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.
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George HW Bush has died
George Herbert Walker Bush, the linchpin of an American political dynasty whose presidency saw the end of the Cold War and the close of an era of American bipartisanship that conflict fostered, has died. He was 94.
During his single term in the White House, the Berlin Wall fell, newly democratic states sprang up across Central and Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union came to an end. And in the Middle East, the U.S. military launched its most successful offensive since World War II. For a time, Bush rode foreign policy triumphs to high popularity. But he saw his standing plunge during a 1990s recession and lost to Bill Clinton after one term.
On April 22nd President Bush was admitted to the Houston Methodist Hospital after contracting an infection that spread to his blood. He was said to have been responding to treatments and appeared to be recovering.
Court Orders White House to give Jim Acosta his hard pass back
Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly sided with CNN on Friday, ordering the White House to reinstate chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass.
The ruling was an initial victory for CNN in its lawsuit against President Trump and several top aides.
The lawsuit alleges that CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated by the suspension of Acosta’s press pass.
Kelly did not rule on the underlying case on Friday. But he granted CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order.
This result means that Acosta will have his access to the White House restored for at least a short period of time. The judge said while explaining his decision that he believes that CNN and Acosta are likely to prevail in the case overall.
CNN is also asking for “permanent relief,” meaning a declaration from the judge that Trump’s revocation of Acosta’s press pass was unconstitutional. This legal conclusion could protect other reporters from retaliation by the administration.
“The revocation of Acosta’s credentials is only the beginning,” CNN’s lawsuit alleged, pointing out that Trump has threatened to strip others’ press passes too.
That is one of the reasons why most of the country’s major news organizations have backed CNN’s lawsuit, turning this into an important test of press freedom.
But the judge will rule on all of that later. Further hearings are likely to take place in the next few weeks, according to CNN’s lawyers.
CNN sues President Trump for banning reporter Jim Acosta
CNN is filing a lawsuit against President Trump and several of his aides, seeking the immediate restoration of chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s access to the White House.
The lawsuit is a response to the White House’s suspension of Acosta’s press pass, known as a Secret Service “hard pass,” last week. The suit alleges that Acosta and CNN’s First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated by the ban.
The suit is being filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning, a CNN spokeswoman confirmed.
Both CNN and Acosta are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. There are six defendants: Trump, chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Sanders, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, Secret Service director Joseph Clancy, and the Secret Service officer who took Acosta’s hard pass away last Wednesday. The officer is identified as John Doe in the suit, pending his identification.
The six defendants are all named because of their roles in enforcing and announcing Acosta’s suspension.
Last Wednesday, shortly after Acosta was denied entry to the White House grounds, Sanders defended the unprecedented step by claiming that he had behaved inappropriately at a presidential news conference. CNN and numerous journalism advocacy groups rejected that assertion and said his pass should be reinstated.
On Friday, CNN sent a letter to the White House formally requesting the immediate reinstatement of Acosta’s pass and warning of a possible lawsuit, the network confirmed.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, CNN said it is seeking a preliminary injunction as soon as possible so that Acosta can return to the White House right away, and a ruling from the court preventing the White House from revoking Acosta’s pass in the future.
“CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration this morning in DC District Court,” the statement read. “It demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”
CNN also asserted that other news organizations could have been targeted by the Trump administration this way, and could be in the future.
“While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone,” the network said. “If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”
Acosta has continued to do part of his job, contacting sources and filing stories, but he has been unable to attend White House events or ask questions in person — a basic part of any White House correspondent’s role.
Acosta is on a previously scheduled vacation this week. He declined to comment on the lawsuit.
On CNN’s side, CNN Worldwide chief counsel David Vigilante is joined by two prominent attorneys, Ted Boutrous and Theodore Olson. Both men are partners at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Last week, before he was retained by CNN, Boutrous tweeted that the action against Acosta “clearly violates the First Amendment.” He cited the Sherrill case.
“This sort of angry, irrational, false, arbitrary, capricious content-based discrimination regarding a White House press credential against a journalist quite clearly violates the First Amendment,” he wrote.
David McCraw, the top newsroom lawyer at The New York Times, said instances of news organizations suing a president are extremely rare.
Past examples are The New York Times v. U.S., the famous Supreme Court case involving the Pentagon Papers in 1971; and CNN’s 1981 case against the White House and the broadcast networks, when CNN sued to be included in the White House press pool.
The backdrop to this new suit, of course, is Trump’s antipathy for CNN and other news outlets. He regularly derides reporters from CNN and the network as a whole.
Abrams posited on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday that CNN might be reluctant to sue because the president already likes to portray the network as his enemy. Now there will be a legal case titled CNN Inc. versus President Trump.
But, Abrams said, “this is going to happen again,” meaning other reporters may be banned too.
“Whether it’s CNN suing or the next company suing, someone’s going to have to bring a lawsuit,” he said, “and whoever does is going to win unless there’s some sort of reason.”
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