A stroll around the White House grounds with his top adviser on Friday evening changed President Barack Obama’s mind about getting Congress to sign off on a military strike in Syria, senior White House officials told NBC News.
Obama had been leaning toward attacking Syria without a congressional vote for the past week, the officials said. Obama was convinced he had the evidence to back up a strike and as a result dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry to make a passionate case for U.S. action. But only hours after Kerry called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “a thug and a murderer” and accused his regime of using chemical weapons to kill 1,429 people, Obama changed his mind as he walked across the South Lawn with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, the officials said.
Returning from that walk, the president called his advisers in the early evening to inform them of his new decision.