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Trump Administration

White House Considering Derek Kan For Federal Reserve Board Seat



The White House is considering Derek Kan, an undersecretary at the Department of Transportation, for one of two open seats on the Federal Reserve Board, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Kan, who has been a senior adviser to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao since 2017, has served on the board of directors for Amtrak and was previously general manager of ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. He earned his MBA from Stanford University and studied economic history at the London School of Economics, according to a profile on the Department of Transportation website.

President Donald Trump has struggled to find candidates for the Fed that are acceptable to the senators who vote to confirm them. Trump has named four people for the two open seats on the board of governors. None of them has made it through the Senate, raising questions about the White House vetting process for his picks.

The White House declined immediate comment.

(Reporting by Bloomberg News)

Trump Administration

Trump Nominates Patrick Shanahan To Secretary Of Defense




Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will nominate Patrick Shanahan to be his second secretary of defense.

The former Boeing executive has been leading the Pentagon as acting secretary since Jan. 1, a highly unusual arrangement for arguably the most sensitive Cabinet position.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said “Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job.”

Shanahan, who is 56, has a depth of experience in the defense industry but little in government.

He replaced former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a retired Marine general, who quit in December after clashing with Trump over the president’s call to withdraw American troops from Syria.

By nominating former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to possibly permanently replace famed former Marine Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, President Trump may have found a like-minded advocate for the U.S. weapons industry.

Shanahan is a controversial choice. During Shanahan’s two-year stint as Mattis’s deputy defense secretary, Boeing has landed a series of lucrative military contracts worth $20 billion, on top of the Chicago company’s previous deal to build aerial-refueling tankers and naval fighters for the Pentagon.

Mattis’ resignation on Thursday came one day after Trump announced, via Twitter, that the terror group known as Islamic State is no longer a threat and the United States will withdraw all 2,000 of its troops from Syria.

Trump reportedly made his decision to quit Syria during a Dec. 14 phone call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is eager to attack Kurdish groups in northern Syria who are strong allies of the United States. “You know what? It’s yours,” Trump reportedly said of Syria. He had a similar call with Erdogan on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesperson for Shanahan, sent the following statement to the Daily Beast: “Mr. Shanahan is recused from any DoD decisions impacting Boeing, and the Department’s legal advisors have a screening process to ensure that Boeing-related issues are not routed to Mr. Shanahan. While the details of the Department’s FY2020 budget request remain pre-decisional, the screening process was in place throughout the budget review to ensure that any DoD programmatic decisions impacting Boeing were neither made nor influenced by Mr. Shanahan.”

Experts have warned that Islamic State is rebuilding in the Middle East. The Taliban likewise have gained strength in recent months. A U.S. pullout in Afghanistan could undermine peace talks with the Taliban. “I believe the Taliban will see this as a reason to stall,” said Bill Roggio, an Afghanistan analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.

In his resignation letter, Mattis rebuked Trump for his flippant treatment of America’s allies. “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held,” Mattis wrote, adding that he would stay on until February to help with a smooth transition.

It’s unclear whether Shanahan would urge Trump to be more respectful of America’s alliances. But Shanahan’s statements on ISIS, during his confirmation, seem to contradict Trump’s own position.

“I would consider success in defeating ISIS to be when the threat the group poses has been degraded to a point where it is localized and periodic and when it can be addressed as a law-enforcement issue by partner nations and forces without extensive assistance from the United States,” Shanahan said.

But in Shanahan, he does have someone who is likely to share his interest in business. Trump has ordered diplomats to prioritize foreign sales of American-made arms. “Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing,” Trump tweeted. “He will be great!”

(Reporting by Associated Press and The Daily Beast)

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Trump Administration

US Imposes New Sanctions On Iran As Tensions Escalate




WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is announcing new sanctions on Iran as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors, which provide foreign currency earnings for Iran’s crippled economy.

Earlier Wednesday, Iran threatened to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. Trump pulled out of the deal a year ago, but European and other nations stayed in.

Iran’s move comes at a sensitive moment in the region.

The White House said it dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over what it described as a new threat from Iran.

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Trump Administration

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to Step Down in May




WASHINGTON — Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, said Monday that he would leave the Justice Department in mid-May, bringing to a close a turbulent two-year tenure that was overshadowed by the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 election in favor of President Trump.

“As I submit my resignation effective on May 11, I am grateful to you for the opportunity to serve,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote in a resignation letter to Mr. Trump. Despite a stormy relationship with the president, he praised Mr. Trump in the letter, thanking him for “the courtesy and humor” he displayed in their conversations together and for championing “patriotism, unity, safety, education and prosperity” in his inaugural address.

Department officials close to Mr. Rosenstein had previously signaled that he would leave after the completion of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which was made public this month. The investigation had thrust him into a political maelstrom, challenging his reputation as a principled Republican lawyer with a distaste for politics that had been honed over 30 years as a federal prosecutor and United States attorney.

He responded by trying to thread a needle, striving to preserve the rule of law and protect one of the department’s most important investigations while publicly praising a president who he knew was determined to undermine both. It meant Mr. Rosenstein often disappointed critics on the left and the right.

The balancing act began almost immediately after Mr. Rosenstein’s confirmation as the No. 2 Justice Department official in April 2017. Two weeks later, Mr. Trump used a memo written by Mr. Rosenstein as a pretext to abruptly fire James B. Comey, the director of the F.B.I., a decision that privately upset Mr. Rosenstein because it was not true. When the president asked Mr. Rosenstein to publicly take responsibility for Mr. Comey’s firing, he declined and told Mr. Trump that he would not lie.

Amid public outrage over the firing, Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller to take over the F.B.I.’s investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and what part any members of the Trump campaign may have played in those efforts, as well as whether the president tried to obstruct the investigation.

He then oversaw Mr. Mueller’s work because Jeff Sessions, a former Trump campaign adviser and the attorney general at the time, had recused himself from all campaign-related inquiries.

He did not use his oversight of the special counsel’s office to veto Mr. Mueller’s investigative requests or suppress his work, which he knew the president would have wanted. But throughout the investigation, and Mr. Trump’s efforts to end the inquiry and attack the department, he publicly praised the president as a defender of the rule of law.

His job was at times threatened as the Russia investigation drew closer to Mr. Trump’s inner circle and the president worked publicly and privately to undermine the department and its officials. And he was nearly fired in September, after The New York Times revealed that he had discussed the possibility of removing Mr. Trump from office and wearing a wire into meetings with the president.

But Mr. Rosenstein managed to get back into Mr. Trump’s good graces and see the special counsel’s investigation through to the end.

Mr. Mueller ultimately concluded that Russia interfered in the election to help Mr. Trump win, but that while the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” it had not conspired with the Russian government.

Mr. Mueller also laid out several instances where Mr. Trump attempted to derail the investigation, but he ultimately allowed department officials to decide whether those amounted to obstruction of justice. Mr. Rosenstein and Attorney General William P. Barr said they did not believe there was enough evidence to bring those charges.

Mr. Rosenstein “has navigated many challenging situations with strength, grace and good humor,” Mr. Barr said in a statement Monday. “Rod has been an invaluable partner to me during my return to the department, and I have relied heavily on his leadership and judgment over the past several months.”

Mr. Trump had already nominated Jeffrey A. Rosen, the current deputy transportation secretary, to replace Mr. Rosenstein. With a Republican majority in the Senate, Mr. Rosen is expected to be confirmed next month with little trouble.

Officials had indicated that Mr. Rosenstein would leave the department in March, when they also expected the Mueller investigation to end. But Mr. Mueller and his team did not submit their final report to the department until March 22, and a redacted version was not made public until this month, delaying Mr. Rosenstein’s departure.

(Reporting By New York Times)

Read Rod Rosenstein’s full official letter of resignation below:

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