WASHINGTON (AP) — An unrepentant President Donald Trump has been testing the limits of the nation’s tolerance from the day he took office. Now he has cast off one of the few remaining voices trying to curtail his at times mercurial impulses.
Trump nudged out national intelligence director Dan Coats, a rare cautionary influence in his foreign policy apparatus, while he escalated his attacks on minority members of Congress and went so far as to call a majority-black U.S. city of 600,000 a „disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” on Twitter. Both moves underscored Trump’s longstanding belief that he is his own best political strategist.
The president’s volatile management style has shocked the nation before. But the drumbeat of provocation emanating from the White House has grown undeniably louder in recent months. Trump aides such as economic adviser Gary Cohn, who blocked impulsive actions by going so far as to remove rogue paperwork from the Resolute Desk, are gone.
The president has rid himself of many of the aides who once challenged him, either by attrition or replacement, and in doing so illustrated his preference for loyalty over know-how. He’s inflamed racial tensions, betting that such divisions will help ease his path to victory in 2020. And he’s replaced gut instinct and tweets for the sober analysis of professionals on matters of war and peace.
On Sunday, Trump had his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, defend the offensive tweets on national television and furthered his divisive attacks on a veteran African-American congressman, claiming without evidence that Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, a prominent administration critic, was himself „racist.”
While Republicans nervously consider an unconstrained Trump 15 months from the election, few have stepped up to challenge a president who has been emboldened by the conclusion of the Russia probe and a divided Democratic Congress to conduct foreign policy and domestic politics as he alone sees fit.
The temptations for Trump are only set to increase this week, before two nights of debates by his would-be 2020 Democratic rivals. Then on Thursday in Ohio, he’ll have his first rally since the offensive chants of his supporters about Democratic lawmakers of color. Trump disavowed the chants, then backtracked on his disavowal.
Like so many of Trump’s political impulses, the president’s attacks this weekend on Cummings, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and the racist tweets he sent two weeks earlier were born not of strategy meetings with aides, but of cable television.
He first laced into four Democratic congresswoman of color, claiming they hated America and should „go back” to where they come from, even though all are U.S. citizens and three were born in the U.S. The remarks drew condemnation from both parties. Yet when a North Carolina rally crowd chanted „send her back” about Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia before moving to the U.S. as a child, Trump let the chant roll unchallenged before later falsely claiming he stopped it.
Last weekend, it was a Fox News segment on Cummings’ Baltimore district that set off Trump. Aides said Trump was already agitated with Cummings for his treatment of acting Homeland Security head Kevin McAleenan during a congressional hearing and because of the lawmaker’s acquisition of subpoena power to search the emails of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, senior White House aides who are the president’s daughter and son-in-law.
Former chief of staff Reince Priebus once nicknamed Trump’s inflammatory weekend tweets, often triggered by something he saw on Fox News, products of „the devil’s workshop” and said they could derail carefully choreographed White House plans. But while Priebus and his successor, John Kelly, each tried with varied intensity to steer Trump away from the treacherous combination of television and Twitter, Mulvaney has made no such attempt. He’s given the president space to tweet as he wishes, according to nine administration officials and outside allies.
After his attacks against Cummings, Trump asked advisers on Monday how the tweets played on television — yet made clear he was not asking them whether he should have posted them, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The president has also, in recent days, expressed to Kushner, who many regard as Trump’s de facto campaign manager, and other advisers on his re-election team that he believed his broadsides against the minority Democrats would help excite his core supporters.
Though polling suggests the attacks could hurt Trump with suburban voters — and especially women — whom he may need to win again next year, Trump has been unmoved, telling those around him that he can compensate for that by turning out voters who did not cast a ballot in 2016. Unlike that election, when the novice candidate sometimes would listen to advice from advisers Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s whims now regularly go unchallenged.
Coats’ departure accelerates a similar reshaping of Trump’s foreign policy team. Previously, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, would sometimes rein in the president’s foreign policy impulses, loudly or subtly.
But if Trump tolerated that early in his administration, he quickly tired of their cautious attitudes, officials said, as he developed confidence in his own abilities to choose the right path, whether by stepping into North Korean territory or disregarding the Iranian downing of a U.S. unmanned drone over the Strait of Hormuz.
All those officials have departed, replaced by those far less willing to challenge the president.
Coats developed a reputation for sober presentations to the president of intelligence conclusions that often conflicted with Trump’s policy aims, whether for rapprochement with North Korea, warning of Russian election interference, tearing up the Iran nuclear accord or declaring the fight against the Islamic State group to be over.
The president’s chosen replacement for Coats, Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, is a frequent Trump defender who fiercely questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week. He lacks extensive intelligence or foreign policy experience.
Lemire reported from New York.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire cover the White House for The Associated Press.
US officials: Afghan soldier kills 2 US troops
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Afghan soldier shot and killed two American service members in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Monday.The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on the record about details that have not yet been made public.U.S. Central Command confirmed that two U.S. troops were killed, but provided no details. It said additional information is being withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin is complete.According to officials, the Afghan soldier was wounded and is in custody. The shooting took place in Kandahar in the country’s south.The U.S. formally ended its Afghan combat mission in 2014 but still provides extensive air and other support to local forces battling both the Taliban and an affiliate of the Islamic State group.U.S. and allied forces have faced increasing insider attacks in recent years. In November, Brent Taylor, the mayor of North Ogden, Utah, and a major in the Utah National Guard, was killed by an Afghan soldier in Kabul.The last six months have seen the Taliban carry out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting Afghan security forces.The insurgent group effectively controls around half the country.The Taliban have rejected calls for a cease-fire even as they hold talks with the U.S. aimed at ending the 18-year war, America’s longest.IS, meanwhile, has launched attacks targeting security forces as well as minority Shiites.The U.S. has lost more than 2,400 soldiers in its longest war, and has spent more than $900 billion on everything from military operations to the construction of roads, bridges and power plants.The Trump administration is trying to boost the capabilities of Afghan security forces and increase military pressure on the Taliban in the hope of forcing them to negotiate a peace.
Missouri Valley rivals to take best shot at North Dakota State
(STATS) – North Dakota State’s recent dominance in the Missouri Valley Football Conference has been even greater than on a national level.
That’s saying a lot because the Bison have won two straight and a record seven of the last eight FCS championships.
In the MVFC, though, they’ve been champs in eight straight seasons, including four times as the outright winner. Last year’s team went 15-0 overall.
But NDSU doesn’t believe eight is enough in the MVFC. Voters in the conference’s preseason poll predicted the Bison will continue their success, installing them as the favorite on Monday, with South Dakota State second and Illinois State third among 10 teams.
NDSU has a new head coach in former defensive coordinator Matt Entz and their streak of consecutive MVFC titles (eight) is a higher number than their returning starters (seven) after the graduation of a dominating senior class.
Regardless of all the change, the rest of the elite conference feels the Bison are the team to beat until their dynasty is halted.
„I think they’re still the champions,” Illinois State coach Brock Spack said on an MVFC coaches teleconference. „They have very good players in the program, they have a good staff and they’ve won multiple national championships, they’re going to have good players waiting to play. I’m sure they’ve done a great job of developing those guys. It’s their turn now.
„Until you beat the champion, I don’t think things have changed.”
North Dakota State enters the season on a Division I-best 21-game winning streak. The Bison will feature junior outside linebacker 2018 MVFC defensive player of the year Jabril Cox as well as defensive end Derrek Tuszka, offensive tackles Zack Johnson and Dillon Radunz and running back Ty Brooks.
Entz embraces the challenge to reload immediately because the Bison „have a number of kids that are hungry. There’s a reason they were recruited to Fargo and that was to play football.”
But NDSU’s rival, South Dakota State, has reached the national semifinals in the last two seasons and again poses the biggest challenge within the MVFC. The Jackrabbits return 14 starters to a lineup that features some of the nation’s best players at their position in wide receiver Cade Johnson, running back Pierre Strong Jr., linebacker Christian Rozeboom and place-kicker Chase Vinatieri.
„Last year we talked about who we lost and our guys responded, so I expect our guys to respond the same way,” coach John Stiegelmeier said. „The biggest question for us is the quarterback situation, having lost a four-year starter in Taryn Christion. But again, Taryn expects us to be better at quarterback. That’s a good start.
MISSOURI VALLEY FOOTBALL CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL
Head Coaches, Media and Sports Information Directors Vote
1. North Dakota State (32 first-place votes), 392 points
2. South Dakota State (4), 348
3. Illinois State (3), 289
4. Indiana State (1), 279
5. Northern Iowa, 266
6. South Dakota, 176
7. Youngstown State, 153
8. Western Illinois, 128
9. Southern Illinois, 89
10. Missouri State, 80
Related Video Above: Bison Charges and Bucks 9-Year-Old Girl
MEDORA, N.D. — A teenage visitor to a national park in North Dakota has been injured by a bison.
Officials at Theodore Roosevelt National Park say the 17-year-old girl from Colorado was on a trail Saturday and walked between two bull bison that had been fighting. One bison charged the teen who was struck in the back, gored in the thigh and tossed about six feet in the air.
Park rangers and Billings County paramedics treated the girl at the scene until the victim could be taken by helicopter to a Bismarck hospital. Authorities say the teen is in stable condition.
Park regulations require that visitors stay at least 25 yards away from large animals such as bison, elk, deer and horses.
Last week, Yellowstone National Park officials say a bull bison tossed a 9-year-old girl into the air when the animal charged a group of about 50 tourists.
Yellowstone park officials said the bison rushed the group July 22 after some of the tourists approached to within 5 to 10 feet of the animal over at least 20 minutes.
The Odessa, Florida, girl was taken to Old Faithful Lodge by her family for treatment by emergency personnel. She was later taken to a clinic and released.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bison attack: Teen injured at Theodore Roosevelt National Park