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Evaluating Trump's Afghanistan Plan

Aug 26, 2017

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A storm of breaking news overnight. We just don't mean Hurricane Harvey. Presidential pardon, another White House aide departs, a week of fiery rhetoric and explicit threats. NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

If you picked up a print copy of The New York Times on Friday, you may have noticed something unusual about it — something missing. There were no front-page headlines about President Trump, no pictures of him — not even a little "key" to a story on an inside page.

The name Trump did appear in one story, a profile of John W. Nicholson Jr., the Army general commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The president was necessarily mentioned in that story, but the story was not about the president.

Controversial White House counterterrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka is out of his job, following the departure of his former boss, chief strategist Steve Bannon.

A White House official denied reports that Gorka had resigned on Friday night but confirmed that he "no longer works at the White House."

Gorka became known for his confrontational style and has fought accusations about his credentials and potential ties to extremist groups.

President Trump has pardoned controversial former Sheriff Joe Arpaio for a misdemeanor criminal contempt conviction.

A statement issued by the White House Friday night said, "Today, President Donald J. Trump granted a Presidential pardon to Joe Arpaio, former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona."

Known as "America's Toughest Sheriff," Arpaio gained a reputation for his harsh — his critics would say cruel — treatment of immigrants in the country illegally.

Hurricane Harvey is the first test of the Trump administration's response to a natural disaster. And much of that responsibility falls on the shoulder of the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, William "Brock" Long.

Long was confirmed as FEMA administrator by the Senate in June, just a few months ago, but he is not exactly a stranger to the agency. He was a regional manager there during the George W. Bush administration, and he went on to serve as Alabama's emergency management director.

"Top of the top"

Updated at 7:25 p.m.

President Trump has signed a memo implementing his new policy on transgender people serving in the armed forces.

A senior White House official told reporters that no transgender individuals will be allowed to join the armed services unless and until the secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security recommend otherwise.

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Congress and the Trump administration could boost insurance coverage by a couple of million people and lower premiums by taking a few actions to stabilize the Affordable Care Act insurance markets, according to a new analysis by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

Aug 25, 2017

President Trump has had his quiet weeks since taking office.

This wasn’t one of them.

Friday News Roundup - International

Aug 25, 2017

What’s President Trump’s strategy for winning the war in Afghanistan? A lot of people are still uncertain, even after a lengthy, televised address by the U.S. president on the way forward this week. Plus, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner travels to the Middle East to talk democracy with the Egyptian president and peace between Israel and Palestine.

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The interim communications director at the White House has been notably quiet. That's by design. Hope Hicks took the job almost 10 days ago. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith has this profile.

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Now to discuss the week in politics, we have two analysts here in our studios at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Leon Krauze is an author and Univision anchor. Welcome to the program.

LEON KRAUZE: Good to be with you, Ari.

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President Trump - wow - was in full attack mode this week.

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Each day, the fallout continues from President Trump's statements about both sides contributing to the racial violence in Charlottesville. So far, around 20 charities have pulled out of events at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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A judge in Washington, D.C., has approved a government request to access data from a website used to organize protests against President Trump's inauguration — with the caveat that the Department of Justice must establish "additional protections" to safeguard users' privacy and right to free speech.

With the federal government getting closer to running out of cash to cover all bills on time, companies that evaluate bonds are having to consider how to rate America's creditworthiness.

And their job didn't get any easier on Thursday when President Trump continued his attacks on congressional leaders over their failure to raise the federal debt ceiling.

Other U.S. officials have been trying reassure the financial markets that no default is imminent.

Keeping House At HUD

Aug 24, 2017

A new article about the department of Housing and Urban Development called “Is Anybody Home At HUD?” says:

“HUD has long been something of an overlooked stepchild within the federal government. Founded in 1965 in a burst of Great Society resolve to confront the “urban crisis,” it has seen its manpower slide by more than half since the Reagan Revolution.”

Fully 12 percent of people who voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries voted for President Trump in the general election. That is according to the data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study — a massive election survey of around 50,000 people. (For perspective, a run-of-the-mill survey measuring Trump's job approval right now has a sample of 800 to 1,500.)

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President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do not seem to be on the best terms these days.

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No. Trump has been making digs at McConnell ever since he failed to pass a Republican health care bill last month. And McConnell responded.

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So when it comes to the White House banning transgender people serving in the U.S. military, a key word they are using is deployability.

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Updated at 1:08 p.m. ET Aug. 24

Congress could authorize "top secret" security clearances for each state's chief election official to help protect voting systems from cyberattacks and other potential meddling.

That provision, which was part of the Senate Intelligence Committee's 2018 policy bill for U.S. spy agencies, is one of the first concrete steps that lawmakers have taken to try to defend future elections from the sort of foreign interference that plagued the 2016 presidential race.

Updated 10 a.m. ET

Escalating tension between Capitol Hill and the White House is threatening the GOP's legislative agenda and testing the bonds of party unity under the Trump administration.

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