Trump Heads To Arizona To Push Border Wall Funding, Rally Supporters Tuesday, Aug 22 2017 

Updated at 1:28 p.m. ET

President Trump is returning to a red-meat topic for his political base — building a border wall and cracking down on illegal immigration.

Before Trump rallies the faithful in Phoenix (and possibly also faces down protesters) at a campaign rally there Tuesday, he will check out a Predator drone and other equipment used by Customs and Border Protection to track and stop people from entering the country illegally.

Department of Homeland Security officials, in a call with reporters Tuesday morning, said Trump’s stop in Yuma, Ariz., will allow him to highlight what can happen when a border wall (or, technically, a fence) is combined with additional enforcement resources.

Before 2006, there were only 5.2 miles of border wall in what’s known as the Yuma sector. Now, there are 63 miles of wall and illegal border crossings are down more than 80 percent, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

“So investments in the wall, as well as other border infrastructure, law enforcement personnel and technology, as well as increased prosecutions all resulted in a steep drop in illegal border crossings,” said an official with the department who declined to be named. “What was once one of the least secure border areas in America is now one of the most secure areas because of those investments in border security.”

Vice President Pence told Fox News in a live interview Tuesday morning that the president will use his campaign rally in Phoenix to lay out his agenda for the weeks ahead as Congress prepares to return to Washington. “We want to build a wall and have internal enforcement and border security,” Pence said.

“Illegal immigration at our southern border is down now more than 60 percent. And that’s the result of the leadership that President Trump has been providing. But we need Congress to continue to support those efforts,” Pence added.

There has been some discussion of demanding that funding for the wall be part of the government funding bills that must pass by the end of September. Others have talked about making it part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, which also has a looming deadline. But it’s not clear this is as high a priority for Republicans in Congress as it is for the president.

As Pence points out, illegal border crossings are down significantly under Trump. According to Department of Homeland Security statistics, from Jan. 1 to July 31, 2017, the Border Patrol apprehended 126,472 individuals attempting to illegally enter the U.S. at the border. That’s a 46 percent decrease from the same period in 2016, which means fewer people are trying to enter the country now.

Trump is returning to the wall, one of the greatest hits of his campaign and something that had supporters chanting “build the wall” with zeal, just as he is taking hits from the far right for his decision to fire adviser Steve Bannon and to keep American forces in Afghanistan, apparently indefinitely. Trump is also still under fire from both the left and and from elected officials in his own party for his remarks about the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., which led to the death of a 32-year-old woman.

And after two weeks of “working vacation” that included escalating tensions with North Korea, Venezuela and Republican senators, Trump is back to familiar territory with Tuesday night’s “Make America Great Again” rally in Phoenix. But, previewing the president’s speech, Pence indicated there will be more focus on his agenda in Congress than a more traditional Trump campaign speech.

“The message I think the president will deliver tonight is that we need to get on with the business of the American people. I mean, this president was elected to rebuild our military, to restore our economy, to make America safe again,” Pence said on Fox And Friends. “And I think tonight you will hear the president say that, as the Congress prepares to come back, here’s the agenda.”

Pence will also attend Tuesday’s rally.

Trump had raised speculation that he might use his trip to Arizona to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was recently convicted of contempt of court for refusing to stop targeting people for traffic stops who might be illegal immigrants. Trump told a Fox news contributor that he was “seriously considering” it, then retweeted the article about it.

When asked about it Tuesday, a White House official would not say whether the president plans to offer Arpaio a pardon.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Louisville Activists Call On McConnell To Hold Trump Accountable Tuesday, Aug 22 2017 

About two-dozen demonstrators held signs and delivered speeches Tuesday outside the Louisville office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding that McConnell hold President Donald Trump accountable for comments he made following this month’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Louisville protest was organized by Melissa Byrne of the group UltraViolet. According to its Facebook page, the group “works on a range of issues, including health care, economic security, violence, and reproductive rights.”

“Mitch McConnell refuses to call for Trump’s impeachment, resignation or censure after his comments equivocating and supporting the white supremacists in Charlottesville,” Byrne said.

At a news conference following the Charlottesville rally, Trump said that “both sides” were to blame for violence that erupted at the rally and that there were some “very fine people” among those marching to protect Confederate statues.

Byrne said McConnell needs to do more to hold Trump accountable for his remarks.

“It’s actually beyond vocal,” she said. “It’s easy to put out a tweet or a statement. He needs to back up his words with action.”

When asked for a response, McConnell’s office on Tuesday pointed to comments the senator has made condemning the “hate and bigotry witnessed in Charlottesville” and his statement that there are “no good neo-Nazis.”

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” McConnell said in a statement last week. “There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”

Property tax rates down again in LouisvilleKY Metro for third consecutive year Tuesday, Aug 22 2017 

Louisville, Ky., – For the third consecutive year, property tax rates will go down for Louisville residents, according to Metro Government’s Office of Management and Budget.

“The benefits of our economic momentum reach Metro residents in many ways,” said Mayor Fischer. “A decrease in property tax rates is one of them.”

This year, the countywide Metro real property tax rate will go from 12.45 cents per $100 assessed value to 12.35 cents. That change amounts to a one dollar savings for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

“Continued growth in our local economy and a strong real estate market are drivers of the downward movement in our property tax rates,” said Metro Chief Financial Officer Daniel Frockt.

Louisville Skyline

The Urban Service District real property tax rate will hold steady this year at 35.38 cents per $100 assessed value according to a property tax ordinance filed today with Metro Council.

Both real property tax rates are at their lowest level since merger.

Property taxes fund approximately 25 percent of the city’s budget.

Metro residents have an opportunity to comment on the proposed property tax rates during a public hearing at noon on Thursday, Sept. 14, in room 106 at Metro Hall.

Once Metro Council approves the ordinance, the rates take effect on property tax bills released by the sheriff in early November.

The post Property tax rates down again in LouisvilleKY Metro for third consecutive year appeared first on Louisville KY.

Fact Check: What Has President Trump Done To Fight Illegal Immigration? Tuesday, Aug 22 2017 

President Trump returns Tuesday night to the same Phoenix convention center where he spoke during the campaign last year, laying out a 10-point plan to fight illegal immigration.

He’s also visiting a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Yuma, Arizona, a few miles from the Southwest border.

Now seven months into his presidency, Trump has pushed for dramatic changes to the nation’s immigration system. But he’s also been stymied by Congress and by the courts.

Here’s a look at what the Trump White House has accomplished on each of those 10 promises — and what it hasn’t.

1. “We will build a great wall along the southern border. And Mexico will pay for the wall.”

The border wall remains more aspiration than reality. The Department of Homeland Security is waiving environmental rules to speed up construction of prototypes near San Diego.But so far, Mexico has balked at paying for the wall. And so has Congress. The House has appropriated nearly $1.6 billion for the first phase of construction, but the Senate hasn’t.

2. “We are going to end catch and release.”

Administration officials say they’re following through on Trump’s promise to end so-called catch and release. That’s how many critics describe the policy that allowed many immigrants to go free until their court dates, which can often be years away because of court backlogs.

In practice, it’s not clear that the Trump administration is handling these cases much differently than previous administrations did.But there has been a dramatic drop in the number of people apprehended at the Southwest border since Trump took office — a 46 percent drop during the first seven months of the year compared to 2016, according to a DHS official. The total for March was the lowest in at least 17 years, although the numbers have started to creep back up since then.

3. “Zero tolerance for criminal aliens.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests are up more than 43 percent since late January compared to the same period in 2016, according to a DHS official. “We are still continuing to prioritize our resources on those individuals that create and pose the greatest public safety and national security threat,” the official said. 72% of those arrested had criminal convictions, a much lower percentage than the final years of Obama administration.

Trump has pushed Congress for funding to hire more agents for ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. But like funding for the border wall, Congress has yet to sign off.

4. “Block funding for sanctuary cities.”

The Justice Department is trying to follow through on that promise to punish so-called sanctuary cities, which limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. DOJ made some law enforcement grants contingent on whether those cities do more to help ICE.

But Chicago and California quickly took the administration to court. That’s in addition to lawsuits filed earlier this year by San Francisco, Seattle and other self-described sanctuary cities.

5. “Cancel unconstitutional executive orders and enforce all immigration laws.”

This probably refers to two Obama-era executive actions including DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children from deportation.

The Trump White House dropped its support for a related program called DAPA, which was supposed to help the parents of those children.

But so far, the White House has allowed DACA to continue, much to the dismay of immigration hardliners. Texas and other states are threatening to sue if the administration doesn’t pull its support for DACA by September 5.

6. “We are going to suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur.”

This is part of what Trump’s travel ban executive order was supposed to do.

The order Trump signed just a week after taking office would have blocked travelers from seven mostly-Muslim countries that the administration says are known havens for terrorists.

Federal courts put the original order on hold. But the Supreme Court allowed a limited version of the travel ban to take effect until it can hear legal challenges to the ban in the fall.

7. “We will insure that other countries take their people back when they order them deported.”

Trump pointed out in Phoenix last year that immigrants with criminal records can wind up staying in the U.S. because their home country won’t take them back. The White House has reportedly cut the number of non-cooperative countries from 23 to 12. Immigration hawks say that’s a big win, and that the administration deserves more credit for it.

8. “We will finally complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system which we need desperately.”

For years, Congress has required the Department of Homeland Security to create a system to track everyone who comes in and out of the country using biometric technologies like facial recognition or fingerprint scanners.

In recent years, a majority of new undocumented immigrants have overstayed temporary visas, while the number crossing the border illegally has fallen.

Customs and Border Protection is testing a few prototype systems at U.S. airports this summer. But experts say a comprehensive solution that will work at more than 300 land, sea and air ports of entry remains a long way off.

9. “We will turn off the jobs and benefits magnet.”

In the spring, Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to “Buy American” and “Hire American,” and urging others to do the same.

But critics point out that Trump’s own companies continue to hire foreign guest workers and manufacture overseas.And just as the White House’s “Made in America” week was underway in July, the administration announced it would allow an additional 15,000 temporary foreign workers.

10. “We will reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers, the forgotten people.”

Earlier this month, the White House threw its support behind the RAISE Act, which would prioritize immigrants with valuable skills and high-paying U.S. job offers, and gradually reduce the number of other foreign nationals who can reunite with their families already living in the U.S. But there seems to be little enthusiasm for the bill in the Senate.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Kentucky GOP Senator To Run For Attorney General In 2019 Tuesday, Aug 22 2017 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Republican state senator launched his campaign for attorney general on Tuesday more than two years ahead of the 2019 election, ratcheting up the political pressure on one of the state’s few Democratic officeholders.

Whitney Westerfield says he will file his letter of intent with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance on Tuesday, meaning the two-term state senator can begin raising money for the statewide race. Andy Beshear holds the position now, one of only two Democrats in statewide office and the only one eligible to run for re-election in 2019.

The announcement will likely put more attention on Beshear’s political future. Westerfield lost the 2015 attorney general’s race to Beshear by less than one half of 1 percentage point. It was a surprisingly close race, given that Westerfield raised about $300,000 compared to the nearly $3 million raised by Beshear, the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear.

But as the most outspoken critic of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, Beshear is seen as the most likely candidate to mount a campaign for governor in 2019. Beshear has sued Bevin four times over his use of executive authority to overhaul state government, igniting a bitter feud between the two politicians.

Beshear has not said if he will seek re-election or run for governor. Westerfield is preparing for both scenarios. The early kickoff to his campaign could give him a head start on raising money and re-introducing himself to voters beyond his western Kentucky Senate district.

As the influential chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Westerfield has helped pass high-profile legislation, including tougher penalties for heroin dealers, allowing some convicted felons to expunge their criminal records and letting women in abusive dating relationships seek emergency protective orders from the court.

And Westerfield has plenty of complaints about Beshear, including his announcement he would not defend a law the legislature passed banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. So far, that law has not been challenged in court. But Westerfield said if he were attorney general, he would defend every law the legislature passes.

“If I’m the attorney general and a Democratic legislature or governor passes (gambling) legislation, which I detest, I’d have to defend it,” Westerfield said. “The attorney general can’t be about picking and choosing which fights to do or get involved in.”

Westerfield criticized Beshear’s lawsuits against Bevin, saying he believed them to be politically motivated. But he said he would not be a “rubber stamp” for a Republican governor, pointing to his criticism of Republican President Donald Trump as an example of his willingness to “speak truth to power.”

Asked what criticisms he had of Bevin, Westerfield said he had none.

“There are some methods maybe in the way that he goes about doing business that I’m not accustomed to, but in terms of legislation or what he is doing, I can’t find any errors,” he said.

Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley noted Beshear’s office has secured millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements to help the state, including $10 million that has gone to drug treatment programs.

Staley also said Beshear has had the “courage to be the check on executive power that our Constitution requires.” When Bevin bypassed the state legislature to order state colleges and universities to cut their budgets, Beshear sued and the Supreme Court ordered Bevin to give the money back.

“Attorney General Beshear hopes anyone running for this office would be equally willing to uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of Kentuckians when a public official violates the law,” she said.

President Trump’s Address On Afghanistan, Annotated Monday, Aug 21 2017 

President Trump is addressing the nation Monday night, beginning at 9 p.m., on U.S. engagement and “the path forward” in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Senior U.S. officials tell NPR that the president is expected to order about 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The decision follows months of deliberation within the Trump Administration, involving top military commanders, political advisers and even enlisted veterans of the nearly 16-year war.

NPR journalists from across the newsroom are offering context and analysis about President Trump’s remarks. Follow along below.

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In Louisville, McConnell, Mnuchin Say Debt Ceiling Increase Will Happen Monday, Aug 21 2017 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there is “zero chance” Congress will allow the country to default on its debt by voting to not increase the borrowing limit.

McConnell’s comments came Monday during a joint appearance in Louisville with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin said it is his “strong preference” that Congress pass a “clean” increase to the debt limit, meaning the legislation would have no other proposals attached to it that would make it more difficult to pass. He also said simplifying the nation’s tax code is a priority.

“What we’re trying to do, on the personal side, is simplify taxes,” he said. “Taxes are way, way too complicated. By raising the standard deduction, by limiting deductions, 95 percent of Americans will be able to fill out their taxes on a large postcard.”

McConnell did not comment on Mnuchin’s request for a clean debt ceiling increase, but vowed to “get the job done.”

He also didn’t mention Trump during his remarks. These were McConnell’s first public comments since the president publicly criticized him for failing to pass a repeal of former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

As far as the health care law goes, McConnell said the way forward on making dramatic changes is “murky.”

Last month, the Republican-led Senate failed to muster enough votes for a partial repeal of the ACA.

McConnell said moving forward, Republican leaders will look for some common ground with Democrats to revive the effort.

“The Democrats have been pretty uninterested in any reforms,” McConnell said. “They’re really interested in sending money to insurance companies, but not very interested in reforms.   So when we get back after Labor Day we’ll have to sit down and talk to them and see what the way forward might be.”

Racial Issues Have Often Been A Test for U.S. Presidents With Conflicted Feelings Sunday, Aug 20 2017 

President Trump is only the latest man in the White House to see his plans, his governing coalition and his popular standing all at risk because of a racially charged issue.

In the days since he blamed the fatal violence in Charlottesville, Va., on people on “both sides” of the confrontation, Trump has been rebuked by key senators from his own party and deserted by members of his business advisory boards, (which he then said he disbanded). The mayor of Phoenix has asked the president to delay a planned visit.

The entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities has resigned, and Trump himself has decided not to attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors gala and not to hold the traditional gathering for the honorees at the White House.

By week’s end, the president had also parted ways with chief strategist Steve Bannon, who had run Trump’s campaign for the presidency last fall. Bannon had described himself as pleased with the president’s handling of Charlottesville and his defense of Confederate statues.


Race — a subtext of American life

Race has been not only a recurring theme of American history but a subtext for much of our national life. The issue of slavery nearly broke up the convention that wrote the Constitution in 1787. It dominated debates in Congress for decades culminating in the Civil War in 1861. The treatment of former slaves and their descendants has roiled the social and political life of the nation ever since, forcing even presidents to examine their own hearts and question their own beliefs.

In some cases, the issue has engulfed a presidency, such as that of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who held the Union together and issued the Emancipation Proclamation. More often, it has been in the background, as when Virginia-born Woodrow Wilson had a private White House screening of the 1915 film Birth of a Nation with scenes vilifying African-Americans and glorifying the Ku Klux Klan.

President Harry Truman was also a hereditary southerner, born in rural Missouri. But in the summer of 1948, Truman issued an executive order integrating the armed services:

“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

Southern Democrats were incensed and many would bolt the party that summer and fall, voting in November for the States’ Rights Party candidate Strom Thurmond. Truman, however, stood his ground. “My forebears were Confederates,” he replied. “But my very stomach turned over when I learned that Negro soldiers just back from overseas were being dumped out of Army trucks in Mississippi and beaten.”

Truman’s successor, President Dwight Eisenhower, grew up in Kansas and Texas and spent much of his life in the Army. He was not a fan of the 1954 Supreme Court decision against school segregation. But three years later, when nine Arkansas teenagers tried to integrate Little Rock Central High School in the face of an angry mob, President Eisenhower took up their cause.

Ike sent the legendary 101st Airborne Division to ensure that the students got through the jeering demonstrators. Delivering a then-rare televised address from the White House, Eisenhower said: “Our personal opinions have no bearing on the matter of enforcement; the responsibility and authority of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution are very clear.”

Civil rights movement versus resistance

The civil rights movement gained momentum through the late 1950s into the early 1960s, but resistance remained in high places. The governor of Alabama, George Wallace, made his political name with his vow to enforce “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.” In 1963, he stood literally “in the schoolhouse door” to block a black student’s enrollment in the University of Alabama. President John F. Kennedy had walked a careful line between civil rights enforcement and the sentiments of Southern Democrats (Wallace was still a Democrat at the time). But in this instance he nationalized state guardsmen and took to TV in much the manner of Ike, six years earlier.

“I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this,” Kennedy said. “This nation was founded … on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of all men are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”

But when Kennedy was assassinated five months later, it fell to his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, to enact the civil rights legislation that had languished in Congress for decades. Johnson, a southerner from Texas, would sign the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964 and win that fall’s election in a landslide.

But the following year he was concerned his agenda of Medicare, Medicaid and Great Society programs would suffer if he pressed too hard for a successor bill on voting rights. Events in Selma and Montgomery, Ala., forced his hand, however, and he went to Congress in March to demand action on what became the Voting Rights Act.

“As a man whose roots go deep into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are,” Johnson said, but he made it clear he was tired of hearing the old arguments and obfuscations. “The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong — deadly wrong — to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.”

‘A More Perfect Union’

In more recent times, we have seen our first African-American president struggle with the burden of racism and seemingly overcome it. Perhaps, Barack Obama’s most famous speech of 2008 came in March of that year, after his association with an outspoken and controversial preacher threatened to derail his campaign.

He titled the speech “A More Perfect Union” in tribute to Lincoln, and at one point the biracial Obama said he could “no more disown my pastor than I can disown my own white grandmother, a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me,” but who also confessed her fear of black men she doesn’t know on the street.

As president, Obama tried to confront the racial element of the gun violence that often dominated the news. One victim whose death resonated with the nation was Trayvon Martin, a black teenager in Florida shot by a self-appointed watchman in a gated community. “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” the president said. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Later in his time in office, after a spate of police shootings of young black men, five Dallas policemen were killed by a sniper during an otherwise peaceful rally.

“We ask our police to do too much and ourselves to do too little,” a saddened Obama said. “It’s as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened.”

Race was surely a special preoccupation for Obama. But it has been a source of continuing discomfort — and at times excruciating conflict — for presidents since the nation was born. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” said Lincoln, almost 160 years ago. And all who preceded or followed him in office have known something of the weight of that challenge.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Kentucky Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Governor’s Powers Friday, Aug 18 2017 

Justices on Kentucky’s Supreme Court heard arguments over whether Gov. Matt Bevin had the right to overhaul the University of Louisville board of trustees last year under a law that gives the governor power to reshape state boards while the legislature isn’t in session.

Attorney General Andy Beshear sued Bevin, arguing that the little-known law doesn’t apply to state universities and that the move put U of L’s accreditation at risk because it shows that the school’s governance is subject to political influence.

The state legislature has since created a new law that gives the governor broad power to abolish or tinker with state university boards if board members misbehave.

But questions still remain over whether Bevin could continue to use the original law going forward — allowing him to unilaterally remove university board members without cause.

“I guess that’s what my concern is, if you’re saying ‘well, you’ve got two alternative routes,’” Justice Lisabeth Hughes said while questioning the governor’s general counsel Steve Pitt.

After the hearing, Pitt told reporters that governors would have to use the new law, which requires an evidentiary hearing and review by the Council on Postsecondary Education before a university board member could be removed.

“Our position is that the new specific statute would be the one that either this governor or a future governor would use in the circumstances that a board member had to be removed or a board had to be reorganized,” Pitt said.

The governor’s office also argues that the case is moot because the legislature effectively replicated Bevin’s reorganization during this year’s legislative session.

But Beshear said that Bevin has ignored state laws before and will continue to do so if the court doesn’t step in.

“Here we have two parties that have been in court four times in various courts dealing with either university control or the reorganization powers,” Beshear said during the hearing. “It’s not just capable of repetition, it’s being repeated.”

The legal challenge is the fourth lawsuit Beshear has filed against Bevin and the third dealing with the governor’s use of the reorganization law.

Bevin abolished U of L’s governing board last year, severing the four-year terms of the 15 appointed members of the panel, which he called “dysfunctional.”

Bevin then created a new board and appointed new members. Beshear sued Bevin over the move.

A lower court ruled last year that Bevin didn’t have the power to abolish the U of L board because he had violated a state law that protects removal of university board members without cause.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put U of L’s accreditation on probation late last year, citing the governor’s actions in dismissing board members.

Beshear told reporters after the hearing that if the court doesn’t rule against the governor, “then every single university, every single one in Kentucky has accreditation issues when they come up for that next accreditation.”

Pitt called that argument “poppycock.”

It’s unlikely that a ruling on the case would change the membership of U of L’s board of trustees, but could have implications for how much power the governor has to unilaterally reshape state boards.

The lawsuit is the second time Beshear and Bevin have squared off before the Supreme Court. Last year the court ruled that the governor didn’t have the authority to make mid-year budget cuts to state universities after the attorney general filed a lawsuit.

Steve Bannon Out As Chief White House Strategist Friday, Aug 18 2017 

Updated at 1:15 pm ET

Steve Bannon has lost his job as chief White House strategist.

The White House described the departure as a mutual agreement between Bannon and chief of staff John Kelly.

“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” said press secretary Sarah Sanders.

Bannon has been a larger-than-life character in Trumpworld: a right-wing provocateur whose rumpled wardrobe and radical politics belied his background at Goldman Sachs and Harvard Business School. (Bannon made a small fortune running his own investment banking firm. His compensation for one deal included a stake in residuals from the TV series Seinfeld.)

Bannon took over as Trump’s campaign chairman a year and a day ago, and he was credited with bringing much-needed focus and discipline to what had been a seat-of-the-pants operation. Bloomberg Businessweek writer Joshua Green argues that without Bannon’s skill at mobilizing disaffected white male voters, “I don’t think Donald Trump would have been elected president.”

The president, who doesn’t like sharing the spotlight, often bristled at news stories that painted Bannon as the mastermind of his unlikely 2016 victory.

“Mr. Bannon came on very late, you know that,” Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf resort on Tuesday. “I went through 17 Senators, Governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that.”

Trump offered only a half-hearted defense of his chief strategist, who has had a target on his back ever since joining the administration.

“I like him. He’s a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that,” Trump said. “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”

Long before he had a formal role in the campaign or the administration, Bannon had been a cheerleader for Trump as head of Breitbart News. Bannon took control of the website in 2012 and turned it into a platform for the “alt-right.” His nationalistic, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim views proved a good match for Trump’s.

“I’m an economic nationalist,” Bannon told the Hollywood Reporter shortly after the November election. “The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over.”

The take-no-prisoners style that was so successful during the campaign proved a liability, however, once Trump and Bannon reached the White House. The original, shock-and-awe travel ban spearheaded by Bannon was quickly rejected by federal courts. His efforts to strong-arm lawmakers into passing a repeal of the Affordable Care Act backfired. And Bannon feuded openly with other White House staffers, including Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

“Bannon really believes this stuff to a degree that’s almost scary,” Green told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I think that Trump is driven mainly by opportunism, by a desire to pursue whatever is going to get Donald Trump positive coverage on cable news now. And during the campaign, when nationalism — when Bannon’s nationalism seemed to work for him, that was what he would espouse. But when that stopped working for him in February, after he became president, he was happy to bring in people [like McMaster and Cohn] who nationalists abhor.”

Bannon raised eyebrows earlier this week when he granted an unsolicited interview to The American Prospect, a liberal magazine.

Although he was one of the few White House staffers who embraced the president’s remarks on Charlottesville, Bannon dismissed the white nationalists at the center of the violent protests as a “fringe element,” “losers,” and a “collection of clowns,” in the interview, published Wednesday.

It was a surprising comment from a man who successfully harnessed white nationalism, first at Breitbart and later in the Trump campaign.

Bannon argued it’s self-defeating for Democrats to over-play the race card.

“If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats,” Bannon told The American Prospect.

Green suspects Bannon “will keep fighting for this idea of an anti-immigrant nationalism, come hell or high water.”

But now he’ll be pursuing that agenda from outside the White House. And possibly taking aim at his former rivals on the inside.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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