Through The Smog: Last Week’s Stories You Might’ve Missed
Steve Bannon Is Consolidating Power
Steve Bannon, ex-Breitbart Chairman, is clearly the driving force running Donald Trump’s presidency. And his power within the administration is growing by the day.
On Saturday, President Trump reorganized the National Security Council, by elevating Bannon to a position on its Principals Committee, at the same time demoting the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Being part of this cabinet-level interagency group makes Steve Bannon one of the most powerful men in Washington. The National Security Council consists of staff within the White House that coordinates foreign policy and national security matters with the President and outside departments like the Department of State and Defense. This move has startled many, as Bannon’s influence over President Trump continues to grow.
Bannon’s dark worldview, anti-semitic past, and time at Breitbart became a point of discussion when he was first appointed to the position of Chief Strategist. Now, with his increasing level power, Bannon’s past is being brought back to light. At Breitbart, Bannon “openly embraced the white supremacist alt-right,” former editor-at-large of Breitbart News Ben Shapiro notes.
Bannon gave further insight into worldview and motives to a reporter at the Daily Beast:
“I’m a Leninist. Lenin, wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
It is apparent that Steve Bannon, who reportedly wrote Trump’s inaugural address and is writing all of Trump’s executive orders (along with Trump’s Senior White House Advisor Stephen Miller), is consolidating power within the Trump administration. Bannon’s worldview and fingerprints can be seen on everything coming out of the White House, from the controversial immigration ban to the denialist statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The top hashtag for a time this weekend was #StopPresidentBannon.
One thing’s for sure, people are paying attention.
Border Patrol Defied Court Order On Immigration Ban
President Trump’s hastily signed immigration ban sent airports into chaos this weekend, as people were detained without notice. Protests erupted across the U.S. and these moves were challenged by the ACLU. Federal judges in New York, Virginia and Massachusetts ordered a temporary halt to the deportation of people who had arrived in the US with valid visas. After this, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) didn’t fully cooperate. The Guardian reports:
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents defied the orders of federal judges regarding Donald Trump’s travel bans on Sunday, according to members of Congress and attorneys who rallied protests around the country in support of detained refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
On Sunday afternoon, four Democratic members of the House of Representatives arrived at Dulles airport in Virginia on word that people had been detained and denied access to lawyers.
“We have a constitutional crisis today,” representative Don Beyer wrote on Twitter. “Four members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away.”
Border Patrol agents have also reportedly been checking people’s social media for political views.
Trump’s War On Science
Last week, the Trump Administration instituted a media blackout for the Environmental Protection Agency, and barred staff from taking on new projects. Additionally, they will now require that all scientific studies be subjected to review by political staff before information can be released to the public.
Spawned by the White House’s hostile actions toward the Scientific Community, a Science March on Washington will be taking place. They are going to be releasing a mission statement on Monday, and will be collaborating with European marchers.
Organizers launched a Facebook page and Twitter account on Jan 24th that quickly picked up steam, amassing hundreds of thousands of supporters.
Also, due to the gag order that was placed on key federal environmentalist agencies last week, the scientific committee has gone “rogue” creating non-governmental accounts, so that they may continue to disseminate information freely to the American people.
The rogue twitter accounts began on Jan. 24 when an account called the AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer) popped up with this bio:
This led to a domino effect of alternative accounts among the Scientific Community, which include; NASA, EPA, National Park Service, FDA, NOAA, USFWS, and the Badlands NPS.
First Military Casualty Under Trump Presidency
In the first military operation approved by Trump, a U.S. Commando was killed in action and three others were wounded. The operation in reference was a deadly raid that was carried out on an al-Qaeda militant group in southern Yemen. Among the militants killed was senior leader, Abdulraoof al-Dhahab, of Yemen’s al Qaeda arm.
According to a Reuters report, “the U.S. military said it killed 14 militants in a raid on a powerful al Qaeda branch that has been a frequent target of U.S. drone strikes. Medics at the scene said around 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed.”
However, whether or not the loss of innocent life could have been prevented will remain ambiguous due to the specifics of the raid being kept hidden by the Pentagon. The Defense Department has said that operation provided them with “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”
Trump’s comments on the raid were as follows;
“Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism.”
Trump’s First Week As President
Trump signed 14 executive actions (6 executive orders and 8 memorandums) this week. Some were theater, and some will have huge ramifications. Whether or not many of these actions are carried out depends heavily on how congress appropriates funds for these various actions.
With a lot of the focus being placed on what Trump says on any given day, it’s important to keep track of what he actually does. This isn’t a list of everything Trump said or tweeted. Here is every action President Trump, and his administration, took during his first week as President of the United States: