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Can Trump fire special counsel Mueller? Maybe, but the probe would go on.

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And some legal scholars have suggested another scenario: Trump could argue that Mueller is interfering with foreign relations and that the president therefore had separate authority to fire him.

Legal experts, as they often do, disagree about what Trump could do, and the courts have never provided an answer to a situation like this.

Rosenstein has repeatedly said he has confidence in Mueller and sees no grounds for firing the special counsel. If Trump ordered Rosenstein to do it anyway and Rosenstein refused, Trump would clearly have authority to fire the deputy attorney general.

Under an executive order spelling out the order of succession at the Justice Department, authority over Mueller would then fall to the associate attorney general, who was Rachel Brand. No successor to her has yet been confirmed.

Authority would then go to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, although that position is currently held by an acting official, then to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert Higdon, and then to the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Erin Nealy Cox.

 Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at the Justice Department in Washington on March 23. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Of course, any move to fire Mueller, either directly or indirectly, would have serious political consequences for the president.

Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, said, “Trump has all sorts of powers. That doesn’t mean exercising them is wise or comports with the rule of law. If he fires Mueller or Rosenstein to protect himself, it is an impeachable offense and will trigger a constitutional crisis.”

And firing the special counsel would not accomplish Trump’s goal of putting an end to the Russia meddling investigation. The probe would simply revert to the FBI and the Justice Department, where prosecutors and federal agents would continue the kind of work they were doing before the special counsel was appointed.

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DUP leader hits back at Theresa May Brexit deal ‘regret’ – ‘NI will remain part of UK!’

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NORTHERN IRELAND will choose to remain a part of the UK despite fears that Brexit has opened the doors for the region to leave, according to the DUP leader.

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Biden issues executive order expanding LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections

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President Joe Biden issued an executive order Wednesday night that will extend existing federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, called it “the most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a United States president.”

The order directs all federal agencies to implement the Supreme Court’s landmark 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, which established that LGBTQ people are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The order also builds on the high court’s decision, directing any federal agency with protections against discrimination based on sex to interpret those statutes to also protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Biden’s order states, “under Bostock’s reasoning,” laws that prohibit sex discrimination, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Fair Housing Act and Section 412 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, “prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, so long as the laws do not contain sufficient indications to the contrary.”

“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the executive order states. “Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes.”

Biden also acknowledged how discrimination against LGBTQ people “often overlaps with other forms of prohibited discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of race or disability.”

“For example, transgender Black Americans face unconscionably high levels of workplace discrimination, homelessness, and violence, including fatal violence,” the order states.

It then directs the head of each federal agency to work in consultation with the attorney general to develop a plan within 100 days to carry out the order.

‘A sigh of relief’

Advocacy groups said the move is a huge step forward after four years of Trump administration policies that rolled back — or attempted to roll back — protections for LGBTQ people, including rules from the Department of Health and Human Services that would’ve allowed discrimination against transgender people.

“I think it’s important for the government and for our country to be able to take advantage of the incredible contributions that people in the community have to give,” Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, told NBC News. “I’m excited about the fact that the incoming administration wants to ensure full inclusion, but also take advantage of all that the community has to offer.”

David of the Human Rights Campaign said the order will provide much-needed relief for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

“Today, millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their President and their government believe discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not only intolerable but illegal,” he said in a statement. “While detailed implementation across the federal government will take time, this Executive Order will begin to immediately change the lives of the millions of LGBTQ people seeking to be treated equally under the law.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the order “moves us another step toward a day when transgender people can openly live as who they are without being targeted for discrimination.” With it, she said, the legacy of Aimee Stephens, Don Zarda and Gerald Bostock — the LGBTQ plaintiffs in the landmark Bostock case — “grows larger.”

“They stood up against discrimination, and with its actions today the Biden administration is recognizing the righteousness of their cause and their bravery in the face of injustice,” Keisling said in a statement. Biden’s actions on the first day of his administration, she continued, “will help to improve the lives of millions of people.”

‘A comprehensive, intersectional approach’

Biden issued more than a dozen other executive orders Wednesday, many of which advocates said will also positively affect LGBTQ Americans.

An executive order aimed at “advancing racial equality and support for underserved communities” will establish the Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data to gather better data to “measure and advance equity,” among other actions. Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization, said data collection is key to better supporting queer youth.

“It is a true breath of fresh air to see President Biden prioritize LGBTQ non-discrimination protections and inclusive data collection on day one, along with several other key policy changes that will protect marginalized communities,” Brinton said in a statement. “At The Trevor Project, we know that ending LGBTQ youth suicide will require a comprehensive, intersectional approach, including new policies and programs aimed at eradicating risk factors for suicide like LGBTQ-based discrimination, mental health care disparities, and conversion therapy. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and both parties in Congress to tackle these issues and save young LGBTQ lives.”

An order to begin a coordinated Covid-19 response will also be “hugely important” to LGBTQ students, according to Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ youth.

“The fact is that the most vulnerable and marginalized students always take it the hardest when a system is not working,” Byard said. “Our schools are not serving our children right now effectively; they don’t have the resources they need to do so, and so the most vulnerable youth are suffering the most — LGBTQ+, immigrant, Black and brown students, students with disabilities.”

Byard said the Covid-19 order, along with several others, including the order preserving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program for young people who were brought to the country as children and who lack legal status, “are forms of relief that get at the heart of the pain at those intersections, and that’s hugely important.”

Some of Biden’s orders are reversals of previous Trump administration policies. For instance, the order to advance racial equity also reverses Trump’s Executive Order 13950, which prohibited diversity and inclusion training that promotes “divisive concepts” about race and sex. A federal court recently placed an injunction on enforcement of Trump’s order.

The Bostock order will also undo policies the Trump administration issued in its final days, such as a Health and Human Services Department rule that would have allowed federally contracted social services providers, such as adoption agencies, to discriminate against LGBTQ people. It will also prevent enforcement of a Justice Department memo issued Sunday that would have limited the scope of the Bostock decision so that it did not affect sports teams or bathrooms, according to The Wall Street Journal. The memo has since been removed from the department’s website.

Some advocates, in addition to applauding the Biden administration, are calling for further actions. The American Civil Liberties Union urged the administration to “take action to more fully recognize transgender and non-binary people” with an executive order that would allow transgender people to receive accurate IDs.

“Trans and non-binary people belong, and we need IDs that accurately reflect who we are so we can travel, apply for jobs, and enter public establishments without risk of harassment or harm,” LaLa Zannell, Trans Justice Campaign manager for the ACLU, said in a statement. “We know who we are, and we need the federal government to recognize who we are.”

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White House website allows users to specify pronouns for first time

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The day President Joe Biden was sworn in, the White House website was updated to allow visitors to specify what pronouns they use.

LGBTQ advocates see the change as a small but symbolic example of the Biden administration reaching out to transgender and nonbinary Americans.

On Wednesday, the contact form at WhiteHouse.gov added a drop-down menu with pronoun options, including “she/her,” “he/him,” and “they/them.” Users can also select “other,” and write in their own selections or indicate they “prefer not to share” their pronouns.

The list of prefixes has also been updated to include the gender-neutral “Mx.” along with “Mr.” “Mrs.” and “Ms.”

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, former White House LGBTQ liaison under the Obama administration and the first openly transgender person to work as a White House staffer, said, “It’s truly wonderful to see the White House so sensitively and prominently signal inclusion.”

“Allowing visitors, whether transgender, nonbinary or cisgender-identified, to indicate their preferred pronouns when visiting the home of President Biden, demonstrates the kind of welcoming place 1600 Pennsylvania will now be for all Americans,” she told NBC News.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, called the update “more than just a demonstration of allyship.”

“Research has shown that recognition and respect of our pronouns can make all the difference for our health and well being — especially when it comes to LGBTQ youth,” Ellis said in a statement.

Shortly after Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration, the White House website removed a page dedicated to LGBTQ rights that had been published during the Obama administration.

The Biden administration did not respond to a request for comment about whether the page would be restored. As of Thursday morning, it was still down. The White House did restore a Spanish-language translation of the website and add new accessibility options, The New York Times reported.

The Biden administration’s inclusive pronoun options are in sharp contrast to the Trump White House, which refused to use female pronouns when referring to Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman at the center of the landmark 2020 Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia.

A 2018 survey from the Pew Research Center found more than 40 percent of Americans believe forms should include gender options beyond “male and female.” And roughly 1 in 5 Americans said they know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, according to a separate Pew survey from 2019.

Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., recognize nonbinary gender markers on IDs and driver’s licenses and 13 allow such designations on birth certificates, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

One in 4 LGBTQ youth use pronouns or pronoun combinations that fall outside of the gender binary, according to The Trevor Project, a suicide-prevention hotline for queer youth. Most use some combination of conventional pronouns — “he and they” or “she and they,” for example — though 4 percent use “neopronouns,” including “ze/zir,” “xe/xim” and “fae/faer.”

“Respecting pronouns is part of creating a supportive and accepting environment, which impacts well-being and reduces suicide risk,” the Trevor Project said in a statement.

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