On the heels of his recent wide-ranging interview with a liberal magazine, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said that the fresh wave of criticism this week from Democrats accusing President Donald Trump of sympathizing with white supremacist groups will, in the long run, play to his political advantage,
Trump has been labeled a racist before, Bannon argued, and was attacked almost constantly by Democrats during last year’s presidential election. But while Democrats were attacking the president, Bannon recalled, Trump was running on an economic message that ultimately proved more persuasive than any label his opponents could hang on him.
“This past election, the Democrats used every personal attack, including charges of racism, against President Trump. He then won a landslide victory on a straightforward platform of economic nationalism,” Bannon wrote in an email Thursday to The Washington Post. “As long as the Democrats fail to understand this, they will continue to lose. But leftist elites do not value history, so why would they learn from history?”
Charges against the president of racism, or at least sympathies for hate groups, have resurfaced this week in the wake of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend that left one woman dead and 19 others people injured.
In both his initial remarks and at a press conference on Tuesday, Trump said blame for the violence should be shared between the white supremacist groups and the protesters gathered to oppose their presence, remarking that there had been “very fine people” on both sides. The comments drew a nearly unanimous rebuke not just from Democrats, but from Republicans as well.
The president waded deeper into the controversy Thursday, writing on Twitter that he opposed the removal of Confederate statues and memorials from prominent locations across the U.S., lamenting that it was “so foolish” and “sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart.” Last weekend’s white supremacist rally had ostensibly been billed as a protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Bannon’s comments to the Post matched his remarks in two other interviews this week, one with The New York Times and another with a liberal magazine, The American Prospect. In both conversations, Bannon said Democrats’ focus o
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Datapoint: 47. That's approximately the number of hours it took President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacists by name following the violent protests in Charlottesville over the weekend. Now, government officials are dealing with the political disputes and security concerns over the removal of Confederate statues from public grounds.
Datapoint: 31. That’s the percent of the vote that Republican Luther Strange won in this week’s Alabama Senate primary. Strange, the establishment favorite who benefitted from Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell's backing, finished second in the primary. Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore finished first. Since neither candidate cleared 50 percent of the vote, the primary now heads to a runoff in late September.
Datapoint: 1. That’s the number of top West Wing staff — a.k.a. Steve Bannon — who openly applauded the president’s slow-moving reaction to Charlottesville this week. With the rise of generals in the White House and the backlash over the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, many are wondering who will be the next White House aide to leave the Trump administration.
Lawmakers and activists are preparing for the possibility that President Donald Trump's administration, in its zeal to slash the federal budget, will take the rare step of deliberately not spending all the money Congress gives it — a move sure to trigger legal and political battles.
The concern is mainly focused on the State Department, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has drawn criticism for failing to spend $80 million allocated by Congress to fight Russian and terrorist propaganda and for trying to freeze congressionally authorized fellowships for women and minorities. Activists and congressional officials fear such practices could take hold at other U.S. departments and agencies under Trump.
"We've seen just too many instances these past few months ... where there is clear congressional intent and funds provided, yet an unwillingness or inability to act," Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement to POLITICO.
Advocacy groups are consulting lawyers and gathering information on current spending and the laws that govern the budget; one NGO network is even surveying humanitarian organizations to gather more facts. Capitol Hill staffers are scouring the fine print of appropriations bills, hunting for loopholes that would allow the executive branch to slow down or stop spending.
The goal is to fend off cuts that they fear could damage foreign aid programs, hobble U.S. diplomacy and ultimately weaken America’s national security.
The issue could be a topic of debate at the upcoming confirmation hearing of Eric Ueland, a Trump nominee for a top State Department position. A former Republican Senate budget staffer, Ueland is hailed by conservatives and reviled by liberals for his budget wizardry.
Presidential administrations, even Republican ones that promote a small-government ideology, usually try to spend whatever money they get from Congress’s annual budget process. Federal managers sometimes find creative reasons to spend money to preserve their budgets for future years. Unspent funds revert to the U.S. Treasury.
The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development would be among the worst hit under Trump's fiscal 2018 budget, with a roughly one-third cut in their finances. But one Capitol Hill aide said questions about the Trump administration’s true spending goals have risen among activists