The U.S. State Department has suspended all training programs for employees related to diversity and inclusion, an internal cable obtained by Reuters showed, after President Donald Trump directed federal agencies last month to end programs deemed divisive by the White House.
"Beginning Friday, October 23, 2020, the Department is temporarily pausing all training programs related to diversity and inclusion in accordance with Executive Order ... on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping," the cable said.
"The pause will allow time for the Department and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to review program content," it said.
Trump's Sept. 22 executive order forbid the teaching by federal agencies of "divisive concepts" including that the United States is "fundamentally racist or sexist."
The order followed a Sept. 4 memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget that told officials at federal agencies they could not use taxpayer dollars to fund "un-American propaganda sessions" that provided instruction about critical race theory, white privilege or "taught that the United States is an inherently racist or evil" country.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on the cable.
The move comes less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, in which the debate about racial injustice in the United States has been fueled by police killings of Black Americans that sparked nationwide protests over the summer.
During the first debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden, Trump defended his executive order saying the training programs were teaching people "very bad ideas."
"And really, they were teaching people to hate our country and I'm not going to do that," Trump said at the Sept. 29 debate. "They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place."
Biden, who has accused Trump of racism, leads by 8 percentage points nationally, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, with 51% of likely voters say they are backing the Democratic challenger while 43% are voting for the president.
At the pair's second debate, on Thursday, Trump denied the accusations and said he was least racist person in the room.