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Nick Ayers, 36, could replace John Kelly as Donald Trump’s chief of staff – National




Nick Ayers could almost be confused for a college fraternity brother as he flashes a broad grin in a selfie taken with Mike Pence just moments after the Indiana governor was named Donald Trump’s running mate.

In fact, the baby-faced campaign strategist in the white undershirt had a pivotal role in Trump’s selection of Pence in 2016. And two years later, Ayers’ bond with Pence is stronger than ever, as are his ties to the president.

A seasoned campaign veteran at age 36, Ayers is emerging as a leading contender to replace White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose departure has long been the subject of speculation.

If selected, Ayers would return a political mind to the role as Trump’s presidency enters a new, more perilous phase in which he fights for re-election while fending off new oversight efforts from a Democratic House.

READ MORE: Trump expected to fire chief of staff John Kelly, Homeland Security head

In any administration, the role of White House chief of staff is split between the responsibilities of supervising the White House and managing the man sitting in the Oval Office. Striking that balance in the turbulent times of Donald Trump has bedeviled both Kelly and his predecessor, Reince Priebus. If Ayers becomes the third person to tackle the job, it’ll be his most significant challenge — and one friends say he’s well-equipped to handle.

“He manages up as well as anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Phil Cox, a former colleague at the Republican Governor’s Association who bought Ayers’ political consulting business earlier this year.

WATCH: Trump says happy with ‘most of’ his cabinet, calls Mueller investigation a ‘hoax’ once more

Trump is said to have warmed to Ayers in part by watching the effectiveness of Pence’s largely independent political operation. The vice president’s chief of staff for the last 18 months, Ayers has earned the backing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law and senior advisers, for taking on the new role, White House officials said.

Ayers would be the youngest chief of staff since 34-year-old Hamilton Jordan served under Jimmy Carter.

But before Ayers can have his crack at leading the White House staff, he first has to overcome opposition from some who may soon work for him.

READ MORE: Trump reportedly considering a wide-ranging shakeup among White House

On Air Force One on Sunday as Trump returned to the U.S. from a turbulent two-day trip to Paris, aides argued to the president that Ayers was the wrong person for the job, according to two people familiar with the matter. More than a half-dozen administration aides spoke about Ayers on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive personnel matter.

In some corners of the White House, Ayers is viewed skeptically over how he has led Pence’s office, which operates largely independent of the Trump West Wing. Some in the White House blame Ayers for planting news stories critical of the administration or its strategies, while others have complaints about his efforts to circumvent the president’s political operation. Some aides have taken to calling him “Tricky Nicky.”

Ayers, a former aide to agriculture secretary and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, is blamed by some in the White House for orchestrating the president’s endorsement of the state’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp for governor, a Perdue ally whom they believe wasn’t the strongest candidate in the GOP primary. Republicans spent millions and deployed the president to defend the red state seat against a strong challenge from Democrat Stacey Abrams. Kemp holds a slight lead over Abrams and the Election Night results have yet to be certified.

READ MORE: Why Stacey Abrams refuses to concede the Georgia governor’s race to Brian Kemp

Ayers didn’t respond to a request for an interview. But allies said he is eager to take on the chief of staff job. He and Trump have been discussing the possibility of making the switch for months.

A Georgia native with a distinct southern twang, Ayers is the father of young triplets. His meteoric rise in GOP politics included a successful stint at the Republican Governors Association, time as campaign manager for Tim Pawlenty’s failed White House bid and a political consultant work for dozens of high profile Republicans across the country — including Pence.

“It didn’t seem to matter what he gets involved in, he immediately becomes incredibly valuable,” said Cox.

During the 2016 campaign, Ayers was seen as a Pence loyalist who also managed to have a good rapport with Trump’s insular campaign team.

WATCH: ‘Mike will you be my running mate?’ Trump asks Pence

“The campaign trusted him,” said Republican operative Brian Baker, president of the pro-Trump Future 45 Super PAC. “He was a rare guy who was able to work with both teams.”

Before he joined the administration, Ayers was among the founders of the pro-Trump political group America First Policies, which works in concert with Pence’s political operation.

WATCH: White House won’t give numbers on ‘diverse staff’ amid Omarosa comments on lack of diversity

Allies said that while Ayers isn’t as deeply versed in foreign policy as some of his predecessors, he had developed experience advising Pence on global affairs. He has been a frequent participant in Trump’s daily intelligence briefings, occasionally even when Pence wasn’t present.

The timing of Kelly’s expected departure isn’t clear, though White House aides predict it will occur in tandem with the anticipated exit of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the coming months.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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