By Yeganeh Torbati and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's foreign policy legacy rests in part on a foundation of unilateral actions that his successor Donald Trump could reverse with the stroke of a pen. Due to take office on Jan. 20, Trump, the winner in Tuesday's election, campaigned at times to dismantle Obama's nuclear deal with Iran and to reimpose sanctions Obama eased on Cuba. Trump also disagreed with foreign policy decisions that included the way Obama has deployed troops abroad to combat Islamist militant groups. In his most notable foreign policy achievements, Obama, a Democrat, used executive authorities that offered a convenient legal path around a Republican-controlled Congress committed to blocking his agenda. The U.S. Constitution gives a president broad executive powers to enact foreign policy. Both Republican and Democratic presidents have sought to exercise those powers by issuing executive orders, presidential memoranda and what are called findings. "He (Obama) relied on executive authority to build a foreign policy legacy," said Thomas Wright, director of the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution. "That is all vulnerable to countervailing executive authority by a Trump administration," Wright said. Obama had hoped to pass his legacy on to Democrat Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state, but she lost the presidential election to Trump, a Republican businessman who has never held public office or served in the military. TRUMP PLANS UNCLEAR Often contradicting himself during the campaign, Trump made it difficult to know for sure what policies he would pursue. Major constraints include budget caps, laws he cannot reverse without Congress, and the pressure that will emerge to replace policies he chooses to abandon. Trump said in an October speech that he would "cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama" on his first day in office, without saying who would determine their constitutionality. A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday on his latest plans. EXECUTIVE ORDERS, ENACTED & RESCINDED Perhaps nowhere has Obama faced more congressional opposition than in his pursuit of the 2015 deal with Iran, which Republicans and some Democrats said put too few restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in return for too much sanctions relief. Trump has vowed to dismantle it, although his statements on the deal have been contradictory. A president may tighten and relax economic sanctions by executive order. "Anything enacted by executive order can be rescinded by executive order," said Zachary Goldman, a former U.S. Treasury official now at New York University. Obama drew enough support from Democrats to block a Republican-led resolution rejecting the Iran deal, achieving a political victory but falling short of a consensus. Trump will have the added advantage of working with a U.S. Senate and a House of Representatives controlled by fellow Republicans. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday he hoped Trump would "see how much he can undo the unilateral actions the president took all by himself, which would not require us." CUBA, DRONES Breaking with longstanding U.S. policy on another issue, Obama restored diplomatic ties with Cuba in 2015. But facing opposition in Congress to lifting a broad economic embargo, especially from Republicans, he used executive actions to ease some U.S. sanctions. Obama capped his Cuba efforts last month with a sweeping "presidential policy directive," which also is reversible and sets forth mandates for government engagement, people-to-people exchanges, and greater U.S. business ties. Trump has taken contradictory positions on whether he supports the embargo or not. Obama's aides said the easing of restrictions was aimed at securing enough benefits for U.S. businesses and travelers that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for any Republican president to reverse the opening to Cuba. Trump could roll back Obama's efforts to create greater transparency about drone strikes. Obama issued an executive order in July requiring annual disclosures about such strikes. MILITARY POWER As commander-in-chief, Trump will wield the power to mobilize the U.S. military on short notice and without first seeking approval from Congress. Obama deployed U.S. troops to Iraq, Syria and Libya to help fight the Islamic State militant group by relying on the authority Congress granted President George W. Bush to battle al Qaeda. That same authority would allow Trump to ramp up U.S. deployments in fights against Islamist militants if he chose to do so. One former U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the president can approve covert action and needs only to brief relevant leaders in Congress once the operation is under way. Trump's powers, however, are limited. He pledged to expand the Army, grow the Marine Corps, boost the Navy from 276 to 350 ships and submarines, and raise the number of Air Force tactical aircraft from 1,100 to 1,200. For starters, that would require that Congress scrap government spending caps under the Budget Control Act. Trump's support for water-boarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning, also would meet opposition. Congress last year passed legislation barring the use of waterboarding and other "extreme interrogation techniques" widely considered torture. Obama signed the measure into law last November. (Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Jonathan Landay and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Howard Goller)
- NBC News
The Biden administration aims for 100 million vaccinations within his first 100 days as president.
President Vladimir Putin would respond in kind if the new U.S. administration showed willingness to talk, a Kremlin spokesman said on Sunday, while also accusing Washington of meddling in mass protests in support of detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The Kremlin also downplayed the scale of Saturday's demonstrations, which saw police detain more than 3,000 people and use force to break up rallies across Russia. Prior to the protests, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had issued a "Demonstration Alert", warning U.S. citizens to avoid the protests and naming the venues in Russian cities where protesters planned to gather.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
- The Week
Austin directs Pentagon leaders to gather assessment of military's sexual assault prevention programs
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin promised several senators in his confirmation hearing that he would prioritize sexual assault prevention within the military in his new role, and it appears he's attempting to follow through quickly.Per The Associated Press, Austin issued his first directive as Pentagon chief Saturday night, giving his senior leaders two weeks to gather reports on sexual assault prevention programs in the military and send him assessments of what has worked and what hasn't. "This is a leadership issue," he reportedly wrote in a two-page memo. "We will lead."The move comes a day after he was confirmed by the Senate. The retired four-star Army general acknowledged in his Senate hearing and in the memo that the military must do a better job of handling a problem that has long existed within its ranks, and he told officials not to be "afraid to get creative" in finding ways to approach the issue.Reports of sexual assault in the military have steadily increased since 2006, AP notes, including a 13 percent jump in 2018 and a 3 percent jump in 2019 (the data for 2020 is not yet available.) Experts believe sexual assaults remain underreported, though there's some hope that victims have grown more confident in the justice system. Read more at The Associated Press.More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push Biden foolishly low-balls America's COVID response 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit
- Business Insider
Barely any time has passed since President Biden's inauguration, and Republicans have already returned to their bag of shenanigans.
A prominent U.S. Senate Republican warned on Saturday that former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial could lead to the prosecution of former Democratic presidents if Republicans retake the chamber in two years. Trump this month became the first U.S. president to be impeached twice after the Democratic-controlled House, with the support of 10 Republicans, voted to charge him with incitement of insurrection for a fiery Jan. 6 speech to his followers before they launched a deadly assault on the Capitol.
- Associated Press
A 34-year-old grizzly bear captured in southwestern Wyoming has been confirmed as the oldest on record in the Yellowstone region, Wyoming wildlife officials said. Grizzly bear 168 was captured last summer after it preyed on calves in the Upper Green River Basin area. Biologists learned of the bear’s longevity after euthanizing the bruin, which had preyed on cattle and then finally, calves.
- The Telegraph
Russian police detained Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, at a protest in Moscow on Saturday as demonstrations in support of the opposition leader swept across Russia. Authorities detained at least 1,600 people at unauthorised rallies in Moscow and dozens of cities across the country, with some reports of violent clashes between protesters and riot police. At least 10,000 people joined protests in Moscow, according to estimates, in a test to Vladimir Putin. Protests began in Russia’s Far East and Siberia on Saturday morning. Seven time zones east of Moscow, about 3,000 people marched across the city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean, chanting “Navalny!” In Novosibirsk, chants “Putin is a thief” rang out in freezing minus 19 C temperatures as opposition supporters walked across the city to the main square.
- Associated Press
New first lady Jill Biden took an unannounced detour to the U.S. Capitol on Friday to deliver baskets of chocolate chip cookies to National Guard members, thanking them “for keeping me and my family safe” during President Joe Biden's inauguration. “I just want to say thank you from President Biden and the whole, the entire Biden family,” she told a group of Guard members at the Capitol. “The White House baked you some chocolate chip cookies," she said, before joking that she couldn't say she had baked them herself.
India said it will administer homegrown coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN in seven more states from Monday as it seeks to inoculate 30 million healthcare workers across the country. The government this month gave emergency-use approval to the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee who caucuses with the Democrats, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Democrats plan to push a coronavirus relief package through the chamber with a simple majority vote. Why it matters: "Budget reconciliation" would allow Democrats to forgo the Senate's 60-vote requirement and could potentially speed-up the next relief package for millions of unemployed Americans. Democrats hold the the 50-50 split in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What he's saying: "What we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months to go forward. We have got to act now," Sanders said. * "We're going to use reconciliation — that's 50 votes in the Senate, plus the vice president — to pass legislation desperately needed by working families in this country right now." * When asked if he wants a relief bill passed before former President Trump's impeachment trial begins the week of Feb. 8, he said: "We've got to do everything. This is not — you don't have the time to sit around, weeks on impeachment and not get vaccines into the arms of people."Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Associated Press
A Federal Aviation Administration employee and QAnon follower from California who had been on the FBI's radar is facing federal charges after he confessed to taking part in the siege of the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents released Friday. Kevin Strong, 44, of Beaumont, surrendered to authorities on Friday and appeared in a federal court in Riverside, where a judge ordered him held on $50,000 bond, said Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles. It wasn't immediately clear whether Strong had raised the bond.
- The Week
Trump's pressure on DOJ to sue states over election in Supreme Court reportedly 'got really intense'
Former President Donald Trump, citing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, pushed the Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court to invalidate President Biden's electoral victory, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. "He wanted us, the United States, to sue one or more states directly in the Supreme Court," a former administration official told the Journal. "The pressure got really intense."Ultimately, several Justice Department officials, including former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Attorney General William Barr, reportedly refused to file a case with the high court because there was no legal basis to challenge the election outcome and the federal government "had no legal interest" in whether Trump or Biden won the presidency. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone also reportedly opposed the idea.The strategy appears to have preceded Trump considering ousting Rosen and replacing him with Jeffrey Clark, an ally within the Justice Department, as reported by The New York Times, which later revealed that it was Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) who made Trump aware of Clark's apparent willingness to back his conspiracy theories. Clark has denied being involved with a plan to get rid of Rosen. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push Biden foolishly low-balls America's COVID response 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit
- The Telegraph
The SNP has revealed a "roadmap to a referendum" on Scottish independence, with the latest poll showing a majority want a fresh vote. Mike Russell, the Scottish Government's Constitution Secretary, will present the 11-point document to the party's policy forum on Sunday. It says a "legal referendum" will be held after the pandemic if there is a pro-independence majority following May's election. The roadmap states any attempt by the UK Government to challenge the legality of the referendum in the courts will be "vigorously opposed". A Section 30 order - part of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows Holyrood to pass laws normally reserved to Westminster - was granted by the UK Government ahead of the 2014 independence referendum.
- Yahoo News Video
It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.
A Colorado geophysicist who participated in the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 and allegedly assaulted a police officer, attempted to flee to Switzerland and attempted suicide. Jeffrey Sabol, 51, was held without bail on Friday and remains behind bars after being arrested at the Westchester Medical Center, according to The Associated Press. U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Krause of White Plains said the allegations against Sabol were “very disturbing, deeply troubling” during a virtual hearing in White Plains Federal Court.
- Associated Press
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel will be closing its international airport to nearly all flights, while Israeli police clashed with ultra-Orthodox protesters in several major cities and the government raced to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control. The entry of highly contagious variants of the virus, coupled with poor enforcement of safety rules in ultra-Orthodox communities, has contributed to one of the world's highest rates of infections. It also has threatened to undercut Israel's highly successful campaign to vaccinate its population against the virus.
One of President Joe Biden's top economic aides on Sunday will press Democratic and Republican senators for a fresh $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief to help struggling Americans and avert a larger economic crisis. Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said he would speak to the senators as part of a push by the Biden administration to make the case for a large rescue plan. "We can't wait," White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
- The New York Times
Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer to former President Donald Trump, conceded Friday night that an associate had sent an email to campaign officials asking that Giuliani be paid $20,000 a day for his work after the Nov. 3 election, but he insisted he was unaware of it at the time. Giuliani acknowledged in a brief phone interview that his associate, Maria Ryan, had sent the email shortly after Election Day. But he maintained that she consulted with another associate, Larry Levy, about what Giuliani should ask for from the campaign while Giuliani was out of town. A copy of the email, reviewed by The New York Times, showed that she sent it from a Giuliani Partners email account. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “Mr. Giuliani began working the case in the wee hours of the morning on November 4,” Ryan wrote. “He has a team in Washington working out of rented hotel rooms.” She wrote that the company was working on an engagement letter, and that instead of $2,000 an hour, “we will contract for $20,000 a day which will include all of the expenses for Mr. Giuliani and his staff.” The request was sent to at least three campaign officials at a time when the campaign was raising large sums of money for a legal fund to fight the election results. When the Times asked about the fee request in November, Giuliani denied it. He had maintained it was a “lie” that he requested such a fee from the president, even as recently as Friday afternoon on his radio show. “I did not do that,” he said. In the phone interview Friday night, after the Times asked his spokesperson about Ryan’s email, Giuliani said that he told the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Trump, of the $20,000 amount, “It’s ridiculous, I don’t want to be paid.” Giuliani said he did not recall precisely when he had that conversation. And it was unclear whether he was aware that Ryan had sent the email when the Times first asked him about the fee request. “I never had a single expectation of being paid a penny,” Giuliani said, adding that he’s had a few expenses reimbursed but nothing more. He faulted Trump’s other advisers and blasted them as “incompetent” leading up to the election. “I feel extremely bad that I’m portrayed as some kind of money-grubbing ambulance chaser,” Giuliani said. “I represented him out of my sense of commitment,” he continued. “I didn’t see anything about this that was going to lead to great wealth. I did see a lot about this that was going to lead to great torture.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- NBC News
"I couldn't believe it, it was like an animal. That's the only way I can put it, it was like an animal," the woman said of the assault in Harlem.