Trump keeps trying to gut program honoring ambassador killed in Benghazi


Republicans have long tried to use Ambassador Chris Stevens's death to attack Democrats.

Donald Trump has removed all funding in his proposed 2021 fiscal year budget for a nonprofit backed by the State Department that is designed to honor J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack.

The proposed budget for the State Department cuts $5 million designated for the Stevens Initiative, which provides for virtual international exchanges among young people and was developed in close partnership with Stevens' family. According to the group's website, it aims to make "life-changing, cross-cultural experiences available to a large number of young people in sustained and meaningful ways."

The Trump administration made two previous attempts to defund the program in past budget proposals. In both instances, Congress restored the money.

Republicans for years have invoked Stevens' death as a way to attack Democrats, specifically President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who they claim are responsible. Republican-led congressional committees have pushed for further investigations and hearings into the attack, despite multiple probes clearing the Obama administration of wrongdoing.

In September 2015, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is now the House Minority Leader, admitted to Fox News that the party sought to use the Benghazi attack to hurt Clinton's political future. The conservative news network itself spent hundreds of hours promoting bogus stories related to Benghazi.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump invoked Benghazi to attack Clinton.

"With Benghazi and with our ambassador, remember, that's all Hillary Clinton, folks," he told attendees at a rally in May that year.

The decision to pull funding for the Stevens Initiative is one of several campaigns being spearheaded by Trump to undo Obama's legacy. Most recently, the administration chose to advocate the use of anti-personnel landmines, which have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians across the globe, rolling back a 2014 policy implemented by Trump's predecessor.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham defended the decision at the time, saying Trump reversed the policy in order to "support and equip our troops so that they will forever remain the greatest fighting force in the world."

According to experts, the U.S. military has not used landmines in military operation for nearly 30 years.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.