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Bannon Removed From National Security Council and More in Politics Today

by Countable | 4.5.17

It’s difficult to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in this country and to break through the clutter, so we’re here to make it easier. Here’s what we at Countable are reading today:

1. Stephen Bannon removed from National Security Council

White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon will no longer be a member of the National Security Council's principals committee, according to three White House officials and federal register filings.

In addition, according to the federal register, the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are being restored to the NSC's principal's committee, which was their role in the Obama administration. The director of the CIA has also been added to the principal's committee.

Read more at The Washington Post.

2. For Trump, a Focus on U.S. Interests and a Disdain for Moralizing

Mr. Trump has dispensed with what he considers pointless moralizing and preachy naïveté. He has taken foreign policy to its most realpolitik moment in generations, playing down issues of human rights or democracy that animated his predecessors, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. His "America First" approach focuses not on how other nations treat their people but on what they can do for the United States.

The past week has showcased the emerging philosophy. Even before Tuesday’s brutal chemical weapons attack in Syria, the Trump administration had said that pushing out Mr. Assad, Syria’s president, was not a priority, reversing Mr. Obama’s position. On Monday, Mr. Trump welcomed Egypt’s authoritarian leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to the White House with no public mention of the thousands of political opponents imprisoned there. On Thursday, Mr. Trump will host China’s Communist president, Xi Jinping, in Florida at his Mar-a-Lago estate, where trade and security will overshadow domestic repression.

Read more at the New York Times.

3. DHS: Immigration agents can make courthouse arrests

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says immigration agents are authorized to arrest crime victims and witnesses at courthouses, amid scrutiny of the Trump administration's immigration enforcement tactics.

"Just because they’re a victim in a certain case does not mean there’s not something in their background that could cause them to be a removable alien," DHS spokesman David Lapan said Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.

Read more at The Hill.

4.Trump’s DHS asks court to put hold on challenge to Obama work rules

The Trump administration has told a federal appeals court in Washington that any changes in a program that grants work permits to the spouses of highly-skilled foreign workers who hold H-1B visas is better handled through the regulatory process than through a court order.

While the Trump administration promised Monday to beef up enforcement of the H-1B visa program, it opened applications for this year’s batch of H-1B visas with quotas for the program essentially unchanged.

Read more at McClatchyDC.

5. Trump eases the way for a controversial water pumping project in a California desert

In another U-turn from existing environmental policy, the Trump administration has eased the way for a controversial California desert water project that President Obama’s team had blocked.

But in a March 29 memo, an acting assistant director at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management revoked two legal guidances that underpinned the agency’s 2015 decision that Cadiz could not use an existing federal railroad right-of-way for a new water pipeline to carry supplies from the project’s proposed well field to the Colorado River Aqueduct.

Read more at the LA Times.

6. Trump Gives Military New Freedom. But With That Comes Danger.

President Trump has let the military know that the buck stops with them, not him. The Pentagon, after eight years of chafing at what many generals viewed as micromanaging from the Obama White House, is so far embracing its new freedom.

Yet with the new freedoms come new dangers for the military, including the potential of increased civilian casualties, and the possibility that Mr. Trump will shunt blame for things that go wrong to the Pentagon. Mr. Trump already did that after the botched raid in Yemen in January, which led to the death of Chief Petty Officer William Owens, a member of the Navy SEALs known as Ryan, despite having signed off on that raid himself.

Read more at the New York Times.

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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