Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Politics

Ivanka Trump and her husband help thwart a rollback of gay rights

WASHINGTON — The two most influential social liberals in President Donald Trump's inner circle — daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner —helped kill a proposed executive order that would have scrapped Obama-era LGBT protections, according to people familiar with the issue.

A third, Gary D. Cohn, chairman of the president's National Economic Council, a Democrat who was brought to the West Wing by Kushner and reflects the socially liberal and economically conservative views of many Wall Street power brokers, privately told aides to the president that he was disturbed it was even being considered.

The executive order has exposed what is likely to be a persistent schism in Trump's paradoxical presidency: He is a cosmopolitan New Yorker who has long operated in an environment where sexual orientation is often an afterthought but is nonetheless beholden to the social conservatives who backed him overwhelmingly in 2016, despite reports of his crudeness and sexual misdeeds.

Kushner, a lifelong Democrat, and Ivanka Trump, an independent, travel in liberal social circles and have long supported LGBT rights. Neither had seen the order before details were leaked. They expressed their dissatisfaction to Donald Trump's other advisers, and then weighed in directly with the president, who opposes same-sex marriage but has spoken out against discrimination.

On Tuesday night, reports swirled that Trump would sign some version of the rollback as a concession to social conservatives before the president's announcement of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee. As a result, White House officials pushed out a statement asserting that Trump "is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community," adding that the president "continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election."

The draft order, circulated by religious conservatives allied with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, was one of about 250 edicts that have been sent to federal agencies for vetting.

Trump never seriously considered signing the order and did not need much convincing, people close to him said.

Still, conservatives inside the Trump camp pressured the president to consider a version of a "religious freedom" measure, similar to one supported by Pence in 2015 while he was the governor of Indiana, according to two senior administration officials.

Pence, however, did not personally push for the White House order, according to one of his allies.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump's opposition to the draft was first reported by Politico. It came on the heels of an announcement by the Nordstrom department store chain that it will scale back on featuring Ivanka Trump's clothing line from its stores, a public blow to a brand she has spent years cultivating.

A day after the White House quashed the religious freedom order, at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Donald Trump offered religious conservatives an olive branch by proposing to eliminate a law that bars churches with Internal Revenue Service charity designations from making political endorsements.

Some conservative leaders warned Trump that his decision to retain former President Barack Obama's order on LGBT rights could have far-reaching political implications.

"Our base would want to know who is responsible for what we believe is an issue of religious liberty — that would be of concern to us," said Bob Vander Plaats, chief executive of the Family Leader, a socially conservative organization.

"We have been consistent," Vander Plaats added. "We've cheered President Trump a lot. But on this one, our base is wondering why Obama's executive order would be allowed to stand?"

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, backed the draft order and said he believed Trump's opposition was only temporary. He pointed out that evangelicals were supportive of Trump during the campaign and that there would need to be reconciliation between his support for religious liberty and his decision to uphold the LGBT order.

"He gets it," Perkins said of the president. "They will have to fix it and they will. I'm confident they will. Am I concerned? No. Not at this point."

The topic of the order was a sensitive one in a West Wing that prides itself on decisiveness and bombast.

"There are a lot of ideas that are being floated out," Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, told reporters Thursday. "Part of it is, the president does all the time, he asks for input, he asks for ideas. And on a variety of subjects there are staffing procedures that go on where people have a thought or an idea and it goes through the process."

Comments
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18