Right-wing Rabbi’s White House Selfie Exposes Bannon’s To-do List

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The Rabbi Shmuley and Steve Bannon selfie.
The Rabbi Shmuley and Steve Bannon selfie.Credit: Twitter / @RabbiShmuley

The background of the selfie of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon, taken on Tuesday in the latter’s office, was more important than the photograph itself. After all, this wasn’t the first time the right-wing U.S. rabbi and Breitbart News contributor had tweeted out a picture of himself with the former Breitbart chairman.

The latest image, however, showed a whiteboard with a long list of President Donald Trump’s election promises, and their status, confirming the rumored board’s existence and in some cases contradicting administration claims and current policy.

Most damaging, perhaps, was the first of more than 15 pledges on immigration - “Cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities,” referring to municipalities that do not cooperate with federal deportations of undocumented immigrants. This is a pledge that Trump indeed made during his campaign, but one that his administration has since walked back to some extent because of legal challenges.

Boteach, a best-selling author of self-help books and a some-time television host, is known for his close ties to billionaire U.S. donor Sheldon Adelson and his blistering criticism of the Obama administration. He was attending the first Israeli Independence Day event ever held at the White House, together with many prominent Jewish leaders.

Trump’s promise to to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is on the whiteboard, but the item is not fully visible. Vice President Michael Pence said at the Independence Day reception that the president was “seriously considering” the move, and Trump himself has stated recently that he doesn’t want to discuss the issue.

Also on the board is Trump’s unfulfilled campaign promise to cancel the nuclear deal with Iran. While his administration has taken a tough stance against Iran, it has not withdrawn from the agreement and last month it told Congress that Iran was complying with it.

Pledges on immigration issues that are checkmarked to indicate that they have been completed include “Suspend immigration from terror prone regions, “Suspend the Syrian refugee program” and “Hire 5,000 more border patrol agents.”

On the board’s left side, parts of which are obscured by Bannon’s head in the photo with Boteach, are pledges on tax reform, infrastructure and Obamacare, referring to the health care overhaul that former President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. While other campaign promises in the economic sphere are checkmarked, “Repeal and replace Obamacare” is not. The Trump administration is struggling to garner congressional support for its alternative health care bill.

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