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Steve Bannon: Donald Trump Jr was not ‘treasonous’ – I meant Paul Manafort

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Steve Bannon: Donald Trump Jr was not ‘treasonous’ – I meant Paul Manafort” was written by Jon Swaine, for theguardian.com on Sunday 7th January 2018 19.25 UTC

Steve Bannon on Sunday withdrew his allegation that Donald Trump Jr committed treason, as he expressed regret over his role in the controversy around an explosive book about the White House.

The Guardian revealed last week that Bannon, formerly Trump’s chief strategist, said a Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr and Russians during the 2016 presidential election campaign was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.

In his statement given to the Guardian and other outlets on Sunday, Bannon did not apologise for any of his remarks to the author Michael Wolff, which included strident criticisms of the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump – whom he called “dumb as a brick” – and her husband, Jared Kushner.

But he said he should have been quicker to clarify that his remarks about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower referred to Trump’s then campaign chairman, who was also present.

“My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate,” Bannon said. “He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr.”

Declaring Trump Jr to be “both a patriot and a good man”, Bannon added: “I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”

In the Wolff book, Bannon is also quoted as saying the inquiry into Russian election interference led by special counsel Robert Mueller would “crack Don Jr like an egg on national TV”.

Bannon issued his statement after coming under sharp criticism from Trump and his allies and losing the support of major Republican donors.

Following the publication of the remarks in Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the president claimed Bannon had “lost his mind” when he was fired from the White House last summer. Trump also lambasted Bannon on Twitter as “Sloppy Steve” who “cried when he got fired and begged for his job” and “has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone”.

In an interview with CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Stephen Miller, a senior White House official, described Bannon’s statements as “grotesque” and “out of touch with reality”.

Trump Jr agreed to the meeting with Russians including Natalia Veselnitskaya, a well-connected lawyer, after being promised documents that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton, his father’s Democratic opponent.

The meeting, which was also attended by Kushner, is being investigated by Mueller, who is looking into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow during the election campaign.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, ordered a covert operation to help Trump win.

“There was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt,” Bannon said. “I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”

The statement issued also contained an extraordinary explanation for Bannon’s remark that the Trump Tower meeting had been “treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit”.

He said: “My comments about the meeting with Russian nationals came from my life experiences as a naval officer stationed aboard a destroyer whose main mission was to hunt Soviet submarines to my time at the Pentagon during the Reagan years, when our focus was the defeat of ‘the evil empire’, and to making films about Reagan’s war against the Soviets and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in selling uranium to them.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow

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The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.

The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan. 

The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.

In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.

Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.

“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”

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Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President

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(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.

Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.

Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.

It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.

Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.

Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.

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California Governor Formally Appoints Alex Padilla To Fill US Senate Seat Vacated By Kamala Harris

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(CNN) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to the US Senate today, according to a press release from the governor’s office. 

Padilla formally resigned as Secretary of State this morning and Gov. Newsom also submitted his nomination letter for Assembly member Shirley Weber to replace him. The Deputy Secretary of State, James Schwab, will be the Acting Secretary of State.

“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history,” said Gov. Newsom.

“I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people,” Padilla wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.

Some context: Earlier today, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally resigned her seat as one of California’s US Senators. She’ll be inaugurated as vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In a farewell addressed posted to Twitter, Harris said, “Of course, I’m not saying goodbye. In many ways, I’m now saying hello as your vice president.”

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