Politics & Government

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Before any hard battle, it's common to seek a little spiritual guidance.

In preparation for the coming fight this fall to overhaul the entire federal tax code, a group of House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee traveled this week to Rancho del Cielo — the ranch of former President Ronald Reagan, outside Santa Barbara, Calif.

The ranch is where Reagan signed one of his major tax cuts into law, and the GOP is working this month to capture some of that Reagan-era magic to deliver a modern tax bill of its own.

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Of course in times of confusion and incomprehension, we turn to NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Ron, thanks for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

Rep. Charlie Dent On Steve Bannon's Ouster

Aug 19, 2017

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What's Next For Bannon

Aug 19, 2017

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There is a telling photo that has gotten some attention in social media after Steve Bannon's exit as President Trump's chief strategist. (You can see it above.)

It shows President Trump behind the desk in the Oval Office, surrounded by his top advisers: Seated are Vice President Pence and national security adviser Mike Flynn; standing, from left to right, are chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer.

That was Jan. 28, eight days after Trump was inaugurated.

Today, only Pence remains.

While President Trump spent the week mired in controversy, Vice President Pence was on a five-day tour of Latin America. He might as well have been in an alternate universe, one where Trump always says the right things in the right way and leads with broad shoulders.

Overseas, Pence has taken on the role of Chief Trump Translator, offering reassurance to allies in soothing tones while projecting unflinching loyalty to the president by quoting him repeatedly and with reverence.

On Friday, three well-known charities — the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen — announced they are canceling plans for fundraising events at President Trump's Palm Beach country club, Mar-a-Lago.

The three joined a growing list of nonprofits that have severed ties with the exclusive, Trump-owned resort. Others include the Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society.

Updated August 19.

President Trump's belated and halfhearted denunciation of the hate groups that marched in Charlottesville, Virginia., has cost him the support of numerous business leaders and fellow Republicans and prompted at least a half-dozen nonprofit organizations to cancel planned fundraising events at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

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On Tuesday afternoon, three days after violent clashes between white nationalists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., President Trump insisted that both sides were to blame.

A reporter asked the president if he meant to put what he called the "alt-left" and white supremacists on the same moral plane.

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested more than 400 people in an operation targeting undocumented parents and guardians who allegedly paid smugglers to bring their children to the U.S., putting them in grave danger. An ICE spokesman tells NPR the domestic phase of its Human Smuggling Disruption Initiative concluded on Friday. He said the "surge initiative" will now shift its focus to the transnational smuggling organizations that bring the children to the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Across the country, the debate continues over removing Confederate monuments. But one town in Kentucky is welcoming a Confederate statue. Jake Ryan of member station WFPL reports on why.

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