Top News Stories for Today – Aug 1, 2017
Scaramucci out as WH communications director
President Trump on Monday removed Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, ending a tumultuous tenure in the West Wing that lasted just 10 days. The brash former hedge fund manager lost his job on the same day that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly assumed his new role as Trump’s chief of staff. The White House cast the move as Scaramucci’s decision. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that “he felt it was best to give chief of staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.”
But speaking to reporters later at a press briefing, Sanders suggested the president made the call to force him out, calling his exit the result of a “mutually agreed conversation that took place between several people.” Scaramucci’s quick ouster is being seen as a sign that Kelly could have more power in the chief of staff role than his predecessor, Reince Priebus, ever did. The Hill
Venezuelan president mocks Trump
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shrugged off US sanctions imposed on him Monday in response to Sunday’s election in Venezuela for a new legislative assembly that has the power to rewrite the country’s constitution. The election has been called a sham by several world leaders and the Venezuelan opposition.
The sanctions freeze all of Maduro’s assets subjects to US jurisdiction and ban Americans from doing business with him. Maduro said the US has “hatred” for his government, and had a pointed message for President Trump. “In the United States, it’s possible to become president with 3 million votes less than your opponent,” he said. “What a tremendous democracy!” Reuters, The Week
China blames US for N Korea’s military buildup
China hit back Monday at a Twitter rant from President Trump over trade and the North Korea crisis, saying the two issues should not be linked and the US is to blame for Pyongyang’s military buildup. Chinese vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said “We think the North Korea nuclear issue and China-US trade … are in two completely different domains, they aren’t related. They should not be discussed together.”
Qian added trade between China and the US has been beneficial to both nations despite a US trade deficit with China that reached almost $350 billion last year. China’s state-run news agency Xinhua published an editorial Monday saying China is “actively working with the US side to explore ways to restore the trade balance.” It blamed the North Korea nuclear issue on “the decades-long animosity” between Pyongyang and Washington. USA Today
Trump drops to new low in Rasmussen poll
President Trump’s approval rating has dropped to a new low, according to a conservative-leaning pollster that has consistently given Trump better marks than other polls. Trump’s approval fell to 39 percent Monday, according to Rasmussen Reports — the first time his approval has dipped below 40 percent in the conservative poll. The poll showed him with a disapproval rating of 61 percent.
The conservative poll has generally shown approval ratings higher than those of other surveys, but the new poll places it in line with the findings of other surveys like Gallup, which has Trump’s approval at 38 percent. Rasmussen Report, The Hill
Poll shows support for health law splits down party lines
A majority of Americans want members of Congress to ditch health care reform efforts and focus their attention elsewhere, according to a Reuters/Iposos poll conducted after the Senate Republicans’ effort crashed early Friday. The new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans want to keep the 2010 health care law, either “entirely as is” or after reforming “problem areas.” This was an increase from January, when just over half of Americans agreed with that sentiment.
The poll, conducted Friday and Saturday, surveyed more than 1,130 Americans, including 381 Republicans and 475 Democrats, following the collapse of health care reform in the Senate. Results showed that support for the Affordable Care Act still splits down party lines. While nine out of 10 Democrats said they wanted to keep or modify the 2010 law, only three out of 10 Republicans said the same. Republicans have campaigned on dismantling the Affordable Care Act since it was passed in 2010. Roll Call
John Kelly sworn in as White House chief of staff
On Monday morning, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly was sworn in as President Trump’s second chief of staff. Kelly, who was previously serving as homeland security secretary, replaces the ousted Reince Priebus. After Kelly’s swearing-in ceremony, Trump told reporters that he has “no doubt” that Kelly will do a “spectacular job” in the role and praised Kelly’s “record-shattering” tenure at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump reportedly hopes Kelly will impose military discipline on a chaotic and leaky White House, but because the general has no policy experience, the legislative duties of the job may fall more heavily on Vice President Mike Pence. CBS News, The Week
First American woman conquers K2
Vanessa O’Brien has become the first American woman to summit K2, the world’s second highest mountain at 8,611 meters. The 52-year-old former banker from New York led a 12-member team of international climbers and planted the US flag on top of K2 on July 28.
The mountain is located at Pakistan’s border with China and considered one of the world’s most dangerous peaks for climbers. The first male American team conquered “the savage mountain” 39 years ago. This was O’Brien’s third attempt at K2 after having been unsuccessful in 2015 and in 2016. It took O’Brien’s team 16 hours from CAMP-4 at 7681 meters to the top, a very long time, but the weather held.
Pence talks tough on Russian aggression
Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday assured US commitment to the Baltic states in the face of Russian aggression. Speaking in Tallinn, Estonia, on the first stop of a four-day tour, Pence said Moscow’s “destabilizing activities, its support for rogue regimes, its activities in Ukraine, are unacceptable.”
President Trump has been unclear in the past about where he draws the line with Russia. Pence’s comments followed Trump’s decision to sign a Russian sanctions bill, and Russia’s retaliatory expulsion of 755 American diplomats. “While our policy is America-first, it’s not America-alone,” Pence said. He will also visit Georgia and Montenegro on his trip abroad. The Washington Post, The Week
LA set to announce it will host in 2028 Olympic
Los Angeles is set to announce it will host the 2028 Olympic Games, meaning Paris will stage the 2024 edition. In June, the International Olympic Committee voted to name hosts for successive Games – with just Paris and Los Angeles bidding – but it was unclear which would host in which year. Both cities had wanted to host the 2024 event.
But at a news conference scheduled on Tuesday, the LA bid will announce it has agreed to host in 2028. A source close to the negotiations told BBC Sport that for LA to have accepted the 2028 Games there will have had to have been significant financial benefits that outweigh the benefit of hosting in 2024. The International Olympic Committee wanted LA and Paris to reach an agreement by September and had they not, a vote to select the 2024 host would have been held. The two cities were the only ones left in the race for 2024 after Budapest, Hamburg and Rome withdrew. BBC
Trump dictated misleading statement on Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting
President Trump personally dictated the statement regarding his son Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, saying they “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,” several people with knowledge of the incident told The Washington Post Monday.
This statement, sent to The New York Times before it ran a story about the meeting, was misleading, and it came out after more reporting that Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting after being told the lawyer had damaging information about Hillary Clinton, courtesy of the Russian government. Several of the president’s advisers are now worried that he could be accused of covering up the meeting’s true agenda, the Post reports. The Washington Post, The Week
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