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Saturday
Aug192017

Mnuchin rebuffs calls from former Yale classmates to resign, defends Trump

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Facing calls from members of his Yale graduating class to resign, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Saturday night defended President Trump's response to the Charlottesville violence and reaffirmed his commitment to remain in the Trump cabinet.

The letter, penned Friday and signed as of Saturday by more than 350 members of Yale's 1985 graduating class, called on Mnuchin to resign from his post, calling it a "moral obligation."

Mnuchin's classmates say they felt compelled to write and publish the letter "because President Trump has declared himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as Americans, as men and women of Yale, and as decent human beings."

"We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing," the letter read.
Mnuchin was among a group of aides and cabinet members who stood beside the president at a press conference on Tuesday, during which Trump called participants in a white nationalist rally "very fine people."

In his response to the letter from his former classmates, Mnuchin defended Trump and took the opportunity to reiterate his stance on the events that unfolded in Charlottesville last weekend.

"While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the president, I feel compelled to let you know that the president in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways," he wrote.

"Our President deserves the opportunity to propose his agenda and to do so without the attempts by those who opposed him in the primaries, in the general election and beyond to distract the administration and the American people from these most important policy issues -– jobs, economic growth, and national security," Mnuchin wrote.


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Saturday
Aug192017

Boston's Mayor Marty Walsh responds to President Trump's tweet 

Scott Eisen/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- President Donald Trump tweeted support for the Boston Police Department handling of the free speech rally and counterprotest march held on Saturday afternoon. The President commended the the protesters "who are speaking out against bigotry and hate."



Boston Police arrested 27 people during the protests.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh responded to the President by tweeting the city of Boston stood for "peace and love, not bigotry and hate." He also said they should work toward unity.



The rally and protest march ended earlier than expected. Following the rally, President Trump tweeted thanks and "great job" to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

 

On Saturday, after the Boston rally and protest march ended, Trump tweeted thanks and "great job" to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Walsh tweeted Saturday morning asking for peace and respect at Saturday's "Free Speech" rally and counter-protests.

"I ask everyone to be peaceful today and respect our City," he wrote. "Love, not hate. We stand together against intolerance."

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Saturday
Aug192017

'The Three Amigos' John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman go hiking in Arizona

@SenJohnMcCain/Twitter(WASHINGTON) -- The boys are back.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. -- previously dubbed "The Three Amigos" by retired Gen. David Petraeus -- headed on Saturday to Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon, where they hiked and waded in water. McCain's daughter Meghan joined the trio.

McCain tweeted a photo of the casually dressed, baseball cap-wearing group.


McCain, who is battling brain cancer, has finished his first round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Meghan McCain announced on Friday.

In another photo McCain tweeted, he and Lieberman are wading in the water.

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Saturday
Aug192017

President Trump cheers Steve Bannon's return to Breitbart News 

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump is cheering his former chief strategist Steve Bannon's return to leading the conservative media outlet Breitbart News after his forced resignation from the White House.

Trump tweeted from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club Saturday that Bannon may be "even better than ever before" in his return to Breitbart.


The White House has not said whether President Trump and Bannon have spoken since Bannon was forced to resign from his post Friday as chief strategist.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the departure, effective Friday, was "mutually agreed" to by Bannon and chief of staff John Kelly.

"We are grateful for his service and wish him the best," Sanders added in a statement to ABC News.

A source close to Trump told ABC News that it was ultimately the president's decision to dismiss Bannon. The message was delivered Friday morning from Kelly, who was with the president at his golf resort in Bedminster. Bannon was at the White House when he received the call that it was time for him to leave.

Bannon had submitted a letter of resignation to the president earlier this month with an effective date of Monday, Aug. 14, according to sources close to both Bannon and Trump. But amid the fallout from Trump's controversial response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and earlier this week, Bannon's Aug. 14 resignation date came and went as the president considered Bannon's future, sources said. Meanwhile, several top Trump aides continued to make the case that he needed to go.

Prior to joining the Trump administration, Bannon served as executive chairman of Breitbart News. On Friday evening, in the top story on its homepage, Breitbart announced Bannon's return to the media company to again serve as executive chairman.

" 'Populist Hero’ Stephen K. Bannon Returns Home to Breitbart," reads the headline.

Bannon has clashed with virtually every top official in the White House. Atop his list of in-house detractors were Kelly, senior adviser Jared Kushner and national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

One of McMaster's first moves was to remove Bannon from his seat at the National Security Council, a move that angered him. And his appointment as the council's chief political strategist was hugely controversial when it was first announced via executive order at the start of the administration.

Over the weekend, McMaster refused to say whether he would continue to work with Bannon.

Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August. He would become known as a fearless and critically influential adviser to the president, but has now become the latest high-profile aide to leave the White House. On July 21, press secretary Sean Spicer resigned, followed by chief of staff Reince Priebus. White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was fired a few days later, serving just 11 days in that role.

On Tuesday, the president told reporters at Trump Tower that Bannon was a "good man” and “not a racist.”

"I like Mr. Bannon. He's a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 senators, governors -- and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that," Trump said before adding, "But we'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon."

Trump had grown increasingly frustrated with Bannon in recent weeks, according to one senior White House official, and dissatisfaction from within Trump's inner circle was compounded Wednesday by his interview in American Prospect magazine, in which he seemed to undercut the president on North Korea.

"There's no military solution here. They got us," Bannon told the magazine.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Bannon confirmed rumors shared with ABC News by a source close to the former chief strategist that he would continue to work in the president's interests.

"If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media and in corporate America,” Bannon told Bloomberg News.

After news of Bannon's demise first went viral, Breitbart's editor tweeted an ominous message: "#WAR."

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Saturday
Aug192017

Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors amid boycott threat

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will skip the Kennedy Center Honors, one of the nation's highest-profile event honoring performing artists, after some awardees threatened to boycott a pre-ceremony reception at the White House.

The White House announced Saturday that the Trumps would not participate in the Dec. 3 event in Washington, D.C., to avoid "political distraction."

"The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year's activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, adding that the president and Melania Trump "extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year's award recipients for their many accomplishments."

The Kennedy Center said that in addition to the Trumps not attending, the traditional pre-ceremony reception at the White House was canceled this year. The center seemed relieved by the president's decision, saying in a statement, "We are grateful for the gesture."

"The Kennedy Center respects the decision made today by the president," said the statement tweeted by the center on Saturday.

"In choosing not to participate," it said, "the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees."

The White House announcement follows reports that honoree Norman Lear, creator of such iconic TV shows as "All in the Family," said he would accept the award this year but not attend the White House reception in protest of the president's proposed funding cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Other 2017 honorees, including musician Lionel Ritchie and singer Gloria Estefan, have also suggested they were considering not attending.

“I am honored to accept the award," Lear told the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 4. "I could not respect the arts and humanities more, and I could not be more honored to be in the company that are being honored. ... But I will not be going to the White House.”

In addition, actor Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close and the entire membership of the largely inactive President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned en masse on Friday, slamming the president's response to violence in Charlottesville last weekend.

"Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions," reads the letter signed by 16 of the committee's 17 members.

Past presidents have used the Kennedy Center Honors, now in its 40th year, as an opportunity to honor storied artists and entertainers with the White House reception followed by the president's attendance at a black-tie ceremony at the Kennedy Center.

Former President Jimmy Carter skipped in 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis, and former President Bill Clinton also skipped in 1994 as he embarked on a trip to Budapest for a security conference on Europe.

In December 2008, there was potential drama when Barbra Streisand, a liberal critic of President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, was among the Kennedy Center honorees. She went to the White House for the reception, and Bush seemed to acknowledge her criticism in his remarks.

“Barbra is also a person with passionate convictions and opinions that she is not afraid to share," Bush said. "I don’t know, at least that’s what they tell me. You know, it kind of makes me think of another Barbara I know."

It's not the first time Trump has bucked presidential tradition by skipping a potentially awkward event. In February, he made a point of not attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner.



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Saturday
Aug192017

Trump signs bill authorizing memorial to service members who fought in war on terror

@realDonaldTrump/Twitter(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Friday signed the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act, a move he documented by posting to his social media accounts a photo of the signing at Camp David while flanked by thirteen cabinet members and other staff.


The legislation clears the way for construction of a memorial to U.S. service members who have fought in the war on terror.

Included in the photo Trump shared are Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

The bill authorizes a nonprofit called the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation to oversee the creation of the monument, slated for Washington's National Mall.

"We’re looking forward to building a sacred place of healing and remembrance for our veterans and their families, and want to thank our partners and advocates who worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to pass this bipartisan legislation," said Andrew Brennan, the foundation’s founder and director.

According to Stars & Stripes, it is the first bill in recent history approving a national war memorial before the fighting is over.

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Saturday
Aug192017

John McCain completes first round of radiation, chemotherapy treatment

Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- John McCain, who is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, has finished the first round of radiation and chemotherapy treatment, according to his daughter, Meghan McCain, on Friday.


The Arizona Republican lawmaker returned to Phoenix in late July to begin treatment at the Mayo Clinic for glioblastoma.

In a statement released July 28, his office said, "In accordance with the guidance of his physicians, Sen. McCain is returning to Arizona to undergo further treatment at Mayo Clinic. On Monday, July 31, he will begin a standard post-surgical regimen of targeted radiation and chemotherapy. During that time, Sen. McCain will maintain a work schedule. He plans to return to Washington at the conclusion of the August recess."

Shortly after his daughter tweeted the update on his treatment, McCain on Friday tweeted a photo with staff at the Mayo Clinic.

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Saturday
Aug192017

Democratic representative says Trump presidency 'unraveling before our eyes'

Scott J. Ferrell/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump is facing fresh criticism over his response to the deadly violence that broke in Charlottesville last Saturday. A bipartisan group of lawmakers denounced the president's statements blaming "both sides" after counterprotesters clashed with neo-Nazis and white nationalists, leaving one dead and more than a dozen people injured.

Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., is among those criticizing Trump’s comments. Carson recently sponsored a House resolution calling on the president to fire white nationalists serving in his administration, he told ABC News' congressional correspondent Mary Bruce and national political reporter MaryAlice Parks on ABC's “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.

“Condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists should be easy,” the Indianapolis Democrat said. Carson, however, argues that the president decided to "stand up" for "bigots and defend a domestic terrorist organization."

In his Tuesday press conference, Trump said, “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. ... You had some fine people.” Carson said he believes the president’s failure to condemn white nationalists outright is "disgraceful and, quite frankly, unpresidential.”

While Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. John Kasich have taken to Twitter to condemn Trump’s comments, Carson believes their criticism could go further. “I would love to see my Republican colleagues speak out more boldly,” he said.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has also faced criticism for his failure to denounce the president’s words. Carson said that while the speaker has a “tough job,” he would “get more respect from his constituents and from the American people if he becomes bolder in rebuking and distancing himself from the Trump administration.”

That not more Republicans have spoken up against the president’s statements may isolate racial, ethnic and religious minorities, Carson said. Trump has "a history and a habit of minimizing groups of people," he said.

Carson said these statues “mythologize” historical figures, such as General Robert E. Lee, who led controversial lives. President Trump, however, disagreed. He took to Twitter on Thursday to argue that if localities begin to remove statues of Confederate figures, others -- such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington -- may have their statues removed as well.

Does Carson think Trump’s recent firing of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is a step in the right direction? Not quite. “He should have never been hired in the first place,” Carson said.

As summer nears its end, the Trump administration has faced several setbacks, including the president’s controversial comments about Charlottesville; the firing of several top aides, including Bannon and Anthony Scaramucci; and rising tensions with North Korea.

“I think that this presidency is unraveling before our eyes,” Carson said.

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Saturday
Aug192017

Missouri governor demands removal of senator over Trump assassination remark

Michael Thomas/Getty Images(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) -- Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Friday demanded the removal of a state senator who called for President Trump's assassination in a now-deleted Facebook post. Those remarks prompted an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.

Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, a Democrat, wrote on her personal Facebook page on Thursday, "I hope Trump is assassinated!" She later deleted the post.

Chapelle-Nadal has balked at calls for her resignation.

"I am not resigning," she tweeted Thursday. 


Greitens and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, both Republicans, on Friday called for Chapelle-Nadal's colleagues to oust her.


"If she will not resign, the Senate can vote to remove her. I believe they should," Greitens tweeted.

The Republican governor previously tweeted about Chappelle-Nadal.

In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chappelle-Nadal said, "I didn’t mean what I put up. Absolutely not. It was in response to the concerns that I am hearing from residents of St. Louis.”

Chappelle-Nadal made the remark in response to a post that suggested Vice President Mike Pence would try to have Trump removed from office. Chappelle-Nadal said she made the comment out of frustration with the Trump's response to last weekend's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Parson said he will ask senators to remove Chappelle-Nadal from office if she does not resign by the time lawmakers convene Sept. 13 to consider veto overrides. Parson is the presiding officer of the Senate, though he can only vote to break ties and cannot sponsor legislation or make motions for votes.

"She is no longer fit to serve our state," Parson said at a Capitol press conference on Friday.

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Friday
Aug182017

Washington reacts to Steve Bannon's White House departure

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Lawmakers are reacting to the news that Steve Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist, has resigned from his post.

Bannon, a controversial figure in the Trump administration because of his tenure leading the conservative news outlet Breitbart, was facing calls to resign after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. Despite accusations of being a white nationalist, Bannon has denied that his ideologies are rooted in race.

Aside for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who called for Bannon's firing in April, Republicans were largely silent on social media.

Here's a look at the reactions to Bannon's resignation:

Democratic National Committee

"There is one less white supremacist in the White House, but that doesn't change the man sitting behind the Resolute desk. Donald Trump has spent decades fueling hate in communities, including his recent attempts to divide our country and give a voice to white supremacists. We need leaders who represent all of us and the diversity of our country. We must continue to rise and organize in order to bring about change. That is why Democrats will continue to show leadership and unify our country during this deeply troubling time.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind.

"I find it pretty interesting that Steve Bannon was hired despite the criticism about this white nationalist propaganda that he had been publishing at Breitbart... It was disgraceful to hire someone who said and published the terrible things he’s said. Long overdue." - on ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.

Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y.

"Steve Bannon should have never been given the honor of working in the White House and serving the Office of the President of the United States. His past work and strong ties to the white nationalist movement are a direct assault on our American values."

"But, let’s be clear, his departure does not absolve President Trump of his actions. The Oval Office has become the epicenter of support for neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and domestic terrorists. President Trump must apologize for standing up for hate and must immediately reverse course on his anti-immigrant and anti-American policies.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.

Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich.

"Steve Bannon’s exit from the White House is long overdue. However, given President Trump’s agenda and especially after his comments this past week about the violence in Charlottesville, he has much more work to do to convince the American people that he eschews racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism, and is working to unite – not divide – our country.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

"I'm happy that Steve Bannon will no longer work in the White House. But his departure cannot wash away the harm he and the President have done. It can't reverse the Muslim Ban. It can't reverse the President's inappropriate attacks on a Federal judge of Mexican heritage. And it can't reverse the White House's reluctance to denounce white supremacists."

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.

Rep. Al Green, D-Texas

Rep. Mike Quigley, R-Ill.

Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J.

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

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