing by, ready for military action if or when directed.

"We stand ready to provide military options if they are appropriate as the president determines," Mattis said. 

But Sanders said no decision has been made yet on Syria. She also told reporters that "the president holds Syria and Russia responsible for this chemical weapons attack."

"It sounds like all options are on the table and a final decision hasn't been made," Sanders said.  

Sanders said the president "has not laid out a timetable," asked about previous comments Mr. Trump made years ago criticizing former President Barack Obama for talking about his military intentions in Syria publicly.

But despite Mr. Trump's tweets critical of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, in light of the Syria attack, Sanders treaded lightly around the question of whether Mr. Trump now views Russia as an enemy.

"That's something that Russia needs to play a role in determining," Sanders said.

Sanders was also asked about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and whether the president thinks it has strayed outside the original mandate.

"The president certainly has been clear that he has very deep concern about the direction the special counsel and other investigations have taken," she told reporters. "This investigation started off as Russia collusion, of which there was none." 

Mr. Trump hasn't ruled out firing special counsel Robert Mueller, and Sanders suggested Tuesday the president believes doing so is within his power. Federal investigators' raid of the home and office of Mr. Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, intensified questions about a possible Mueller firing, and Mr. Trump has done little to quash such speculation.