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The President’s week of Feb 10, 2020

Trump and Pence pay tribute to soldiers slain in Afghanistan

On Monday President Trump stopped in Delaware after a campaign rally in New Hampshire to honor dignified transfer of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan, according to USA Today. According to Robert O’Brien, a national security adviser, Trump ended his rally early in order to pay his respects to Sergeant Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, and Sergeant Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28. “These are tough times. It’s tough for the president but he thinks it’s important to be there for the families and recognize them,” stated O’Brien.

Vice President Mike Pence also attended the transfer. This is the first time since 2009 that the President and the Vice President attend such a ceremony together.

Trump released his budget proposal

President Trump’s administration released a budget proposal on Monday that is similar to his previous requests, according to the New York Times. The proposal includes cuts to social programs, such as Medicaid, food stamps, housing, student loan assistance, while offers generous additional spending for the military, national defense and Space Force initiative among others. His 4.8 trillion budget plans for the next fiscal year seeks to reduce spending over a 10-year period. However, it is unlikely to be approved by Congress due to a lack of bipartisan support.

The White House focuses on the decrease of mandatory spending, which includes $130 billion cuts via changes to Medicare prescription-drug prices, $292 billion cuts to Medicaid and food stamps by implementing work requirements and 70$ cut to disability benefits, according to the Wall Street Journal. There are several programs and agencies deemed wasteful that Trump’s administration proposed to eliminate, such as certain Education Department programs and low performing job centers at the Labor Department. Environmental Protection Agency will see a 37% slash in funding. Among the biggest increases in 2021 are NASA (12%) and Veterans Affairs (13%). The plan also proposes an additional $2 billion in funding for the wall on the southern U.S. border. “We’re going to have a very good budget with a very powerful military budget, because we have no choice,” said the President.

Unsurprisingly, his proposal drew harsh criticism from Democrats. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) accused Trump’s administration of targeting “programs that help Americans make ends meet—all while extending his tax cuts for millionaires and wealthy corporations.” He also stated that Congress will oppose President’s plan.

Roger Stone controversy

            On Tuesday four prosecutors working on a Roger Stone’s case abruptly withdrew and one resigned, following the Justice Department overruling their recommendations to sentence former Trump’s adviser up to 9 years and lowering the amount of prison time. It is rare for Justice Department officials to intervene. They issued a statement, arguing that the recommendations are “considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances.”

This led to a political controversy that President Trump intervened in the process because he tweeted on Monday that it “is a horrible and very unfair situation.” He also added that he “cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

“Stone’s lies to Congress and his obstructive conduct are a direct and brazen attack on the rule of law,” said Timothy Shea, US Attorney for the District of Columbia, in a statement regarding Stone’s case. He confirmed that severity of Stone’s crime suggests a sentencing range from 87 to 108 months.

Attorney General Bill Barr insisted that his actions were appropriate, criticizing proposed sentence as too harsh. However, he also expressed his disapproval of Trump’s comments on social media. “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” Barr said on Thursday.

On Sunday more than 1100 Department of Justice officials wrote a statement calling on AG Barr to resign, according to CNN. “Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words,” they wrote. They also accused Barr of damaging the Justice Department’s reputation for integrity.

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