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Trump Signs Executive Order Aimed At Reforming Policing, Falling Short Of Protesters’ Demands

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(Washington Post) — President Trump on Tuesday addressed the issue of police brutality by taking executive action that would provide incentives for police departments to increase training about the use of force and to strengthen a national database to track misconduct.

The president’s approach, which he announced at a Rose Garden event Tuesday afternoon, seeks to leverage federal grant money to encourage local departments to take action around a set of national “best practices.”

But it falls short of the more sweeping policy changes activists have called for following the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis last month.

“Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals,” Trump said in the Rose Garden. “They are not mutually exclusive. They work together. … That is why today I’m signing an executive order encouraging police departments nationwide to adopt the highest professional standards to serve their communities. These standards will be as high and as strong as there is on Earth.”

Trump said that just prior to the announcement, he had met with with family members of several black people who have been killed by police, including Atatiana Jefferson, Jemel Roberson, Michael Dean and others.

“To all of the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourned by your side,” Trump said. “Your loved ones will not have died in vain.”

The executive action comes as Republican congressional leaders signaled Monday that legislative reforms to overhaul police practices could slip beyond this month. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 GOP leader, said it was “probably unlikely” that the Senate will take up the police package before the July 4 recess.

The Senate GOP package, being primarily drafted by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only Republican senator who is African American, is expected to be released later this week. Though it is not expected to explicitly bar the use of chokeholds, as the House Democratic plan does, it attempts to discourage the practice by withholding federal funds to police agencies that allow them, according to two Senate GOP officials who spoke anonymously to describe legislation that is not yet public.

Trump aides emphasized Monday that the president remains opposed to any legislation that would end qualified immunity for police officers.

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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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