AP News in Brief 03-07-18

  • White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn is leaving the White House after breaking with President Donald Trump on trade policy. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, has been the leading internal opponent to Trump’s planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP PHOTO)

Trump economic aide departs after trade disagreement

WASHINGTON — Top economic adviser Gary Cohn is leaving the White House after breaking with President Donald Trump on trade policy, the latest in a string of high-level departures from the West Wing.


Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, has been the leading internal opponent to Trump’s planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, working to orchestrate an eleventh-hour effort in recent days to get Trump to reverse course. But Trump resisted those efforts, and reiterated Tuesday he will be imposing tariffs in the coming days.

Cohn’s departure comes amid a period of unparalleled tumult in the Trump administration, and aides worry that more staffers may soon head for the doors.

The announcement came hours after Trump denied there was chaos in the White House. Trump maintained that his White House has “tremendous energy,” but multiple White House officials said Trump has been urging anxious aides to stay.

“Everyone wants to work in the White House,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. “They all want a piece of the Oval Office.”

Trump says he’ll push tariffs despite pressure from GOP

WASHINGTON — Warning of economic fallout, congressional Republicans and industry groups pressed President Donald Trump on Tuesday to narrow his plan for across-the-board tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. Trump appeared unmoved, declaring: “Trade wars aren’t so bad.”

The president said he planned to move forward with special tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, contending the U.S. has long been “mistreated” in trade deals.

“We’re doing tariffs on steel. We cannot lose our steel industry. It’s a fraction of what it once was. And we can’t lose our aluminum industry,” Trump said during a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

The president’s pledge for action, which would be in line with a one of his campaign promises, came after House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin called for a “more surgical approach” that would help avert a potentially dangerous trade war. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said there was concern Trump’s plan could lead to such disruptive turmoil.

West Virginia teachers cheer pay hike deal to end walkout

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s striking teachers cheered, sang and wept joyfully Tuesday as lawmakers acted to end a nine-day classroom walkout, ceding them 5 percent pay hikes that are also being extended to all state workers.

A huge crowd of teachers packing the Capitol jumped up and down, chanted “We love our kids!” and sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” The settlement came on the ninth day of a crippling strike that had idled hundreds of thousands of students, forced parents to scramble for child care and cast a spotlight on government dysfunction in one of the poorest states in the nation.

State schools Superintendent Steve Paine said in a statement he was “pleased that our students, teachers and service personnel will return to school” on Wednesday.

“We know that the end is in sight,” said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association. “We know that they’re going to be relieved to do what they love best, and that’s taking care of the kids and educating the kids of West Virginia.”

Tillerson heads to Africa with explaining to do for Trump

WASHINGTON — As far as Africa’s concerned, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Trump administration have some explaining to do.

President Donald Trump’s description of “shithole countries” in January was greeted with a mix of horror and outrage in Africa, where many don’t know what to think about the U.S. president — or what he thinks of them. He’s rarely spoken about priorities for the continent, which garnered a mere seven paragraphs on the very last pages of Trump’s National Security Strategy.

It falls to Tillerson to mend the damage as he travels to the continent on Tuesday, becoming the most senior U.S. official to set foot there since Trump took office more than a year ago.

Tillerson, in a speech laying out the administration’s Africa policy, said the continent’s rapid economic growth and fast-rising populations mean its future is increasingly linked to America’s. He said the U.S. was committed to helping, but that prosperity and basic stability would be impossible until the security situation is brought under control.

Nashville mayor resigns after affair, pleads guilty to theft

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mayor Megan Barry, a one-time rising star in the Democratic Party with big plans to remake Nashville, resigned Tuesday after pleading guilty to cheating the city out of thousands of dollars to carry on an affair with her bodyguard.

The resignation marked a swift fall for Barry, who stunned the city in late January when she confessed to an extramarital relationship with the former head of her security detail.

“While my time today as your mayor concludes, my unwavering love and sincere affection for this wonderful city and its great people will never come to an end,” the 54-year-old Barry said at a news conference shortly after appearing before a judge. She did not take questions.

Barry and her former bodyguard, police Sgt. Robert Forrest, separately pleaded guilty to felony theft. Barry’s resignation was part of a plea bargain with prosecutors. She and Forrest were sentenced to three years’ probation.

Barry also agreed to reimburse the city $11,000, while Forrest will return $45,000 that authorities said was paid to him in salary or overtime when he was not actually performing his duties as security chief.

A state investigation into the matter was closed after the plea deal, essentially ending the case.

Experts: Prosecutors get edge if accusers testify vs. Cosby

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Letting jurors hear from some of Bill Cosby’s dozens of accusers at his looming retrial would sharpen the prosecution’s he-said-she-said case into a sweeping referendum on five-decades of alleged misconduct while sending his lawyers scrambling to dent their credibility, legal experts said Tuesday after a court battle over the potential witnesses.

Prosecutors are eager to widen the scope of Cosby’s April 2 retrial as they attempt to portray the once-beloved entertainment icon as one of Hollywood’s biggest serial predators who made a sadistic habit of drugging and molesting women.

Judge Steven O’Neill barred prosecutors from mentioning Cosby’s past and allowed just one other accuser to testify at his trial last year that ended in a hung jury.


O’Neill did not immediately rule Tuesday on arguments made by prosecutors and defense lawyers on how many, if any, of Cosby’s other accusers will be allowed to take the stand. He’s also yet to rule on whether the defense can mention details of a financial settlement Cosby paid in 2006 to the accuser in his criminal case, Andrea Constand.

By wire sources

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