Politics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will recommend on Aug. 24 whether to eliminate or shrink nearly two dozen national monuments, creating the first major test for a 111-year-old law that gives presidents the power to protect swaths of public land. Zinke is expected to recommend that at least some of the national monuments under review – which were all created since 1996 – be rescinded or shrunk in size, responding to an order by President Donald Trump, who believes there should be greater opportunity to increase local resource development and economic opportunities. Any recommendation of reductions could herald a move into unchartered territory. Under the Antiquities Act, a president can declare certain areas of historic or scientific interest a national monument. However, no president has ever revoked a previous designation. Previous presidents, including Woodrow Wilson and William Howard Taft did reduce the size of some existing monuments. But this time, environmental groups …

Idrees Ali 6 Min Read WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis travels to the Middle East and eastern Europe next week to play the increasingly familiar role of reassuring allies that the United States is committed to them despite mixed messages from President Donald Trump. Mattis will visit Jordan, Turkey, and Ukraine to address concerns about the fight against Islamic State and give a message that Washington will not tolerate Russia’s annexation of eastern Ukraine. The informal portfolio of soothing traditional U.S. friends upset by Trump’s often sharp comments and tweets on foreign policy is one that the retired Marine general is becoming used to. “There is no-one in the administration, maybe with the exception of Vice President Mike Pence, that has to shoulder the responsibility of Trump’s rhetoric more than Mattis,” said Joshua Walker, a former U.S. diplomat and current fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a think tank. …

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Urged by his Yale University classmates to resign as treasury secretary following President Donald Trump’s response to a white nationalist protest, Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday he would stay in office and that Trump “in no way, shape or form” equates neo-Nazis with peaceful protesters. Mnuchin, along with other members of the cabinet, stood beside the president at a Tuesday news conference as Trump blamed violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend on not just white nationalist rally organizers but also counter-protesters, and said there were “very fine people” among both groups. A letter, dated Aug. 18 and signed by more than 350 members of the Yale class of 1985, argued it was Mnuchin’s “moral obligation to resign” immediately because, it said, Trump had “declared himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as Americans.” “We know you are better than this, …

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s firing has been met with a collective shrug by some of President Donald Trump’s most committed supporters who argue the controversial nationalist became an obstacle to the administration’s agenda. In interviews in multiple cities this weekend, Americans who voted for Trump said Bannon’s departure on Friday was the removal of an unnecessary distraction for the Trump presidency, while others saw his role as largely inconsequential and possibly overblown. Many expected Trump to stay the course without him. “Bannon was becoming too big of a story and taking the spotlight from President Trump,” Bob Janda, a 67-year-old small business owner, said in a bar in Chicago. “When that happens, your days are numbered. I think Trump will be fine.” At the same bar, Frank Cardone, 67, pointed out that Bannon had a brief tenure in Trump’s inner circle, having joined the Republican businessman’s presidential campaign as …

WASHINGTON/BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s ouster of chief strategist Steve Bannon is unlikely to mark the abandonment of the administration’s “America First” agenda that has unnerved investors and trade partners and split the White House into nationalist and globalist camps. Within hours of leaving Trump’s administration on Friday, Bannon was back at the helm of Breitbart News, the hard-right news site he ran before becoming the main architect of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Bannon can now do more to further conservative causes because “he can speak his mind” without the constraints of working in the White House, Rick Weatherly, 61, a maintenance technician from the Denver suburb of Lakewood, said on Saturday. Trump appeared to agree, tweeting: “Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews … maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!” Bannon, 63, was instrumental in some of Trump’s most contentious policies including …

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the Kennedy Center Honors in December, the White House announced on Saturday, after several honorees said they would boycott a White House reception before the show. The Kennedy Center also said in a statement the White House reception “will no longer take place.” The White House said the president and first lady would not take part in the Kennedy Center Honors “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.” The announcement came after television producer Norman Lear, singer Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade said they would not attend the White House reception that was set to take place prior to the Dec. 3 annual gala event. The other honorees are singer Gloria Estefan and rapper LL Cool J. The awards are presented each year in December to recognize honorees for their lifetime contributions to the arts. …

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The departure on Friday of Steve Bannon, the White House’s top economic nationalist, will likely tip the trade policy scales in favor of the Trump administration’s “globalist” faction, which could soften the stance toward two of Trump’s favorite targets: China and the North American Free Trade Agreement. But after news that Trump had fired Bannon from his post as chief strategist, trade experts said it may take some time for National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to start winning more debates on trade policy. Bannon and White House Trade and Manufacturing Office director Peter Navarro were often allied in taking hardline anti-China stances over currency manipulation, steel tariffs and other trade issues, often opposed to Cohn, Mnuchin and Perdue, according to lobbyists who been involved in the debates. The Cohn-led group proved more influential in the administration’s decisions in April not to label …

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told staff in an email – seen by Reuters on Friday – that everyone must stand up and condemn hate, as President Donald Trump faces a backlash for his response to violence at a protest by white nationalists. Trump blamed both sides for clashes in the southern college town of Charlottesville in Virginia last weekend, where white nationalists were protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. A woman was killed when a suspected white nationalist plowed his car into a crowd. “Those who march spewing hate are few, but loud. We must denounce them at every turn, and make them feel like they are on an island and isolate them the same way they wish to isolate others,” wrote Haley, a member of Trump’s cabinet, in the email sent Thursday to staff at the U.S. mission to the United …

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With Stephen Bannon, the worry always was that he could be even more disruptive to President Donald Trump’s White House from outside than he was within. In the hours following his firing on Friday, those fears seemed warranted, as the conservative voices who viewed Bannon as one of their own howled in rage over Trump’s decision to fire his chief strategist. The reaction was most notable from Breitbart News, the hard-right news site that Bannon ran before he joined Trump’s presidential campaign last year. “WAR,” tweeted one of the site’s editors, Joel Pollak, who published a piece questioning whether Trump would now move in a more moderate direction with Bannon out of the White House. “Steve Bannon personified the Trump agenda,” Pollak wrote. Bannon rejoined Breitbart as executive chairman only hours after his firing was announced. He is now expected to use it as a platform to blast those within the White …

(Reuters) – Billionaire investor Carl Icahn on Friday ended his role as a special adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump after facing criticism that his recommendations on policy could help his own investments. Some Democratic lawmakers and biofuels advocates have argued that Icahn’s policy recommendations to the Republican administration create a conflict of interest with his businesses, including oil refining company CVR Energy Inc (CVI.N). Icahn has denied any conflict of interest. “I chose to end this arrangement (with your blessing) because I did not want partisan bickering about my role to in any way cloud your administration,” Icahn wrote in a letter to Trump released on his website. Icahn’s departure comes after a flurry of changes at the White House. Trump on Friday fired his chief strategist Stephen Bannon, two days after disbanding two high-profile business advisory groups. Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler

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