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Steve Bannon leaves Breitbart after expressing ‘regret’ over Trump remarks

Ex-White House strategist stepped down from the news website less than a week after book excerpts showing his criticisms of Trump were made public

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Steve Bannon leaves Breitbart after expressing ‘regret’ over Trump remarks” was written by Ben Jacobs in Washington, for The Guardian on Tuesday 9th January 2018 21.51 UTC

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon stepped down from his position at Breitbart News on Tuesday, less than a week after he excoriated Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr in book excerpts obtained by the Guardian, and days after he expressed “regret” over those remarks.

Bannon criticized Trump in the bestselling book Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, and publication of those remarks caused a rancorous split with the president. His comments, which included a statement calling Donald Trump Jr’s behavior in 2016 meeting with Russians “treasonous”, sparked a ferocious response from the White House.

In a statement last week, Trump said: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” Not long afterward, he dubbed Bannon “Sloppy Steve” in a series of tweets. Trump’s lawyers later sent Bannon a cease and desist letter, and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Breitbart should “consider” ousting Bannon.

In a story posted on Breitbart’s website without a byline, it was announced “Stephen K Bannon has stepped down from Breitbart News Network, where he served as Executive Chairman since 2012. Bannon and Breitbart will work together on a smooth and orderly transition.”

The story also included a quote from Bannon, who did not respond to a request for comment from the Guardian. “I’m proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform,” he said in the post.

Bannon rejoined Breitbart in August 2017, a year after he had taken leave from the website to become chief strategist for Trump’s then-flailing presidential campaign. He impressed Trump by steering his campaign through its deepest crisis, when the Access Hollywood tapes revealed the Republican nominee boasting about sexually assaulting women. Later, in the White House, he played a key role early in Trump’s administration push for controversial policies, such as a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries and the United States’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

When Bannon returned to Breitbart, he initially celebrated the reunion. In an interview with the Weekly Standard that month, he said: “Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt.”

The president also praised his former strategist at the time, tweeting: “Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews … maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!”

But since his return, Bannon has increasingly felt pressed to choose between politics and Breitbart. He chose the former, apparently because of the effect his campaign work was having on Breitbart as a news organization. In recent months, the former White House aide had actively endorsed several insurgent Republican candidates, including Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who ran a successful primary against a Republican and a failed general election against a Democrat, Doug Jones.

Already controversial in Alabama, Moore lost after a number of women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him. The president, who also endorsed Moore in the general election, saddled Bannon with the blame for Moore’s defeat.

What effect Bannon’s departure will have on Breitbart remains unclear. After the 2012 death of its founder, Andrew Breitbart, Bannon molded its editorial vision to match his nationalist views. During his absence and under the leadership of editor-in-chief Alex Marlow, the site took what was perceived be a slightly more subdued tone. Bannon’s departure may also lead to the website cutting costs. as it had long paid a premium attract to journalists to work for the controversial site.

The announcement on Breitbart’s website.
The announcement on Breitbart’s website. Photograph: Breitbart

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DON LEMON CUTS MIC ON PANELIST

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CNN’s Don Lemon cut conservative radio host John Fredericks’ mic off during a panel discussion on President Trump’s reported comments criticizing immigrants coming to the US from what he called “shithole countries.”

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Donald Trump visit to London called off amid fears of mass protests

President will not now open new US embassy next month, with secretary of state Rex Tillerson likely to take his place

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Donald Trump cancels London visit amid protest fears” was written by Heather Stewart Political editor, and David Smith in Washington, for The Guardian on Friday 12th January 2018 09.49 UTC

Donald Trump has cancelled a visit to Britain next month to open the new US embassy in London, amid fears of mass protests.

The president claimed on Twitter that the reason for calling off the trip was his displeasure at Barack Obama having sold the current embassy for “peanuts” and built a replacement for bn (£750m). “Bad deal,” he wrote.

But the embassy’s plan to move from Mayfair to Nine Elms in London was first reported in October 2008, when George W Bush was still president.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said Trump had “got the message” that many Londoners staunchly opposed his policies and actions.

“It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance,” Khan said on Friday.

“His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests. This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place.”

The prime minister invited Trump for a state visit when she became the first world leader to visit the president in the White House a year ago. Activists immediately pledged to stage protests and MPs have said they would not give the president the opportunity to address parliament.

Asked about Trump’s cancellation, a Downing Street spokesman repeated the government’s longstanding position that “an invitation has been extended and accepted, but no date has been set”.

The White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: “The invitation was made and has been accepted we are still working to finalise a date.”

Instead of a state visit, it had been expected that Trump would make a brief, less formal “working visit” in February to cut the ribbon on the embassy in south-west London, and hold meetings with May. Officials had also been examining plans for the president to meet the Queen without the pomp of a full-blown state banquet.

Government sources suggested Washington had signalled that the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, would instead open the embassy.

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
Rex Tillerson.

Trump confirmed on Twitter late on Thursday night that the trip was off. “Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars,” he wrote just before midnight local time. “Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”

Citing security and environmental reasons, the US state department agreed to sell the current embassy building in Grosvenor Square to the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co, which plans to turn it into a luxury hotel. Estimates put the site’s value at £500m before it was made a listed building, which would have diminished the value because of restrictions on development.

Embassy locations

British relations with the president hit a low late last year when May criticised his decision to retweet videos posted by the far-right extremist group Britain First.

Trump responded by tweeting directly to the prime minister that she should focus on tackling domestic terrorism.

The government was so concerned about his decision to share the videos that Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, took the rare step of raising the issue directly with the White House.

Trump’s ambassador to London, Woody Johnson, subsequently insisted: “The president and the prime minister have a very, very good relationship. I know the president admires and respects the prime minister greatly.”

May’s government has been keen to strike up a close relationship with the Trump administration despite his erratic behaviour, because of Britain’s desire to strike a swift trade deal with the world’s largest economy when it leaves the European Union.

Trump has sparked alarm among diplomats by repeatedly entering into Twitter spats with key public figures, including the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to whom he recently boasted about the size of the US nuclear arsenal.

The White House has been rocked in recent days by the revelations in an explosive book, Fire and Fury, by the US journalist Michael Wolff, who suggested senior figures in the administration questioned the president’s fitness for office.

Asked about the revelations last weekend, May said she believed they were not serious, and Trump was a man making decisions “in the interests of the United States”.

Trump faced fresh criticism on Thursday night after the Washington Post reported that he had questioned planned changes to immigration rules, asking colleagues why the US had to welcome arrivals from “shithole countries”.

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North Korea: Trump open to talks but will apply ‘maximum pressure’

  • President wants talks ‘at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances
  • White House confirms details of phone call with South Korean leader
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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “North Korea: Trump promises ‘peace through strength’ and denies strike plan” was written by Julian Borger in Washington Justin McCurry in Tokyo, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 10th January 2018 22.00 UTC

Donald Trump has promised “peace through strength” on the Korean peninsula, reportedly telling his South Korean counterpart that no US military action against Pyongyang is being contemplated while diplomacy is under way.

In a phone call with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, on Wednesday, Trump expressed his openness to talks with North Korea “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances” according to a short White House account of the meeting, which gave no further details. The Trump administration has previously sent mixed signals on its preconditions before beginning a dialogue with the regime.

Speaking at the White House, Trump shrugged off reports in the press suggesting his administration was considering punitive air strikes against North Korea to show it is serious about curbing Pyongyang’s development of nuclear and missile capabilities.

Stressing his commitment to military spending, Trump said: “We are going to have peace through strength.”

He added: “I think we’re going to have a long period of peace. I hope we do. We have certainly problems with North Korea but a lot of good talks are going on right now – a lot of good energy. I like it very much .”

According to a South Korean government spokesman, Trump promised Moon there would be no military action “of any kind” while the dialogue continued between the two Koreas. That dialogue restarted on Tuesday, after a break of two years, in talks in the border village of Panmunjoin, which resulted in North Korean regime agreeing to send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Moon briefed Trump on the Panmunjoin talks and went out of his way to thank Trump for his policy of imposing “maximum pressure” on North Korea.

“I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, and I want to show my gratitude,” he told reporters in Seoul. “It could be the result of US-led sanctions and pressure.”

In his version of his conversation with Moon, Trump also emphasised his owned role in creating conditions for the talks to occur.

“He’s very thankful for what we’ve done. It was so reported today that … without our attitude, that would have never happened,” Trump told reporters. “Who knows where it leads. Hopefully, it will lead to success for the world – not just for our country, but for the world. And we’ll be seeing over the next number of weeks and months what happens.”

In their telephone conversation on Wednesday, Trump also told Moon that vice-president Mike Pence would lead the US delegation to the Olympic Games, the White House said.

En route to South Korea, Pence will also travel to Alaska to review ballistic missile defense facilities, the White House said.

Moon’s praise for Trump is being seen as an attempt to ease US concerns that the recent thaw in cross-border ties could drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

On Tuesday, North Korea agreed to send a large delegation to the Games, which open in Pyeongchang on 9 February. The two sides also agreed to hold military talks in an attempt to prevent an accidental conflict on the peninsula.

While Moon has been more open to the idea of engagement than either of his two conservative predecessors, he said Seoul and Washington shared a common aim: the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

“This initial round of talks is for the improvement of relations between North and South Korea,” he said. “Our task going forward is to draw North Korea to talks aimed at the denuclearisation of the North. That is our basic stance, and that will never be given up.”

He added: “We cannot say talks are the sole answer. If North Korea engages in provocations again or does not show sincerity in resolving this issue, the international community will continue applying strong pressure and sanctions.”

Moon said he was open to meeting his counterpart, Kim Jong-un, but he would not engage in “talks for the sake of talks”.

“To hold a summit, the right conditions must be created and certain outcomes must be guaranteed,” he said.

Lee Woo-young, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Moon had been right to praise Trump.

“By doing that, he can help the US build logic for moving toward negotiations and turning around the state of affairs in the future, so when they were ready to talk to the North, they can say the North came out of isolation because the sanctions were effective,” he said.

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