Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, who moved think tank closer to Trump, set to be ousted by board
Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint is set to be ousted by board members who believe the think tank has become "too bombastic and political" during his tenure, Politico writes.
DeMint served as a South Carolina senator between 2005 and 2013, where he was a prominent Tea Party leader. He quit office to join the Heritage Foundation in 2013. "He has been a congressman and senator," one board member anonymously told Politico. "They are solo performers. When you are in the Senate, life is all about the senators. CEO skills are different than senator skills. I think it boils down to attributes. I don't think it is particularly personal."
Tensions reportedly arose during DeMint's contract negotiations, "which are expected to be cut short," Politico writes. Former Heritage President Ed Feulner is expected to serve as interim president following DeMint's ousting, which could come as soon as Friday.
Over the past year, DeMint moved the organization closer to President Trump, including a promise made last July that Heritage's policy experts would be at the disposal of Trump's transition team if he won. Heritage has continued to express its opinions to the Trump administration, including public opposition to the proposed Republican health-care bill. "Jim brought everyone in from the Senate to Heritage and made it hyper-political," complained one board member. "Heritage is also about civil society and culture. He's taken that off of the table."
Another operative said: "If Heritage pushes Jim DeMint out it was because a few board members, who are close to the Republican establishment, never wanted him to be president and have been working to push him out ever since. DeMint is one of the most respected and selfless conservative leaders in the country and pushing him out would be a big mistake." Read the full scoop at Politico. Jeva Lange
Convicted murderer Kenneth Williams is scheduled to be put to death Thursday at 7 p.m. CT in what would be Arkansas' fourth execution of the month, BuzzFeed News reports. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) had originally announced eight executions for April, but so far only three have been carried out while four others have been put on hold by different courts. The state is hurrying to carry out capital punishment before the supply of one of its three execution drugs expires at the end of the month.
To date, the state Supreme Court has denied two of Williams' requests for a stay; his lawyers filed a new lawsuit Thursday.
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was directly told in 2014 not to take money from foreign governments without explicit permission, documents released Thursday reveal. Flynn, who resigned from the Trump administration in February, took $34,000 in December 2015 for a speaking gala concerning Russian TV and more than $500,000 for lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests ahead of the November election. A defense intelligence official said Thursday that no record of Flynn asking for permission or approval "for the receipt of money from a foreign source" could be found, NBC News reports.
Cummings to the White House over not handing over Mike Flynn info: “Come on, man” (one of Obama's favorite lines) pic.twitter.com/DbNWi1bbz1
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 27, 2017
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) — the ranking member and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, respectively — jointly criticized the White House for denying their request for documents related to Flynn. "I don't understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn," Cummings said.
Facing accusations that Flynn's vetting process by the Trump team was insufficient, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted Thursday that the Obama administration was responsible for giving Flynn his security clearance years prior. Of course, it was still the Trump team that named Flynn as the administration's national security adviser, a role he filled for just 24 days. Jeva Lange
Asked about Mike Flynn’s vetting by the Trump team, Spicer blames the Obama admin. for renewing Flynn’s security clearance years before pic.twitter.com/iPkuxA7uCu
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 27, 2017
Two American soldiers were killed overnight in the eastern Afghanistan province of Nangarhar in an operation against an Islamic State affiliate, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Thursday.
The operation targeted the Afghanistan wing of the terrorist group, known as ISIS-K. An additional Special Operations Forces soldier was wounded in combat, but is expected to live, CNN reports.
The Nangarhar region is a hotbed for ISIS, and has been the site of many U.S.-Afghan joint counterterrorism operations. It is also near where the U.S. dropped the so-called "mother of all bombs" earlier this month. Jeva Lange
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short has refused the House Oversight Committee's request for documents regarding ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The House committee is investigating whether Flynn, who registered as a foreign agent after he was forced to resign from Trump's administration over his dealings with Russia, fully disclosed his work for foreign governments on his security clearance application.
In a letter, Short said some of the requested documents were in the custody of the Department of Defense, not the White House. In the case of other documents, Short wrote that the White House was "unable to accommodate" the requests. Short's response arrived as the committee convened Tuesday to review its first set of documents on Flynn, provided by the Pentagon.
Previous documents released by the White House at the beginning of April revealed Flynn had not disclosed income he'd received from three Russia-linked firms. Flynn's lobbying company has also been found to have worked for a firm linked to the Turkish government while Flynn was serving as a top adviser to Trump's presidential campaign.
Flynn is one of the major players from the Trump administration being looked at in FBI, House, and Senate investigations into the Trump team's ties to Russia's election meddling. Becca Stanek
U.S. imposes sanctions on 271 employees of Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center after deadly chemical attack
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced at Monday's White House press briefing that the U.S. has issued new economic sanctions against Syria in response to the deadly chemical attack there earlier this month. The sanctions will be imposed on 271 individuals who work for the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, the Syrian government agency that is believed to be responsible for developing chemical weapons.
Many of the individuals facing sanctions are "experts in chemistry and related fields" or people who have worked "in support of the center's 'chemical weapons program' since at least 2012, or both," Reuters reported. "We intend to hold the Assad regime accountable for its unacceptable behavior," Mnuchin said, noting the new sanctions send a "strong message."
The April 4 attack, which the Trump administration has blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, killed nearly 100 people, including children. The U.S. responded days later with a missile strike. Becca Stanek
The State Department has named former Fox News Channel anchor Heather Nauert as its spokeswoman, filling a position that had been left vacant for nearly 100 days, The Associated Press reports. Mark Toner, the department's deputy spokesman under former President Barack Obama, had previously filled the role on an acting basis.
The State Department stopped its sporadic on-camera press briefings in late March, with officials saying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would resume the briefings once the department hired a permanent spokesperson. It is unclear when Nauert, a Fox & Friends alumna, will restart briefings. The State Department has been criticized since President Trump took office for its inaccessibility. Jeva Lange
Early projections put centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen in position to advance to the second round of voting in France's runoff presidential election. Per numbers from The Guardian, Macron has a slight lead with about 23.7 percent of the vote and Le Pen follows with about 22 percent.
The other two (of 11 total) candidates thought to have a shot at advancing, center-right François Fillon and far-left populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, are each projected to take around 19.5 percent. The second vote is May 7. Bonnie Kristian