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President Donald Trump signed an executive order late Friday to cut the number of government advisory committees by a third across all federal agencies, a move that the White House said is long overdue and necessary to ensure good stewardship of taxpayers’ money.

But critics said it is the Trump administration’s latest effort to undermine science-based and fact-supported decision-making.

“This is another example of how disconnected the Trump administration is from the needs of the American people and how to protect them from harm,” said Mustafa Ali, who resigned in 2017 as the senior adviser for environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Experts on the advisory committees, which were formalized under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in 1972, give the executive branch input on issues ranging from high-level nuclear waste disposal, the depletion of atmospheric ozone, AIDS, drug addiction, school improvement and housing.

The administration has for two years been “shrinking and restricting the role of federal science advisory committees,” said Gretchen Goldman, the research director with the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a statement. “Now they’re removing the possibility of even making decisions based on robust science advice. It’s no longer death by a thousand cuts. It’s taking a knife to the jugular.”

But White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told NBC News over email that the cuts were long overdue.

“A government-wide review of FACA committees has not been done since 1993, and the President believes it is time to once more review and eliminate ones that are not relevant and providing valuable services so that we are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” Deere wrote.

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Boris, sign him up! Jacob Rees-Mogg offers to join new Cabinet – ‘I will do anything’

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JACOB REES-MOGG has vowed to “do anything” to help incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the former London Mayor secured a landslide victory over Jeremy Hunt in the Tory leadership contest.

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Search warrants issued for phones in Puerto Rico chat scandal

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A day after more than half a million Puerto Ricans participated in a protest demanding the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the island’s Justice Department confirmed to NBC News that it had issued search warrants to confiscate the cellphones of several people who participated in leaked private message chats with the governor.

The contents of the chats have triggered unprecedented mass protests and calls for Rosselló’s ouster.

The warrants come a week after only a handful of members in the chat voluntarily surrendered their cellphones to Justice officials as part of an investigation into possible conflicts of interest and law violations stemming from the leaked messages.

Telemundo Puerto Rico reported on Tuesday that authorities had confiscated the phones of Luis Rivera Marín, Rosselló’s secretary of state; Christian Sobrino, who held a series of economic posts; Raúl Maldonado, former chief financial officer; one-time communications aides Carlos Bermúdez and Rafael Cerame; Edwin Miranda, a communications consultant; Public Affairs Secretary Anthony Maceira; and Elías Sánchez, a lobbyist and Rosselló’s former campaign director.

Mariana Cobián, a Justice Department spokesperson, could only confirm to NBC News that warrants were taking place, but stated that they could not provide more details because of it’s an ongoing investigation.

The chats had 12 members, including Rosselló, who was one of the chat’s administrators.

No warrants were reportedly issued to seize Rosselló’s phone, who according to multiple local reports, had not complied with Justice Department requests last week.

Alfonso Orona, Rosselló’s former chief legal officer; Ramón Rosario, former public affairs secretary; and Interior Secretary Ricardo Llerandi complied last week with the Justice Department’s orders, according to Telemundo.

Justice officials launched the investigation shortly after the island’s Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages of the chats showing public officials, lobbyists and others discussing public policy issues and party politics.

Days later, Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez announced plans to recuse herself from participating in the investigation since she was a subject of conversation in the leaked chats.

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Tory Leader LIVE: Johnson assembles Brexit dream team – David Frost chosen as EU advisor

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BORIS JOHNSON is starting to assemble his Brexit dream team as he begins his new role as Prime Minister.

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