Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Trump’s turbulent White House

In this photo taken Feb. 16, 2017, President Donald Trump's White House Senior Adviser Steve Bannon arrives for a news conference with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in President Donald Trump's White House, is leaving. Trump accepted Bannon's resignation Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president's administration in turmoil. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Updated 18 August 2017
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Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Trump’s turbulent White House

WASHINGTON: Steve Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in President Donald Trump’s White House, is leaving.
Trump accepted Bannon’s resignation on Friday, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president’s administration in turmoil.
White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday would be Bannon’s last day on the job.
“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” she said in a statement confirming reports of Bannon’s departure.
A combative and unorthodox Republican, Bannon was a key adviser in Trump’s general election campaign, but he has been a contentious presence in a White House divided by warring staff loyalties.
The former leader of conservative Breitbart News has pushed Trump to follow through on his campaign promises and was the man behind many of his most controversial efforts, including Trump’s travel ban and decision to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement.
But Bannon repeatedly clashed with other top White House advisers and often ran afoul of the president himself.
Bannon offered his resignation to Trump on Aug. 7, according to one person close to the adviser.
The resignation was to go into effect a week later, Aug. 14, which was the one year anniversary of when he officially joined Trump’s presidential campaign. It was then held back a few days after the violence in Charlottesville.
But Bannon had been on shaky ground for weeks, and his standing appeared in jeopardy when Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, embarked on a personnel review of West Wing staff. Kelly had indicated to aides that significant changes could be coming, according to an official familiar with Kelly’s plans but not authorized to speak publicly.
The president had also repeatedly diminished Bannon’s role in his campaign in recent remarks and refused to express confidence during an impromptu news conference Tuesday.
“He’s a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard,” Trump said. “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
The decision whether to drop Bannon was more than just a personnel matter. The media guru is viewed in some circles as Trump’s connection to his base and the protector of Trump’s disruptive, conservative agenda.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow if Steve is gone because you have a Republican West Wing that’s filled with generals and Democrats,” said former campaign strategist Sam Nunberg, shortly before the news of Bannon’s departure broke. “It would feel like the twilight zone.”


US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

Updated 22 June 2018
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US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

  • The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila
  • Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Thursday it had imposed visa bans on several senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo for corruption tied to the country’s electoral process to send a “strong signal” about the need for a peaceful transfer of power.
Washington declined to identify the individuals, saying it was not obligated to reveal them based on “foreign policy considerations.”
“Today’s actions send a strong signal that the US government is committed to fighting corruption, to supporting credible elections that lead to DRC’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power,” the State Department said.
The move comes before elections scheduled in DRC for Dec. 23. There are concerns, however, that President Joseph Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father Laurent in 2001, could delay the vote to seek a third elected term.
The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila.
Sasha Lezhnev, deputy policy director at the nonprofit rights group Enough Project called Thursday’s visa ban an important step “to dissuade Kabila from putting his name on the ballot and help ensure a credible election.”
“Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step,” said Lezhnev. “They or the businesses they partner with also use US banks to process corrupt commercial deals, so the US and EU should enact stronger sanctions on their corporate networks to target their assets.”