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Rex Tillerson fired: Trump replaces secretary of state with CIA director

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Trump tweets CIA director Mike Pompeo will be top diplomat and names Gina Haspel as first female director of agency

Donald Trump has sacked his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and announced his intention to replace him with the CIA director Mike Pompeo.

Related: Russian spy attack: UK encouraged by support from allies, says Johnson

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/13/rex-tillerson-fired-donald-trump

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Trump attacks Democrats for obstruction on appointees

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President Donald Trump on Sunday blamed Senate Democrats for the dearth of experts at the State Department, ignoring the department’s high turnover and the number of positions for which there is no nominee.

“The Democrats continue to Obstruct the confirmation of hundreds of good and talented people who are needed to run our government … A record in U.S. history. State Department, Ambassadors and many others are being slow walked. Senate must approve NOW,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The lack of experts at the State Department is receiving renewed attention after the announcement that Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may meet for a possible historic summit. Their talks, which would be the first time in history a sitting U.S. president met with the country’s leader, could even include discussion of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, potentially accomplishing a long-held goal of getting North Korea to give up its nation’s prized weapons program.

Despite the March 8 announcement of the possible talks, the U.S. currently does not have people in a number of key roles. Trump has not named an ambassador to South Korea and the U.S. special envoy to North Korea resigned late last month. Along with the South Korea opening, Trump has yet to name an ambassador to the European Union. The president is correct in claiming that some of ambassador picks have been held up, including Richard Grenell, a former spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, who he tapped to be U.S. ambassador to Germany.

POLITICO has previously reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is hollowing out the State Department by leaving other top positions unfilled amid a wave of retirements, although the secretary has scaled back those efforts.

Later on Sunday, Trump blamed the media for downplaying his approval ratings.

“Rasmussen and others have my approval ratings at around 50%, which is higher than Obama, and yet the political pundits love saying my approval ratings are “somewhat low.” They know they are lying when they say it. Turn off the show – FAKE NEWS!,” he wrote on Twitter, although the most recent edition of Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll pegged Trump’s approval rating at 44 percent of likely voters.

The Real Clear Politics polling average has the president’s approval rating at just shy of 41 percent. Some polling experts have claimed that the method of the poll has an effect on the outcome, but that opinion is not universal.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/11/trump-blames-democrats-state-department-vacancies-454408

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Trump sent personal letter to Putin inviting him to Miss Universe pageant: Report

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Sessions criticizes federal judges for slowing Trump’s national agenda

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Saturday railed against federal judges for impeding President Donald Trump’s national agenda, telling students at a conservative gathering that a handful of judges are making themselves “super legislators” by authoring sweeping decisions in the heat of legal fights.

“In truth, this is a question of raw power — of who gets to decide the policy questions facing America: our elected representatives, our elected president or unelected lifetime-appointed federal judges,” Sessions told the Federalist Society’s 2018 National Student Symposium at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington.

On topics like Trump’s proposed travel ban and the ending of an Obama-era immigration program, Sessions complained that a single federal judge is able to issue a nationwide ruling that stops the administration in its tracks. Known as a nationwide injunction, such a ruling applies beyond the particular people involved in a case and remains in force even when another federal court sides with the administration. Such a split occurred this past week when a federal judge in Maryland upheld Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but because of an earlier injunction from federal judges in California and New York, parts of the program remain in place.

Trump is not the first president to face such legal hurdles, which Sessions said is not a partisan issue since it affected former President Barrack Obama, too.

A former conservative stalwart in the Senate, the attorney general acknowledged that some Republicans sought similar legal battles on friendly turf, in states like Texas, during Obama’s time in office, in a process known as forum shopping. But with Trump now in the White House, it is liberals who are hoping for advantages in places like California and Hawaii. The Obama administration failed to convince the Louisiana-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down an injunction against DACA with a similar argument.

The Supreme Court has not weighed in definitely on the topic of nationwide injunctions; instead justices have ruled on the particulars of a specific case. But Sessions is optimistic that the highest court in the land will soon issue a brush back to would-be legal resisters. A federal appeals court can overturn or limit the scope of an injunction.

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will soon send a clear message to the lower courts that injunctions ought to be limited to the parties of the case,” he said.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/10/jeff-sessions-federal-judges-trump-agenda-453116

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Government advising New Jersey town on ferry service to Kushner resort

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Long Branch city and transit officials working to get more funds for pier and ferry service to resort co-owned by Kushner

The federal government has been advising a beach town on the Jersey Shore on plans to build a pier and start a ferry service that would speed New Yorkers to the doorstep of a resort co-owned by Jared Kushner.

Related: Christie: Trump’s reliance on family hurts ability to run White House

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/09/government-advising-new-jersey-town-on-ferry-service-to-kushner-resort