Workers came to the Maryland State House grounds after midnight on Friday to dismantle a controversial statue of Supreme Court justice and segregationist Roger B. Taney, the latest ripple effect from the deadly violence at a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville.
Activists had sought for years to remove the 145-year-old statue from the State House complex in Annapolis, saying that to honor Taney — the chief justice whose 1857 Dred Scott decision defended slavery and said blacks could never be U.S. citizens — was hurtful and wrong.
But top state politicians, including Gov. Larry Hogan (R), defended the memorial as an important piece of Maryland history. Until Charlottesville.
Hogan said his revulsion at the demonstration in Virginia, purportedly in defense of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, prompted him to change his mind about the Taney statute and push for its removal.
“We can’t wipe out all of our history, nor should we try to,” the governor said Thursday. “But when it reaches the point where some of these symbols, whether they have historical significance or not, when they become a focal point for racism and violence, then it’s time to do something about it.”
The State House Trust board, which Hogan chairs, voted Wednesday to remove the statue. Thursday night, police blocked off the streets around the State House complex. Soon, a crane and two flatbed trucks arrived.
More than two dozen bystanders looked on as a crew began removing the memorial from its base. Among them was Jolene Ivey, an African American former state delegate from Prince George’s County who began advocating a decade ago for the state to take down the statue. She said that when the legislature voted to erect the statue, a few years after the Civil War, lawmakers were quoted calling the Dred Scott decision “just, righteous and right.”
“How in the world could we continue to have it at the doors of the State House?” Ivey said. “Not at this time.”
As the crane’s arm extended toward the monument shortly after 1 a.m., sprinklers were activated on the State House lawn, briefly disrupting the effort. After work resumed, the crane lifted the statue and maneuvered it to a flatbed truck, where it was wrapped in a tarp and driven away around 2:20 a.m.
The onlookers, who had been largely quiet, chanted “Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.” Some said Taney’s likeness appeared to be bowing its head in shame as workers pulled straps around the frame.
“It’s just a bad statue overall,” said Robb Tufts, 43, of Annapolis. “We deserve to celebrate the heroes of Maryland, not the villains of history.”
Cookie Washington, an African American who turned 59 on Friday and has lived in Annapolis since childhood, said the demise of the statue “felt like a birthday treat.”
“With what’s happening in this country lately, it doesn’t feel welcoming for everyone,” she said. “I’m glad to see this.”
The monument was to be placed in an undisclosed state storage facility, Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said. Its base remained on the lawn, covered by a wooden box.
A different statue of Taney and three Confederate memorials were taken down in Baltimore early Wednesday.
President Trump, who has made conflicting statements about who is to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, has decried such removals, saying Thursday that the “history and culture of our great country” was “being ripped apart.”
Hogan countered that the president “probably should stop talking about the issue because not very many people are agreeing with him these days.”
Not everyone agreed with Hogan, either. Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) lashed out at the governor in a letter Thursday for not holding a public hearing on whether to remove the statue.
Miller, an avid reader of history who also sits on the State House Trust board, said the memorial should stay put to help educate people about the past. He credited Taney for “anti-slavery words and actions,” saying that “unlike George Washington who freed his slaves upon his death, Taney freed his slaves early in his life.” He also noted Taney’s many roles in public service, including state lawmaker and attorney general, U.S. secretary of war, U.S. attorney general and U.S. treasury secretary.
Voting by email — the board’s traditional way of doing business — was “just plain wrong,” Miller wrote, adding that the matter was “of such consequence that the transparency of a public meeting and public conversation should have occurred.”
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who is also on the board and voted to remove the statue, said he was “pleased” it was gone. “One hundred and fifty two years after the end of the Civil War, we don’t need a symbol on the front of the Maryland State House that continues to divide people,” he said in a statement.
Conservative blogger Greg Kline, describing himself as a “proud and unabashed apologist” for Hogan, wrote on RedMaryland.com that for once he could not support the governor. “Here are words I thought I would never write: Senate President Mike Miller is exactly right on this issue and Governor Hogan is lamentably wrong,” Kline wrote.
The governor also received some critical comments on his Facebook page. “I voted for Hogan once,” Pat Rollins wrote. “Fool me once. He is a coward for removing that statue of Taney in the middle of the night.”
Maryland placed the Taney statue on the lawn of the capitol complex in 1872. Since then, it has added interpretive plaques explaining the Dred Scott opinion and erected a statue of Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native who was the first African American Supreme Court justice, on the opposite side of the State House. The trust agreed last year to erect statues in the State House honoring abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
Benjamin Jealous, the former NAACP president who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Hogan in 2018, says he would push to take down all Confederate statues in the state if he is elected.“There’s no room for symbols of hate in our state,” he said.
But Hogan said Friday that choice is up to localities. “We’re not going to tell every jurisdiction what to do,” he said. “They have to make the decision for themselves.”
(CNN) President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has been fired, multiple White House officials told CNN on Friday.
Sources told CNN that Bannon’s ouster had been in the works for two weeks and a source said that while Bannon was given the option to resign, he was ultimately forced out. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Bannon’s departure, but claimed the decision for him to leave was mutual.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” Sanders said in a statement.
The President has privately stewed over Bannon in recent days, including Thursday night from his golf course in New Jersey. He was furious with his chief strategist after he was quoted in an interview with the American Prospect contradicting Trump on North Korea and asserting that Bannon was able to make personnel changes at the State Department.
On Saturday morning, however, the President tweeted out his thanks to Bannon: “I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks S.”
Bannon’s exit comes just seven months after Trump took office and three weeks after retired Gen. Kelly took over as chief of staff, looking to instill order in a chaotic White House beset by internal divisions, staff infighting and a storm of controversies.
Bannon’s exit meant one of the White House’s most controversial staffers, the man generally perceived as the driving force behind Trump’s “nationalist” ideology, would no longer be at the center of the Trump universe.
Bannon joined Trump’s campaign last year, moving from the sidelines as one of Trump’s top cheerleaders to a position atop his campaign apparatus.
He did not travel with the President during the first week of what White House officials described as a “working vacation” at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Instead Bannon remained in Washington where he worked out of a temporary office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as the West Wing underwent renovations.
Bannon was supposed to be fired two weeks ago, a White House official told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, but it was put off.
CNN reports the President equivocated after an initial plan was to fire Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at same time, the official says, because Rep. Mark Meadows, the influential chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and others urged Trump to keep him on board.
The interview this week was enough for Meadows to change his view, a person close to him says.
What Bannon is thinking
After his firing Friday, Bannon spoke to The Weekly Standard, making a pointed case that the Trump presidency that his brand of populist, right-wing conservatives helped make possible is now “over.”
“We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency,” Bannon told The Weekly Standard. “But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
The question now is whether Bannon will be an ally or a thorn in the side of the Trump administration outside the White House, where he has apparently already returned to his role as head of Breitbart, the right-wing news site he ran until he joined Trump’s campaign a year ago.
However that unfolds, Bannon is expected to remain tightly connected to the billionaire conservative father-daughter pair Robert and Rebekah Mercer, who are major investors in Breitbart News and top Trump donors.
Bannon returned to the role of executive chairman of Breitbart News and chaired the evening editorial meeting, the publication’s White House correspondent reported Friday evening.
Both Bannon and Trump spoke with the Mercers in recent days, a White House official said.
A White House ally who has talked to Bannon said the outgoing chief strategist does not want to go to war with Trump. Bannon is making that clear to close associates in response to Breitbart editor Joel Pollak tweeting #WAR.
“That’s not where Steve’s head is at,” this source said. “He’s been fighting for the exact same things that the President has been fighting for.”
This source quoted Bannon as saying “I want (Trump) to succeed.”
Still, as his firing appeared increasingly likely, Bannon downplayed concerns about being booted from the White House and argued that he would be a more powerful force from the outside, sources close to Bannon said.
He has privately told associates he would return to his “killing machine” — Breitbart — if he was forced to leave for the White House and has said he would be able to more easily target some of his White House rivals — like chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster — from the outside, the sources said.
Bannon has also worked in recent weeks to put the pieces in place for his agenda to live on without him at the White House, working on hardline trade initiatives in his final weeks.
After pushing the President to start the process of investigating Chinese trade abuses, Bannon also laid the groundwork for a series of aggressive trade actions designed to impose a harder line against China, the sources said.
In his final days at the White House, Bannon was continuing to work up schedules for the rollout of trade initiatives that would come in September, long after he expected to be forced from the White House, the sources said.
“We’re going to run the tables on these guys,” Bannon told The American Prospect in an interview earlier this week.
A quick and contentious tenure.
Bannon’s turbulent White House tenure was marked by controversy.
In the administration, Bannon frequently butted heads with other advisers to the President, feuding with son-in-law and senior adviser Jared
Kushner, chief economic adviser Cohn and other more moderate members of the President’s administration whom Bannon branded as “globalists.”
Bannon was often suspected by colleagues of badmouthing them to reporters and he rubbed colleagues the wrong way by attempting to ramrod his ideological positions.
“Steve was never a team player,” a senior administration official said.
Bannon viewed himself as the populist defender of Trump’s campaign promises in the White House, working daily to tick off items from the list of promises that hung on the walls of his West Wing office.
Bannon focused especially on pushing a hardline trade agenda, recently working to cue up a series of trade policies to aggressively target Chinese foreign trade abuses and work toward rebalancing the trading relationship between the US and China.
Bannon was an influential voice inside the White House, feeding and encouraging Trump’s nationalist and populist instincts.
In the process, he garnered an infamous reputation as a puppet master pulling the strings in the Oval Office, with pop culture portrayals ranging from the moniker “President Bannon” to his depiction as the grim reaper on “Saturday Night Live.” Those portrayals — coupled with a Time Magazine cover that declared him “the great manipulator” — often angered Trump, who chafes at being outshined.
But the reality is that while Bannon was an influential figure at Trump’s side, he was hardly the all-powerful aide so many sought to portray him as.
He did not always come out victorious in his feuds with fellow White House aides and Trump did not always heed his counsel.
Still, Bannon served as a daily reminder to Trump of his populist campaign promises and his bellicose political instincts. Bannon’s rivals in the White House argued that he encouraged the President’s worst instincts, while his allies said he was keeping the soul of Trump’s movement alive.
The fiery chief strategist also led the charge against proposals by national security officials to deepen US military involvement in Afghanistan, feuding vocally during meetings of the National Security Council with McMaster and working behind the scenes to water down hawkish proposals for troop increases and a longer-term US military commitment.
The President is meeting Friday with members of his national security team at Camp David to consider options for the future of the US war in Afghanistan as he nears a decision, but Bannon is not there — and was not scheduled to be, based on a list of attendees the White House sent out Friday morning.
This story is breaking and will update with additional news.
CORRECTION: This graphic has been updated to reflect Shaub’s duration on staff for the Trump administration. He was on staff 180 days.
CLARIFICATION: This graphic has been updated to clarify Scaramucci’s and Comey’s duration on staff based on the their start and end dates. They stayed on staff 11 days and 110 days, respectively.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Jeff Zeleny, Miranda Green, Gloria Borger and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.
(Reuters) – Three U.S. pension funds sued six of the world’s largest banks on Thursday, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and JP Morgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), accusing them of conspiring to stifle competition in the more than $1 trillion stock lending market.
In the lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court, the funds accused the banks of boycotting start-up lending platforms by threatening and intimidating their potential clients. The defendants include Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Credit Suisse AG CSAG.UL, Morgan Stanley (MS.N), UBS AG (UBSG.S), Goldman and JP Morgan.
The Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System, Orange County Employees’ Retirement System and Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association said in the lawsuit that the banks have cornered the market on stock lending in violation of federal antitrust law.
“Through various improper means, the likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have for years colluded to maintain their power over this little-known-but-lucrative corner of Wall Street,” said Michael Eisenkraft, a lawyer for the funds and partner with Cohen Milstein.
Representatives of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan declined to comment. The other banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The pension funds said collusion by the banks harms investors and retirees by forcing them to pay high fees to engage in stock lending.
Stock lending is related to short selling and involves lending a stock to an investor or firm through a broker or dealer. Pension funds and other institutional investors frequently lend stock to hedge funds.
In short selling, a security that is not owned or has been borrowed is sold with the idea that it can be bought at a future date at a lower price.
The funds claimed in the lawsuit that the defendants conspired to take down upstart stock lending platforms AQS, which was developed by Quadriserv Inc, and SL-x, which would have allowed lenders and borrowers to interact directly.
The lawsuit claimed that in 2012 Goldman Sachs threatened to stop doing business with Bank of New York (BNY) Mellon if it continued to support the AQS platform and that the bank agreed to stop using it. BNY Mellon declined to comment.
The lawsuit said that through a joint project called EquiLend LLC, the banks purchased SL-x’s intellectual property and shelved it, according to the lawsuit. The funds accused the banks of establishing EquiLend in 2001 to safeguard their interests in the stock lending market.
A spokesman for EquiLend, which is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, declined to comment.
LONDON (Reuters) – The yen was the major mover among the G10 group of developed world currencies on Friday, gaining another half percent against the dollar as nerves over stock market valuations and the future of an 8-year global rally seeped into other assets.
The euro had recovered all of the ground it lost after European Central Bank policymakers warned of an overshoot in the currency in the minutes on Thursday from last month’s policy meeting, trading 0.2 percent higher at $1.1748.
Concerns over President Donald Trump’s ability to push through the pro-growth measures financial investors had expected at the start of this year were at the heart of a second daily 1 percent loss for Wall Street on Thursday.
That drove flows into the traditional security of the yen and the Swiss franc, with nerves around another attack claimed by Islamic State, this time in Barcelona, feeding into the shaky mood.
Despite a recovery in the last fortnight, the dollar index that measures its broader strength against a basket of currencies is still just 1 percent above 13-month lows hit at the start of August.
“With President Trump’s support from both within and outside of the White House waning, the uncertain US political environment is likely to keep the dollar pinned down at these low levels,” said Viraj Patel, a strategist with ING in London.
“It is difficult to find any other domestic catalyst to more than offset this negative factor and drive the dollar higher in the near term.”
The dollar traded briefly below 109 yen per dollar before recovering to 109.13 yen. The dollar index, down almost a third of a percent in early trade had recovered to 93.508 by 0937 GMT, down 0.1 percent on the day.
The yen often comes into favour in times of market stress, partly due to expectations that Japanese investors will eventually repatriate their overseas assets if such market turmoil persists.
U.S. equity markets, however, were set to open flat on Friday and there were voices suggesting their gains had run their course for the moment.
“We expect the JPY and CHF to be relatively stable against the USD unless geopolitical risks intensify,” HSBC strategist Daragh Maher said in a note to clients.
He also called for a weaker euro after Thursday’s warning on the currency’s strength from the ECB, and closed the bank’s existing “buy” recommendation for the euro against sterling.
“Tactically, the euro is looking vulnerable,” he said.
“The rally this year has been impressive but August has seen some of the upward momentum fade. Positive news is generating less of an impact and the latest batch of ECB minutes show a growing disquiet with EUR strength.”