Trump Administration Rescinds Obama Rule On Transgender Students’ Bathroom Use : The Two-Way : NPR

The Trump administration has reversed federal guidance that directed public schools to allow students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to their gender identities.

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The Trump administration has reversed federal guidance that directed public schools to allow students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to their gender identities.

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The Trump administration is rescinding protections for transgender students in public schools.

The move by the Justice and Education departments reverses guidance the Obama administration publicized in May 2016, which said a federal law known as Title IX protects the right of transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.

But on Wednesday, the two federal departments said the Obama documents do not “contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process. This interpretation has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms.”

A letter issued by the departments also says there “must be due regard for the primary role of states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

“The president has made it clear throughout the campaign that he’s a firm believer in states’ rights and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer.

About 150,000 young people ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Civil rights groups say they worry that the reversal could lead to bullying and violence against vulnerable transgender kids. Some protested outside the White House on Wednesday evening.

When then-President Barack Obama issued the guidelines last year, the White House directed schools to allow students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities, citing a federal law that protects students from gender discrimination.

As NPR’s Scott Horsley reported, the Obama administration “warned that schools that defied the recommendation could be at risk of losing federal funds. Thirteen states challenged the Obama guidelines, and a Texas judge put them on hold.”

That administration said the directive was meant to help school districts avoid running afoul of civil rights laws, as we reported.

Under Obama, the Department of Justice sued the state of North Carolina over its so-called bathroom law, which prohibits municipal governments in the state from passing laws protecting the rights of transgender people. It also requires trans people in government facilities to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate.

North Carolina has lost business over the law, including NCAA championship events that were scheduled to be held in the state.

State legislatures in New Hampshire, Colorado and Texas, among other states, have also considered bills that would restrict access to restrooms for transgender people.

On March 28, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments

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Trump Returns To White House, Removes Mask Despite Infection : Live Updates: Trump Tests Positive For Coronavirus : NPR

President Trump removes his mask as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House on Monday after undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md.

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President Trump removes his mask as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House on Monday after undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md.

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President Trump, who spent the weekend in the hospital being treated for COVID-19, made a theatrical return to the White House Monday evening, disembarking Marine One and walking the staircase to the South Portico entrance, where he turned to face the cameras, removed his mask and gave his signature two thumbs up.

Shortly before, a masked Trump had emerged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was receiving treatment, pumping his fist and giving a thumbs up as he ignored questions from reporters.

In a video recorded at the White House which he tweeted later, the president seemed somewhat more circumspect about a virus that he has often downplayed, along with measures to halt its spread, such as wearing masks.

Trump thanked the staff of Walter Reed and said that during his three-night stay he had “learned so much about coronavirus.”

“One thing that’s for certain – don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it,” he said. “We have the best medical equipment. We have the best medicines. All developed recently. And you’re going to beat it.”

“I went, I didn’t feel so good,” he said, but added that, “And two days ago, I could have left two days ago. Two days ago I felt great, like better than I have in a long time. I said just recently, better than 20 years ago.”

Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, said he is cautiously optimistic about the president’s prognosis, but that medical staff needed to remain on guard for another week.

“Over the past 24 hours, the president’s condition has continued to improve,” Conley told reporters at a news briefing Monday. “He’s met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria.”

“Although he may not be entirely out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations, and most importantly, his clinical status, support the president’s safe return home, where he will be surrounded by world-class medical care, 24/7.”

The president’s treatment has included the steroid dexamethasone and a five-day course of remdesivir. Dr. Brian Garibaldi told reporters on Monday that Trump would get a fifth dose of remdesivir at the White House on Tuesday night and that he continues to receive a steroid.

Asked by a reporter if he had concerns about a possible worsening or reversal of the president’s condition, Conley responded: “You’re absolutely right.”

“That’s why we all remain cautiously optimistic and on guard, because we are in a bit of uncharted territory when it

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Trump Health Update On Monday : NPR

White House physician Sean Conley (center) arrives to answer questions surrounded by other doctors for an update on President Trump’s health on Monday.

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White House physician Sean Conley (center) arrives to answer questions surrounded by other doctors for an update on President Trump’s health on Monday.

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President Trump’s medical team once again held a briefing outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday for an update on the president’s COVID-19 treatment.

The doctors said that the president is doing well and meets all standard hospital discharge criteria. Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, confirmed a tweet by the president earlier in the day that he was “feeling really good” and would be leaving Walter Reed. The president headed back to the White House just after 6:30 p.m. ET.

Trump will continue to receive his five-day course of remdesivir, taking the fifth and final dose at the White House Tuesday evening, doctors said.

Conley declined to answer repeated questions about when the president had his last negative test. He also refused to giving information about Trump’s lung scans or whether there were signs of pneumonia, citing patient privacy regulations.

Read the transcript of the news conference below.

SEAN CONLEY, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: Good afternoon, everyone, thank you for being here. Over the past 24 hours, the president has continued to improve. He’s met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria. He’ll receive another dose of Remdesivir here today and then we plan to get him home. It’s been more than 72 hours since his last fever.

Oxygen levels, including ambulatory saturations and his work of breathing are all normal. Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations and most importantly his clinical status support the president’s safe return home, where he’ll be surrounded by world class medical care 24/7. I’d like to bring Dr. Duli up to review some more specifics.

SEAN DOOLEY, PULMONARY CRITICAL CARE DOCTOR: Good afternoon, just a brief update this morning, as Dr. Connelly mentioned, the president uh continues to do very well. His vital signs this morning were notable for a temperature of 98.1. His blood pressure was 134 over 78, the respiratory rate of 17 respirations per minute. His heart rate was 68 beats per minute and his last oxyhemoglobin saturation was 97% on room air.

He currently does not endorse any respiratory complaints. And aside from our evaluation with the multidisciplinary team this morning has maintained a full schedule ambulating and working on the White House medical unit. And I’ll turn it over to Dr. Garibaldi and again discuss therapeutics.

BRIAN GARIBALDI, PULMONARY CRITICAL CARE DOCTOR: Hi, good afternoon. And again, I just wanted to echo the sentiment of what an honor it is to to be part of this wonderful team here at Walter Reed.

Yesterday evening, the president

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Voice Of America White House Bureau Chief Investigated By Political Appointees : NPR

An investigation by political appointees into Steve Herman, the Voice of America’s White House bureau chief, for anti-Trump bias is the latest act that may break federal laws promising its journalistic independence.

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An investigation by political appointees into Steve Herman, the Voice of America’s White House bureau chief, for anti-Trump bias is the latest act that may break federal laws promising its journalistic independence.

Voice of America

Two political appointees at the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America recently investigated one of its most prominent journalists to make the case he was biased against President Trump, NPR has learned.

They compiled an extensive report deemed “confidential” on VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman, claiming that in his reporting and tweets that Herman had been unfair to Trump and had broken the broadcaster’s standards and social media policies. And they repeatedly cited a “conflict of interest,” based on their conclusions from Herman’s social media postings, including his own tweets and his “likes,” according to materials reviewed by NPR. The findings were quietly presented to acting Voice of America Director Elez Biberaj for action two weeks ago.

In so doing, the two men appear to have violated laws and regulations intended to protect the federally funded news outlet from political interference or influence. That has set off alarms within the VOA newsroom, already unnerved by investigations of coverage of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by VOA’s Urdu language service and the tenor of language used to describe his wife, Jill Biden, to introduce a segment on VOA’s French to Africa language service.

NPR spoke to three people who had knowledge of the episode and another five for other elements of this story. It is not clear what Biberaj has done with the file. Herman, who declined comment for this story, is perhaps the most public face of VOA. He has been its bureau chief in India, South Korea and Thailand as well as the network’s senior diplomatic correspondent.

Earlier this year, Herman drew the ire of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff after revealing the vice president had not worn a mask inside the Mayo Clinic despite his office’s awareness of the hospital’s policy requiring it ahead of time. And Herman last week filed a first-person dispatch about being barred from Joe Biden’s campaign plane over concerns of COVID-19. Herman had traveled on Air Force One a day earlier — just before news broke that White House communications director Hope Hicks and the president had tested positive for the virus.

The investigation of Herman is the latest and perhaps the most blatant in a growing series of episodes pointing to the politicization of the international broadcaster since Trump’s pick, Michael Pack, became CEO of its parent agency. Pack took over the U.S.

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Live Updates: Trump Tests Positive For Coronavirus : NPR

Pence is next in line to succeed to the presidency should President Trump’s health decline.

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Pence is next in line to succeed to the presidency should President Trump’s health decline.

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Vice President Mike Pence, who on Friday tested negative for the coronavirus, plans to maintain his usual schedule in the coming days, despite several confirmed cases of the virus within the White House, including President Trump and the First Lady.

Pence on Friday continued with his normal duties — and stepped in for President Trump at at least one virtual event — even as confirmed cases of COVID-19 shook the Oval Office and led to concerns regarding the possibility of confirming a Supreme Court justice to the bench and the upcoming Nov. 3 election.

Pence, who is next in line to the presidency in the event of an emergency, was in close proximity to Trump as recently as Tuesday.

Pence’s physician, Dr. Jesse Schonau, released a statement Friday saying Pence does not need to quarantine and can “go about his normal activities” because he is “not considered a close contact with any individuals who have tested positive for COVID, including President Donald J. Trump.”

The vice president is still expected to attend and participate in the vice presidential debate against Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

Trump, who has been loathe to wear masks — and has indeed mocked his rivals for wearing the widely recommended face coverings — confirmed he and his wife’s positive diagnoses for the coronavirus in the early morning hours on Friday.

The news came hours after it was reported that Hope Hicks, a close adviser to the president who had traveled on Air Force One multiple times in the past week, had tested positive for the virus.

Since then, a handful of additional prominent Washington players have confirmed positive diagnoses for the virus.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, both Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, confirmed on Friday that they had also tested positive for COVID-19, days after they was seen at the White House meeting with Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Lee was seen mask in hand, not on face hugging and greeting people in the Rose Garden at the announcement of Barrett as Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Days later, both met with Judge Barrett and were photographed maskless and not socially distanced.

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White House Must Keep Working In All Events : Live Updates: Trump Tests Positive For Coronavirus : NPR

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters Friday at the White House about President Trump’s positive test for the coronavirus.

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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters Friday at the White House about President Trump’s positive test for the coronavirus.

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The White House must find a way to keep working and show that the government is still operating notwithstanding illness or the absence of the president, a group of former chiefs of staff said on Friday morning.

A bipartisan panel brought together for a virtual event by the Center for Presidential Transition said that President Trump and first lady Melania Trump’s positive coronavirus tests underscored the importance of establishing practices that, when needed, can continue without the president, because the work and problems of the nation don’t go away.

“The White House has to keep everything working no matter what’s going on,” said Andy Card, who was chief of staff to President George W. Bush. “You can’t be distracted by the president’s inability to attend meetings he would normally attend.”

White House officials must also keep in communication with the vice president and the leaders of the Cabinet, he said, because an event that incapacitates the president might trigger other problems.

“It’s a time when you have to be prepared for more unexpected things to happen,” Card said.

Mack McLarty, who was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, emphasized the importance of the vice president and the development of the ability for that person to work seamlessly within the administration.

Josh Bolten, who was another chief of staff to Bush, said he considered it important to communicate that the president continues to work, even if at a reduced capacity — as the current chief of staff, Mark Meadows, did Friday morning in comments to reporters.

Bolten and Denis McDonough, who was chief of staff to President Barack Obama, suggested the White House might try to find a way to get Trump into a situation in which TV cameras could show him.

McDonough also observed what he called the importance for the White House and other American officials to reach out to foreign capitals and assure them that U.S. commitments endure even though there may be a problem involving the president.

“We do have troops all around the world right now. We do have allies around the world,” he said. “I would expect communication with the Cabinet but also from the White House to our allies.”

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House Democrats Introduce Scaled-Back Coronavirus Aid Package : NPR

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduced a revised $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package after weeks of stalled talks.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduced a revised $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package after weeks of stalled talks.

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House Democrats have released a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response package as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attempt to revive long-stalled aid negotiations.

The legislation addresses many of Democrats’ top priorities, like additional money for testing and drug development, additional unemployment benefits and small business loans, that were included in the $3.4 trillion bill that passed the House in May. Some of the reduced cost comes from scaling back the duration of the benefits in order to come closer to compromise with Republicans.

Pelosi called the package an effort to follow through on the promise to work with Republicans who are seeking a narrower response.

“Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis facing America’s working families right now,” Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats. “We have been able to make critical additions and reduce the cost of the bill by shortening the time covered for now.”

The legislation would revive the expired $600 additional weekly federal unemployment benefit through January and lift caps on how long people can file for unemployment.

Democrats also included another round of direct payments of $1,200 per person and $500 per dependent, money to refresh the popular Paycheck Protection Program with new money for small business loans, additional money for food security programs and $436 billion in relief for states, local governments, tribes and territories.

Republicans balked at the $3.4 trillion package that passed the House in March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has proposed his own $300 billion bill, but that legislation failed in the Senate earlier this month.

This latest House bill would cost significantly less than the earlier bill from Democrats but it still includes several items that Republicans have already rejected. One controversial provision would temporarily lift a cap on state and local tax deductions that was part of the 2017 GOP tax overhaul. Republicans also reject the idea that state governments need more money from the federal government.

Pelosi is expected to resume talks with Mnuchin this week in hopes of reaching an agreement ahead of the election in November.

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Pelosi Prepares For Rare Chance House Could Decide Election : NPR

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is warning Democrats of an exceedingly rare scenario where the House may need to decide the presidential election in January.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is warning Democrats of an exceedingly rare scenario where the House may need to decide the presidential election in January.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is warning Democrats that they must win the majority, not just of the House of Representatives but a majority of each state delegation, in case the House is called upon to decide the election in January.

If the outcome of the election is not clear by Jan. 6, the decision goes to the House. But the vote is not as straightforward as Democrats having the majority of seats overall. Each state would get a single vote, which would be determined by the party that has the majority of members from that state.

Pelosi outlined the once far-fetched scenario in a letter to Democrats over the weekend. She called on her members to shift money to House Democrats’ fundraising arm, House Majority PAC, to help shore up campaign funds in battleground districts.

“We cannot leave anything to chance. House Majority PAC is doing everything it can to win more delegations for Democrats,” Pelosi said in the letter, sent from her campaign email. “It’s sad we have to have to plan this way, but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen.”

Pelosi said the letter is a response to comments President Trump made at a weekend rally in Pennsylvania where he discussed the possibility of Congress deciding the election.

“I’ve been working on this for a while, I’ve been working on almost every scheme he might have to steal the election,” Pelosi said Monday on MSNBC. “Anything we do to increase our numbers in the House, whether it’s state delegations or members of Congress wherever they are, will help us hold the House and enlarge our size, win the Senate and elect Joe Biden president of the United States on Election Day — or the few days that it takes to count thereafter.”

Trump told his supporters that he wants to avoid the election being decided by the Supreme Court or Congress.

“I don’t want to go back to Congress either, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress,” Trump said. “It’s counted one vote per state. So we actually have an advantage.”

Trump was referencing the current balance of state representation in the House. Republicans represent the majority of House members from 26 states; Democrats have the majority in 22 states. Another two, Michigan and Pennsylvania, are tied.

Congress hasn’t been called on to intervene in a presidential election at any time in modern history and only twice since the ratification of the 12th Amendment in 1804. The most recent congressional vote to decide the presidency was in 1877.

Pelosi called on Democrats to prepare for

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House Hearing On Homeland Threats : NPR

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

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A House committee has convened a hearing on threats to the homeland with top intelligence and security officials — albeit with some notable absences.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is not appearing after recently announcing changes to how members of Congress would be briefed on election threats. In a statement on Wednesday, he reiterated that he does not intend to give broad briefings “in order to protect sources and methods,” although he said he still will talk with small groups of select lawmakers.

In August, Ratcliffe said he would not give any in-person briefings, but recently agreed to hold more limited face-to-face meetings.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday is expected to hear from FBI Director Christopher Wray and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Christopher Miller. (Follow updates on the hearing here.)

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was subpoenaed to appear, too. The department sought to send acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli instead, but the committee rejected the request.

The status and duties of Wolf and Cuccinelli have been questioned by the watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, which opined last month that neither man is serving appropriately in his ostensible role with the agency because of irregularities involved with how they were named.

Cuccinelli said on Wednesday evening that the department’s position now is that Wolf, who has been performing the duties of DHS’s secretary for months and been an important deputy to President Trump, is a “pending nominee” for his job awaiting Senate confirmation. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for him to appear before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Cuccinelli said.

“In light of that precedent, DHS offered to accommodate [the panel’s] request to hear about threats. I had testimony prepared and had my schedule clear to show up at this morning’s hearing,” Cuccinelli said. “Instead, the committee majority decided that they would rather put on a show for the media. Instead of serving the American people and working to keep them safe, they would rather use the American people’s time and money to stage a political spectacle.”

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Live Updates: House Hearing On Homeland Threats : NPR

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images


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Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A House committee has convened a hearing on threats to the homeland with top intelligence and security officials — albeit with some notable absences.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is not appearing after recently announcing changes to how members of Congress would be briefed on election threats. In a statement on Wednesday, he reiterated that he does not intend to give broad briefings “in order to protect sources and methods,” although he said he still will talk with small groups of select lawmakers.

In August, Ratcliffe said he would not give any in-person briefings, but recently agreed to hold more limited face-to-face meetings.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday is expected to hear from FBI Director Christopher Wray and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Christopher Miller. (Follow updates on the hearing here.)

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was subpoenaed to appear, too. The department sought to send acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli instead, but the committee rejected the request.

The status and duties of Wolf and Cuccinelli have been questioned by the watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, which opined last month that neither man is serving appropriately in his ostensible role with the agency because of irregularities involved with how they were named.

Cuccinelli said on Wednesday evening that the department’s position now is that Wolf, who has been performing the duties of DHS’s secretary for months and been an important deputy to President Trump, is a “pending nominee” for his job awaiting Senate confirmation. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for him to appear before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Cuccinelli said.

“In light of that precedent, DHS offered to accommodate [the panel’s] request to hear about threats. I had testimony prepared and had my schedule clear to show up at this morning’s hearing,” Cuccinelli said. “Instead, the committee majority decided that they would rather put on a show for the media. Instead of serving the American people and working to keep them safe, they would rather use the American people’s time and money to stage a political spectacle.”

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