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Published: Thursday, November 30, 2017 @ 2:40 PM
— The White House has plans to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA. chief Mike Pompeo Thursday, according to administration sources, following multiple reports this year indicating tension between Tillerson and President Donald Trump.
Two senior administration officials confirmed the plans on condition of anonymity, The Associated Press reported.
Under the proposed plan, according to The New York Times, Pompeo would be replaced by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas.
Tillerson’s departure has been widely anticipated for months, but associates said he sought to finish out the year “to retain whatever dignity he could,” the Times reported.
His exit would make his time as secretary of state the shortest of those whose tenure was not ended by a change in presidents in nearly 120 years.
The relationship between Tillerson and Trump has been strained by name-calling and public disagreements on multiple major issues.
Here are five times Trump and Tillerson publicly disagreed on an issue:
1. When Trump criticized Tillerson’s approach to North Korea and “Little Rocket Man”
In October, President Donald Trump publicly contradicted Tillerson’s stance on a North Korea and tweeted that Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump’s nickname for North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.
“Save your energy, Rex, we’ll do what has to be done,” Trump wrote, and warned of U.S. military action to the country’s escalating nuclear threat.
Trump also told reporters during a photo op at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course: “As I said, they will be met with fire, fury and frankly, power – the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
This was one day after Tillerson, who would rather avoid military use to reach a consensus with the country, said he was trying to open the door for talks with North Korea.
Others in Congress also spoke against Trump’s approach.
“North Korea is a global threat that requires American diplomacy,” said Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota, who labeled Trump’s talk “dangerous and risks war.”
2. When the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accord
In August, Tillerson publicly disagreed with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a pact to voluntarily curb greenhouse gas emissions.
"I was free to express my views. I took a counter view to the decision that was made," Tillerson said.
The United States is now the only country that has rejected the global pact, according to the Times.
3. When Trump blamed “both sides” for the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally
Following the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally of white supremacists that resulted in the death of rally protester 32-year-old Heather Heyer, Trump blamed “both sides” for the deadly violence.
Heyer was killed when a neo-Nazi drove a car into her and other demonstrators at the rally.
The president’s comments were widely criticized. United Nations experts, without explicitly naming Trump, said it was “a failure at the highest political level of the United States of America to unequivocally reject and condemn racist violence,” the Times reported.
Amid the backlash to Trump’s comments following the attack, Tillerson addressed State Department interns and staff.
“We do not honor, nor do we promote or accept, hate speech in any form,” Tillerson said at the event. “Those who embrace it poison our public discourse, and they damage the very country that they claim to love.”
When asked whether Trump’s response represented “American values,” Tillerson said on Fox News, “The president speaks for himself ... I have spoken. I have made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.”
4. When Tillerson undercut Trump’s Afghanistan strategy
During an address to military personnel in August, Trump repeatedly said the U.S. would win the war in Afghanistan and do so by military action.
"Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win," he said during an address to military personnel in August. "From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaida, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge."
Tillerson’s approach to the Taliban was more diplomatic and undercut Trump’s.
"You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you," he said, addressing the Taliban. "So at some point, we have to come to the negotiating table and find a way to bring this to an end."
“ A clear victory,” The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reported, “is something that basically any military expert will tell you is very difficult to foresee (much less predict) in Afghanistan — especially with only a few thousand more troops on top of already-far-reduced troop levels and an apparently limited amount of patience from the commander in chief.
5. General concern (or lack of) for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election
Despite growing evidence from the U.S. intelligence community of Russian interference in the election, Trump has repeatledly dismissed or minimized the findings, circling back to U.S. intelligence’s failure 15 years ago regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to increase doubt about the agencies’ conclusions.
"I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction. How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? That led to one big mess," Trump said. "They were wrong and it led to a mess. So, it was Russia. And I think it was probably others also. And that's been going on for a long period of time."
Tillerson, on the other hand, is concerned about Russian interference. He has said he’s tried "to help [the Russian government] understand just how serious this incident had been and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between the U.S. and the American people and the Russian people.”
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 5:16 PM
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is in excellent health and likely to finish his term in office without any medical issues, a presidential doctor said Tuesday at a news conference, four days after the president underwent a physical exam.
“The president's overall health is excellent," White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson said Tuesday.
Here are six things to know about the results of the president’s physical:
Jackson: ‘He had great findings across the board’
Trump is in “very, very good health,” Jackson said Tuesday.
“(I have) no concerns for his heart health,” the presidential physician said. “There are many good things that came from his exam, I think he had great findings across the board. “
Jackson said Trump’s good health is likely to last through “the remainder of this tern, and even for the remainder of another term, if he’s elected.” He said he based his assessment on the president’s cardiac results.
“He falls into a category that portends years of event-free living,” Jackson said. “He has incredibly good genes, and that’s just the way God made him.”
White House doctor says despite President Trump's fast food habit and lack of exercise, he's in "excellent" condition; "He has incredibly good genes, and it's just the way God made him" https://t.co/fpNP3Hpnco pic.twitter.com/VGoTFSgp7C— CNN (@CNN) January 16, 2018
Cognitive screening showed no issues
Jackson said he conducted a cognitive screening on Trump at the president’s request, although he felt the test was unnecessary.
“I’ve spent almost every day in the president’s presence,” said Jackson, whose office is near Trump’s. “I’ve got to know him pretty well and I had absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability or neurological functions.”
He said that in all his conversations with Trump, the president has been “very articulate.”
“I’ve never known him to repeat himself around me,” Jackson said. “He says what he wants to say and speaks his mind.”
Infamous slurred speech incident might have been caused by medication
A December incident in which the president sounded as though he was slurring his speech while announcing a policy shift in Israel was probably due to a medication, Jackson said.
“We evaluated him, we checked everything out and everything was normal,” Jackson said, adding that the incident was likely caused because the president needed water.
He said prior to the Dec. 7 incident, he gave Trump Sudafed, which might have “inadvertently dried up his secretions.”
Trump working to lose 10-15 pounds
At 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, the president has a body mass index of 29.9, just under the number that would designate him as obese, according to information released Tuesday.
“The president, he and I talked and... I think a reasonable goal over the next year or so is (to lose) 10 or 15 pounds,” Jackson said, adding that a nutritionist would be meeting with White House chefs in the coming weeks and that Trump would be put on an exercise routine.
“He’s more enthusiastic about the diet,” Jackson said.
Jackson not concerned about Trump’s stress levels
Despite concerns from the public and reports that have painted a chaotic White House, Jackson said that he has no concerns about the president’s stress levels.
“I talk to him sometimes about stress just because I think it’s my job as his physician to bring it up on occasion,” he said. “I’ve never seen the president stressed out too much. ... He has a unique ability to push the reset button and he just gets up and he starts a new day. (I think it’s) made him healthier from a stress standpoint.”
Jackson did not test Trump’s hearing
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:57 AM
WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to testify before a grand jury as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to the Trump campaign, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
SCOOP: Mueller has subpoenaed Steve Bannon to testify before a grand jury as part of the ongoing Russia investigation. First person in Trump's inner circle known to have received a grand jury subpoena. https://t.co/dbKWuDjdMp— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) January 16, 2018
Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 11:19 AM
WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week in its probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to multiple reports.
An unidentified source told Reuters on Thursday that the interview will take place Tuesday behind closed doors. It will focus on Bannon’s time as Trump’s campaign chief and not on his time in the White House, according to Reuters.
In preparation for the interview, Bannon hired Washington attorney Bill Burck to represent him, NBC News reported Friday. Burck was previously hired to represent former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and White House counsel Donald McGhan in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and its possible ties to the Trump campaign, according to Law360.
Burck is representing Bannon only before the committee and not in Mueller’s probe, NBC News reported.
Trump named Bannon, the former chairman of the conservative news website Breitbart News, as his campaign chief in August 2016. After his inauguration, Trump appointed Bannon to fill the newly created position of White House chief strategist.
He left the Trump administration in August 2017, almost exactly one year after joining Trump’s presidential campaign.
Days before his exit, Bannon faced scrutiny for an interview he did with the liberal magazine The American Prospect, contradicting the president's warnings to North Korea of "fire and fury" in response to threats. Tension between the pair intensified last week after Bannon was quoted in journalist Michael Wolff’s controversial tell-all book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
Bannon told Wolff he thought a meeting set up by the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others in June 2016 was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” Trump slammed Bannon in a statement after the comments were made public, saying, “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
Bannon later apologized for the comments.
Bannon announced Tuesday that he would be leaving Breitbart News for the second time in two years.
"You have not heard the last from me," he wrote in a Twitter post announcing his departure.
I am proud of what we have achieved with Breitbart News. As I now step down I leave at a world-class news platform that has come a long way but has really just begun it’s mission. And you have not heard the last from me, new announcements coming up soon!#MAGA— Steven Bannon (@SteveKBannon) January 9, 2018
Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2018 @ 5:55 AM
— A federal judge in California dealt a blow to the Trump administration’s attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – also known as DACA – on Tuesday by temporarily blocking their ability to do so.
In his ruling, Judge William Alsup said DACA must stay in place until litigation over the program is complete. He also said that the Department of Homeland Security’s “decision to rescind DACA was based on a flawed legal premise.”
The judge’s ruling will allow recipients who didn’t renew by last year’s deadline to submit renewal applications, but no new applications will be allowed to be submitted.
“Dreamers’ lives were thrown into chaos when the Trump administration tried to terminate the DACA program without obeying the law,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, according to The Hill. “Today’s ruling is a huge step in the right direction.”
“America is and has been home to Dreamers who courageously came forward, applied for DACA and did everything the federal government asked of them,” Becerra continued. “They followed DACA’s rules, they succeeded in school, at work and in business, and they have contributed in building a better America. We will fight at every turn for their rights and opportunities so they may continue to contribute to America.”
The Trump administration announced in September that it was ending the program; however, earlier on Tuesday, during a meeting with Republicans and Democrats to discuss immigration issues, Trump appeared willing to negotiate a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants – a move that stunned both Democrats and Republicans.
“My head is spinning with all the things that were said by the president and others in that room in the course of an hour and a half,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said, according to The New York Times.
During the meeting, Trump also appeared to support Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein’s call for a clean DACA bill, which would push off dealing with issues like border security until later.
In a tweet Tuesday evening, though, he did seem to harden his resolve on the border wall, saying that a southern border wall must be part of any “DACA approval.”
As I made very clear today, our country needs the security of the Wall on the Southern Border, which must be part of any DACA approval.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2018