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Trump’s Revolving Door: Haley Latest Senior White House Departure

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, a highly visible face of Donald Trump’s administration on the world stage, is the latest top official to exit the president’s inner circle.

Dozens of White House aides – from press secretary Sean Spicer to chief of staff Reince Priebus to counsel Don McGahn – have either left or been sacked from their posts since Trump took office on January 20, 2017.

Here is a sampling of senior departures:

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

Haley was a shining star of the administration from the start. Thrust onto the international stage, she quickly became an astute advocate for Trump’s foreign policy, using forceful language against North Korea, Syria and Iran.

The former South Carolina governor was also unafraid to speak her mind, often in fairly undiplomatic language, and built a reputation for standing up to Trump when she felt it was warranted.

Her aggressive criticism of Russia won plaudits, even as she stepped beyond the position held by the White House.

Her Tuesday announcement dramatically boosted speculation about her political future. But she quickly denied any plans to challenge her boss in 2020, instead saying it was “time to stand aside” and that she would remain loyal to Trump.

Environment chief Scott Pruitt

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt’s tenure was beset by scandal, and Trump pushed him out in July.

A former Oklahoma attorney general with ties to fossil fuel industries, Pruitt was accused of using his position to enrich his own family’s lifestyle in violation of federal law.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson was fired by Trump in March, ending a rocky tenure for the former Exxon chief executive as the nation’s top diplomat.

Tillerson was frequently at odds with the mercurial president and Trump said that while the pair got along well, they “disagreed on things” – notably the Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew in May.

During his brief stay at Foggy Bottom, Tillerson frequently found himself out of the loop and caught unawares by policy shifts announced in Trump tweets.

Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

The architect of Trump’s nationalist-populist campaign and his election victory, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was nicknamed the Prince of Darkness and the Shadow President.

His economic nationalism became the lynchpin of Trump policies, even as many of Bannon’s other ideas were rebuffed by policy rivals.

Bannon’s constant clashes with other advisors became untenable, as did his ties to the extreme right, which drew accusations that Trump fostered racists. Bannon left in August 2017.

Top Economic Advisor Gary Cohn  

Gary Cohn, a former president of investment bank Goldman Sachs, resigned as Trump’s top economic advisor on March 6, 2018 in protest against the president’s decision to levy new global trade tariffs.

A long-time Democrat, Cohn had always been an uneasy fit in an administration propelled to power by strident nationalism.

National Security Advisors Flynn, McMaster 

Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, was being investigated for his contacts with Russians and eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

He lasted only 22 days as national security advisor, ousted amid concerns he could be compromised by false statements he made over his contacts with Russian officials.

Flynn’s replacement HR McMaster, also a lieutenant general, lasted barely a year. He never really clicked with the president, who bristled at McMaster echoing the US intelligence establishment consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

 

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Trump’s Revolving Door: Haley Latest Senior White House Departure

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, a highly visible face of Donald Trump’s administration on the world stage, is the latest top official to exit the president’s inner circle.

Dozens of White House aides – from press secretary Sean Spicer to chief of staff Reince Priebus to counsel Don McGahn – have either left or been sacked from their posts since Trump took office on January 20, 2017.

Here is a sampling of senior departures:

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

Haley was a shining star of the administration from the start. Thrust onto the international stage, she quickly became an astute advocate for Trump’s foreign policy, using forceful language against North Korea, Syria and Iran.

The former South Carolina governor was also unafraid to speak her mind, often in fairly undiplomatic language, and built a reputation for standing up to Trump when she felt it was warranted.

Her aggressive criticism of Russia won plaudits, even as she stepped beyond the position held by the White House.

Her Tuesday announcement dramatically boosted speculation about her political future. But she quickly denied any plans to challenge her boss in 2020, instead saying it was “time to stand aside” and that she would remain loyal to Trump.

Environment chief Scott Pruitt

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt’s tenure was beset by scandal, and Trump pushed him out in July.

A former Oklahoma attorney general with ties to fossil fuel industries, Pruitt was accused of using his position to enrich his own family’s lifestyle in violation of federal law.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson was fired by Trump in March, ending a rocky tenure for the former Exxon chief executive as the nation’s top diplomat.

Tillerson was frequently at odds with the mercurial president and Trump said that while the pair got along well, they “disagreed on things” – notably the Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew in May.

During his brief stay at Foggy Bottom, Tillerson frequently found himself out of the loop and caught unawares by policy shifts announced in Trump tweets.

Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

The architect of Trump’s nationalist-populist campaign and his election victory, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was nicknamed the Prince of Darkness and the Shadow President.

His economic nationalism became the lynchpin of Trump policies, even as many of Bannon’s other ideas were rebuffed by policy rivals.

Bannon’s constant clashes with other advisors became untenable, as did his ties to the extreme right, which drew accusations that Trump fostered racists. Bannon left in August 2017.

Top Economic Advisor Gary Cohn  

Gary Cohn, a former president of investment bank Goldman Sachs, resigned as Trump’s top economic advisor on March 6, 2018 in protest against the president’s decision to levy new global trade tariffs.

A long-time Democrat, Cohn had always been an uneasy fit in an administration propelled to power by strident nationalism.

National Security Advisors Flynn, McMaster 

Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, was being investigated for his contacts with Russians and eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

He lasted only 22 days as national security advisor, ousted amid concerns he could be compromised by false statements he made over his contacts with Russian officials.

Flynn’s replacement HR McMaster, also a lieutenant general, lasted barely a year. He never really clicked with the president, who bristled at McMaster echoing the US intelligence establishment consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

 

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Kavanaugh Hears First Arguments as New US Supreme Court Justice

The newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, took his seat Tuesday and heard his first arguments, just days after he narrowly won Senate confirmation to fill a vacancy on the country’s highest court.

A handful of protesters opposed to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment to the court gathered outside, chanting, “This isn’t over, we’re still here.”

Trump, in a Twitter comment, claimed without evidence that demonstrators against Kavanaugh were hired to protest. But he said that “the paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid! Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious – less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!”

Kavanaugh’s first Supreme Court case involved arguments over the federal criminal sentencing law and came hours after Trump staged a ceremonial swearing-in for Kavanaugh at the White House. The jurist had already been officially sworn in Saturday soon after the Senate voted 50-48 to confirm his appointment.

Kavanaugh’s appointment roiled Washington for weeks, after university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting him more than three decades ago when both were teenagers growing up in suburban Washington. Ford told lawmakers she was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh attacked her, but Kavanaugh forcefully denied he had assaulted her or any other woman.

At Monday night’s ceremony, Trump declared, “On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. You, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent.”

Kavanaugh said, “Every American can be assured that I will be an independent and impartial justice.”

As Trump, the other eight court justices and a number of Republican senators crucial to the confirmation process watched, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy administered the judicial oath to Kavanaugh.

“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That is now over,” Kavanaugh said. He added that the Supreme Court “is not a partisan or political institution,” promising to “always be a team player on a team of nine.”

Hours before the White House ceremony, Trump accused opposition Democrats of plotting to remove Kavanaugh from the bench.

 

Kavanaugh was “caught up in a hoax set up by the Democrats,” Trump told reporters, without elaborating. “And now they want to impeach him.”

 

Speaking before boarding the Marine One helicopter on the White House south lawn, Trump predicted the attack on Kavanaugh would cost the opposition party in next month’s nationwide congressional elections.

The president and his fellow Republicans are hoping the confirmation of the 53-year-old conservative jurist will energize their supporters in the midterm voting when political control of Congress is at stake.

 

“The American public has seen this charade, and it was a disgrace. And I think it’s really going to show you something come November 6,” Trump said.

 

Kavanaugh replaces Kennedy, a conservative jurist who often cast the deciding swing vote on ideologically divisive issues, upholding abortion and gay rights and the use of affirmative action aiding racial minorities in college admissions.

Independent court analysts, however, predict Kavanaugh is likely to concur with more conservative interpretations of the law, giving a solid 5-4 ideological edge on the court to those who lean to the right.

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Kavanaugh Hears First Arguments as New US Supreme Court Justice

The newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, took his seat Tuesday and heard his first arguments, just days after he narrowly won Senate confirmation to fill a vacancy on the country’s highest court.

A handful of protesters opposed to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment to the court gathered outside, chanting, “This isn’t over, we’re still here.”

Trump, in a Twitter comment, claimed without evidence that demonstrators against Kavanaugh were hired to protest. But he said that “the paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid! Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious – less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!”

Kavanaugh’s first Supreme Court case involved arguments over the federal criminal sentencing law and came hours after Trump staged a ceremonial swearing-in for Kavanaugh at the White House. The jurist had already been officially sworn in Saturday soon after the Senate voted 50-48 to confirm his appointment.

Kavanaugh’s appointment roiled Washington for weeks, after university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting him more than three decades ago when both were teenagers growing up in suburban Washington. Ford told lawmakers she was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh attacked her, but Kavanaugh forcefully denied he had assaulted her or any other woman.

At Monday night’s ceremony, Trump declared, “On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. You, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent.”

Kavanaugh said, “Every American can be assured that I will be an independent and impartial justice.”

As Trump, the other eight court justices and a number of Republican senators crucial to the confirmation process watched, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy administered the judicial oath to Kavanaugh.

“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That is now over,” Kavanaugh said. He added that the Supreme Court “is not a partisan or political institution,” promising to “always be a team player on a team of nine.”

Hours before the White House ceremony, Trump accused opposition Democrats of plotting to remove Kavanaugh from the bench.

 

Kavanaugh was “caught up in a hoax set up by the Democrats,” Trump told reporters, without elaborating. “And now they want to impeach him.”

 

Speaking before boarding the Marine One helicopter on the White House south lawn, Trump predicted the attack on Kavanaugh would cost the opposition party in next month’s nationwide congressional elections.

The president and his fellow Republicans are hoping the confirmation of the 53-year-old conservative jurist will energize their supporters in the midterm voting when political control of Congress is at stake.

 

“The American public has seen this charade, and it was a disgrace. And I think it’s really going to show you something come November 6,” Trump said.

 

Kavanaugh replaces Kennedy, a conservative jurist who often cast the deciding swing vote on ideologically divisive issues, upholding abortion and gay rights and the use of affirmative action aiding racial minorities in college admissions.

Independent court analysts, however, predict Kavanaugh is likely to concur with more conservative interpretations of the law, giving a solid 5-4 ideological edge on the court to those who lean to the right.

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Kanye West to Visit Trump at White House

Rapper Kanye West will meet with President Donald Trump for lunch at the White House on Thursday.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said West will also meet with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. “Topics of discussions will include manufacturing resurgence in America, prison reform, how to prevent gang violence, and what can be done to reduce violence in Chicago,” Sanders said in a statement.

An equally controversial and influential figure, West became one of Trump’s highest-profile celebrity supporters shortly after the 2016 election, visiting the president-elect at Trump Tower and posting pictures of himself on social media wearing a Make America Great Again hat. West has been booed during concerts for supporting Trump, most recently during his appearance as a musical guest on the television program Saturday Night Live.

Trump has called out the homicide rates in Chicago, West’s hometown. At the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando on Monday, Trump said, “The crime spree is a terrible blight on that city” and “There’s no reason for what’s going on there,” calling for city police to reinstate a “stop and frisk” policy.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded by noting that “overall gun violence was down…about 20 percent” in 2017 in the city, and continued to decline through the first nine months of this year. The city does also have a “stop and frisk” policy, though subject to restrictions agreed to in 2015 by police after a study by the American Civil Liberty Union found the practice largely targeted minorities.

Trump’s comments come at a time of racial tension in the city. Just last week, a jury convicted white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, an African American.

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Kanye West to Visit Trump at White House

Rapper Kanye West will meet with President Donald Trump for lunch at the White House on Thursday.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said West will also meet with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. “Topics of discussions will include manufacturing resurgence in America, prison reform, how to prevent gang violence, and what can be done to reduce violence in Chicago,” Sanders said in a statement.

An equally controversial and influential figure, West became one of Trump’s highest-profile celebrity supporters shortly after the 2016 election, visiting the president-elect at Trump Tower and posting pictures of himself on social media wearing a Make America Great Again hat. West has been booed during concerts for supporting Trump, most recently during his appearance as a musical guest on the television program Saturday Night Live.

Trump has called out the homicide rates in Chicago, West’s hometown. At the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando on Monday, Trump said, “The crime spree is a terrible blight on that city” and “There’s no reason for what’s going on there,” calling for city police to reinstate a “stop and frisk” policy.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded by noting that “overall gun violence was down…about 20 percent” in 2017 in the city, and continued to decline through the first nine months of this year. The city does also have a “stop and frisk” policy, though subject to restrictions agreed to in 2015 by police after a study by the American Civil Liberty Union found the practice largely targeted minorities.

Trump’s comments come at a time of racial tension in the city. Just last week, a jury convicted white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, an African American.

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Biden Stays Visible in South Carolina, Backs More Candidates

Joe Biden has said it’ll be at least January before he decides whether to enter the 2020 presidential race, but the former vice president is continuing to keep his name prominent in early voting states like South Carolina as voters there go to the midterm polls.

 

On Monday, the Democratic nominee seeking to become South Carolina’s state treasurer announced backing from Biden. In a news release, Biden called small business owner Rosalyn Glenn “the real deal.”

 

Biden has used the phrase in other states to characterize candidates who have his backing. In Arizona earlier this year, Biden called attorney general candidate January Contreras – a former Obama administration official – “the real deal” in a statement provided to the Arizona Republic. In May, Biden used the same language to refer to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida while stumping on behalf of Murphy’s U.S. Senate bid.

 

This is at least the fourth South Carolina race this year into which Biden has waded, although he’s had public affiliations with the other two candidates for years. Biden voiced support earlier this year for the state Senate bid of Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian, a longtime political ally who unsuccessfully tried to persuade Biden to enter the 2016 presidential race.

 

Biden, 75, has also announced support for Democratic gubernatorial nominee James Smith, for whom he’ll help raise funds in Charleston later this month. He’s also backing Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.

 

Glenn’s campaign didn’t immediately return a message seeking information on her ties to the former vice president.

 

Biden’s continuing political activity in South Carolina keeps him visible in this early-voting state, where other possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are also making the rounds. Later this month, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is set to headline a Democratic fundraiser in Orangeburg that will include many of the state’s most prominent black leaders and activists.

 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has made several recent trips to the state, including a keynote appearance at the Charleston County Democratic Party’s Blue Jam.

 

Rob Godfrey, who was a longtime adviser to former Gov. Nikki Haley and worked with the South Carolina Republican Party during the 2008 cycle, said the lower-tier endorsement primarily serves as a way for Biden to keep his identity alive as activists gear up for the next round of presidential campaigning but potentially cheapens the value of his backing, overall.

 

“This endorsement means more for Joe Biden and Joe Biden’s political future in South Carolina than it does for the candidate for treasurer,” Godfrey said. “When someone comes in and endorses an entire slate of candidates, it looks as though that person is looking out for himself rather than looking out for the people he’s endorsed.”

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‘Speak Now’ – Taylor Swift Sets Off Storm by Getting Political

Taylor Swift’s decision to break her silence on politics triggered a storm on Monday, with fans and commentators divided over whether one of pop music’s biggest stars should have spoken out.

Swift, 28, has notably stayed out of the U.S. political fray in contrast to her more vocal peers, like Democratic supporters Katy Perry and Beyonce, and Republican backer Kid Rock.

But on Sunday Swift told her 112 million Instagram followers that she was backing — and would vote for — two Democrats running in Tennessee in the U.S. congressional midterm elections on Nov. 6.

“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift wrote.

The “Speak Now” singer said she was a supporter of gay rights and women’s rights, and against racism.

“I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love,” Swift wrote, saying she would vote for Democrats Phil Bredesen for the U.S. Senate and Jim Cooper for the House of Representatives.

Bredesen, a former Tennessee governor, is facing Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn in what has become an extremely close race for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Bob Corker.

Swift said in her comments that while she typically tries to support women running for office, Blackburn’s voting record “appalls and terrifies me.”

Swift’s comments got 1.5 million likes on her Instagram page. But they enraged many conservatives, especially those in the country music community where Swift got her start as a teenager and went on to win 10 Grammys.

“What I used to love about Taylor Swift is she stayed away

from politics,” Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative non-profit student organization Turning Point, said on Fox News television on Monday.

Some sought to play down Swift’s influence outside her predominantly young girl fan base.

“So @taylorswift13 has every right to be political but it won’t impact election unless we allow 13 yr old girls to vote,” tweeted former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who twice sought the Republican presidential nomination.

Former “Star Trek” actor George Takei was among those welcoming Swift’s declaration ahead of what are expected to be polarizing elections in November.

“Guys, things have gotten so dire that even Taylor Swift had to say something,” Takei tweeted.

Model Chrissy Teigen, actress Blake Lively and singer Perry were among those adding “likes” to Swift’s Instagram post.

Swift is currently on a world tour to support her top-selling 2017 album “Reputation,” and will perform live at the American Music Awards show in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

“Respectfully, be quiet and sing!” wrote a Twitter user named Janice @theemporersnew. “I guess you’re more pop than country now anyway. You’re country fans are gonna be disappointed.”

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Trump Seeks Dismissal of Stormy Daniels Hush Money Lawsuit

U.S. President Donald Trump asked a federal judge on Monday to dismiss adult film actress Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit challenging the validity of a $130,000 hush money agreement over a tryst she claimed they had more than a decade ago.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Trump’s lawyer said the lawsuit by Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is moot because Trump never signed the agreement and has said he will not try to enforce it.

“There is no actual controversy between plaintiff and Mr. Trump,” the president’s lawyer Charles Harder wrote.

Michael Avenatti, who represents Daniels, has said keeping the case alive serves the public interest, and wants Trump to give sworn testimony.

“This was anticipated and we are not concerned about it,” Avenatti said in an email, referring to the dismissal request.

Daniels has claimed to have had a sexual liaison with Trump at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California-Nevada border.

Trump has denied having had sex with Daniels. A hearing on his dismissal request is scheduled for Dec. 3.

The case is separate from Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against Trump over his April tweet challenging as a “total con job” her claim that an unknown man threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 if she went public about the alleged tryst.

U.S. District Judge James Otero, who oversees both lawsuits, appeared poised at a Sept. 24 hearing to dismiss the defamation case.

He called Trump’s comment “hyperbole” that appeared to be protected free speech under the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The judge has yet to rule in that case.

Daniels had struck the hush money agreement with Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 to campaign finance violations, saying Trump told him before the election to arrange hush money payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed she had an affair with him.

Trump has denied having an affair with McDougal.

Avenatti has become a frequent critic of Trump and has said he may run for the White House in 2020.

The case is Clifford v Trump et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 18-02217.

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