A Muslim woman gets her photo taken with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump at the U.S. embassy's cultural center in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Dita Alangkara/AP)

THE BIG IDEA: One year ago tonight, during a rally on an aircraft carrier in South Carolina that was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Donald Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States.

The president-elect made the announcement five days after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino and 24 hours after Barack Obama used an Oval Office address to urge tolerance, saying the fight against terrorism must “not be defined as a war between America and Islam.”

Trump read aloud a prepared statement that he had dictated to his spokeswoman. “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said, speaking in the third person.

“We have no choice,” he added, repeating that line three times to the crowd aboard the retired USS Yorktown. “This is pretty heavy stuff. It is common sense, and we’ve got to do it.”

-- It was not an act. Trump’s concern about Syrian refugees entering the U.S. without proper vetting and his personal discomfort with Muslim radicalization is genuine and deeply felt, according to several people who have spoken with him directly. Much of what he said during his rallies was improvisational, and he certainly campaigned by the seat of his pants from time to time. But he thought the Muslim ban through, heard out objections from his advisers and spoke on the phone with several people before making the announcement.

Being in New York during the Sept. 11 attacks profoundly shaped Trump’s world view. It also changed the lives of his closest advisers. His campaign manager last December was Corey Lewandowski. One of Corey’s close friends died on the plane that crashed into the South Tower; Lewandowski went on to marry his friend's widow. Michael Glassner, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, had worked in the World Trade Center and changed jobs just before 9/11. (Jenna Johnson explored these influences back in June.)

-- But Trump’s political instincts were certainly at play, as well. He saw an opportunity to exploit the fears of the American people, and he captured it. He saw a rising tide of xenophobia and prejudice across the country, and he swam with the current.

Because he has few core principles, beyond winning, Trump was perfectly willing to stake out a position that he knew his major Republican rivals – for constitutional, legal, moral, practical and national security reasons – would never be willing to embrace. That gave him a textbook wedge issue, which worked to his advantage throughout the primaries.

"I've had good instincts in life, and a lot of this is instinct," Trump told The Post in an interview later, adding that three of his Republican primary rivals "confidentially" told him that they agreed with the ban but could not publicly say so.

Indeed, as Trump got into the SUV after his rally last Dec. 7, he turned to his staff and noted how the crowd had reacted when he read them the statement. "Well, there's your poll,” he said. “That's how people feel about this!”

-- The next morning’s 202 predicted that Trump would get a short-term boost in the polls (which was right) but prove fatal in the long-term (which was obviously wrong).

Why? Because during the general election phase of the campaign, with poll after poll showing the majority of Americans opposed to his hardline position, Trump routinely muddied the water and refused to let himself get pinned down on specifics. Then his surrogates started insisting that he had never said things which he had said (even though they were on video tape), a process known as gaslighting.

Trump finally acknowledged in October that his position has “morphed,” but he’s still never repudiated or recanted his call for a temporary ban on Muslims. Indeed, polls and interviews have shown, many of his core supporters continue to believe that is his position. As of this morning, the provocative proposal remains on  Trump’s web site.

On Dec. 7, 2015, Donald Trump speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. (Mic Smith/AP)

-- A look back through the clips shows just how all over the place Trump has been on this issue. Here’s a timeline of how his position evolved depending on the political moment and his audience during the past 365 days:

Dec. 8: Asked how his proposal would work, Trump tells NBC that customs agents or border guards would be charged with asking people: "Are you Muslim?" If the answer is yes, then that person would not be allowed into the country, Trump told Willie Geist.

The same day, Mike Pence joins a chorus of conservative leaders in condemning Trump’s proposal as “offensive and unconstitutional.”

Jan. 4: A Trump TV commercial that runs in the early states touts his support for a ban.

March 30: Trump tells Chris Matthews that there will be “exceptions” for “very rich Muslims.” “I have actually—believe it or not—I have a lot of friends that are Muslim and they call me," Trump said during an MSNBC town hall. "In most cases, they're very rich Muslims, okay? … They'll come in. You'll have exceptions."

He also argues that a Muslim ban might make Middle Eastern countries more disposed to help the U.S. defeat ISIS. “Maybe they'll be more disposed to fight ISIS,” Trump tells Matthews. “Maybe they'll say, 'We want to come back into America, we've got to solve this problem!’”

May 3: Trump becomes the presumptive GOP nominee by defeating Ted Cruz in the Indiana primary. He quickly begins to sandpaper his position as part of the effort to pivot toward the general election.

May 11: Greta Van Susteren says people worry his Muslim ban will go on forever. “Ideally you won’t have a ban very long,” Trump tells her on Fox News. “Sure I’d back off on it. I’d like to back off it as soon as possible. … Ultimately it’s my aim to have it lifted.”

May 12: Trump claims the ban was “just a suggestion.” “We have a serious problem, and it’s a temporary ban — it hasn’t been called for yet, nobody’s done it, this is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on,” he tells Fox Radio’s Brian Kilmeade.

Kellyanne Conway and Paul Manafort huddle at Trump Tower. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

May 25: “He’s already started moderating on that,” campaign chairman Paul Manafort tells the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, when asked about the ban. “He operates by starting the conversation at the outer edges and then brings it back towards the middle. Within his comfort zone, he’ll soften it some more. He’ll still end up outside of the norm, but in line with what the American people are thinking.”

May 26: Asked to respond to that quote from Manafort during a press conference, Trump replies: “Well, we’re going to look at a lot of different things. But we have a big problem. We have a radical Islamic terrorism problem. … We have to find a solution, and we have to be vigilant and tough and smart. We’ll see what happens.

June 13: In the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, Trump tacks to the right again and says he’d unilaterally act to restrict immigration, even if Congress won’t go along. “The immigration laws of the United States give the president powers to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons,” Trump says in New Hampshire. “I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats. … Many of the principles of radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions. We need to tell the truth also about how radical Islam is coming to our shores. And it's coming!”

He repeats his unsubstantiated claim that Muslims knew about the San Bernardino attack in advance but did not tip off authorities. “I want every American to succeed, including Muslims. But the Muslims have to work with us,” he says. “They know what’s going on. They know that (the Orlando shooter) was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in!”

June 19: Trump says profiling Muslims is "common sense." "Well, I think profiling is something that we're going to have to start thinking about as a country," he told John Dickerson on "Face the Nation.” "And other countries do it; you look at Israel and you look at others and they do it and they do it successfully. You know, I hate the concept of profiling. But we have to start using common sense, and we have to use, you know, we have to use our heads. We really have to look at profiling. We have to look at it seriously.”

A bagpipe player performs next to Trump as he arrives to his Trump Turnberry Resort in Ayr, Scotland, on June 24. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

June 25: Visiting Scotland, Trump tells the traveling press corps that he only wants to ban Muslims “from the terror states” and that “it wouldn’t bother me” if Muslims enter the U.S. from the U.K. During an interview with Bloomberg the same day, he declares that there will not be “mass deportations” if he’s elected and that his immigration policies will be more compassionate than Clinton’s. “I want terrorists out. I want people that have bad thoughts out. I would limit specific terrorist countries and we know who those terrorist countries are,” Trump tells Kevin Cirilli, declining to name them. “I think people are going to find that I have not only the best policies, but I will have the biggest heart of anybody.”

July 21: Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention is covered by the mainstream press as a softening in his position. “We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place,” he declares, reading carefully from a teleprompter.

July 24: Chuck Todd asks Trump if the RNC speech means he’s rolled back his original proposal. “I don’t think so,” he replies. “I actually don’t think it’s a rollback. In fact, you could say it’s an expansion. I’m looking now at territory. People were so upset when I used the word Muslim, ‘Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim.’ … And I’m okay with that, because I’m talking territory instead of Muslim.”

Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity spent a lot of time on the trail with Trump. (Rick Scuteri/AP)

July 25: Sean Hannity follows up on what Trump told Chuck Todd. “I think my position has gotten bigger now,” Trump clarifies, playing to the Fox audience. “I’m talking about territories now. People don’t want me to say Muslim. I guess I prefer not saying it, frankly, myself. So we’re talking about territories.”

Aug. 15: Trump calls for "extreme vetting" of people looking to immigrate to or visit the United States, including an ideological screening test to weed out those who don't "share our values and respect our people." Delivering what the campaign billed as a major speech on terrorism in Youngstown, Ohio, he says immigration from "some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism” needs to stop. He does not specify but says, should he be elected, he would order the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to identify those places and stop processing visas for anyone looking to come to the United States from there. "Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country," Trump explains.

Sept. 14: Trump acknowledges that his proposed ideological screening test is infeasible. “We don't know where these people come from,” he says while discussing Syrian refugees at a rally in Canton. "We don't know if they have love or hate in their heart, and there's no way to tell.” He says Syrian refugees represent "the great Trojan horse” of our time: "I don't want to be known in 200 years for having created the Trojan horse with a different name.”

Mike Pence speaks at Liberty University in early October. (Steve Helber/AP)

Oct. 6: Pence insists during two morning show appearances that Trump does not support a Muslim ban. “Well, because it’s not Donald Trump’s position now,” the vice presidential nominee tells Chris Cuomo on CNN, adding that he is “proud to stand with him when he says that we need to suspend immigration from countries and territories that have been compromised by terrorism.” Pence says the media is focusing on “the oldies” and “taking these little lines out of context.”

Joe Scarborough asks the Indiana governor on “Morning Joe” if Trump still wants to ban Muslims. “Of course not,” he replies. “We’re talking about areas of the world, territories and specifically countries that have been so compromised by terrorism that we can’t know for certain who those people are.”

Oct. 9: Moderator Martha Raddatz follows up during the second presidential debate by asking Trump if Pence was right. “The Muslim ban is something that in some form has morphed into an extreme vetting from certain areas of the world,” Trump answers. He ducks multiple follow-ups on whether he still supports a ban. “It’s called extreme vetting,” he says.

Nov. 10: The Muslim ban proposal is briefly removed from Trump’s web site after the election but quickly restored when reporters call attention to it. “The website was temporarily redirecting all specific press release pages to the homepage,” a spokesman says.

Reince Priebus arrives at Trump Tower on Monday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Nov. 20: Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus says Trump's team only plans to restrict “some people” from entering the country: "Look I'm not going to rule out anything," Priebus said on “Meet the Press.” "We're not going to have a registry based on a religion. But what I think what we're trying to do is say that there are some people, certainly not all people... there are some people that are radicalized. And there are some people that have to be prevented from coming into this country."

Dec. 1: A Muslim stand-up comedian named Mo Omer sits next to Eric Trump in business class on a flight to Scotland. In his retelling, he explained to the president-elect’s son that a registry of Muslim immigrants is a terrible idea. Amer told BuzzFeed that Trump replied: “Ah, come on, man. You can’t believe everything you read. Do you really think we’re gonna do that? … He basically acknowledged the fact that his father played this thing like a mad genius and that’s how he got elected and he admitted it.”

Dec. 1: At the first stop on his “thank you” tour, that same night, Donald blames a lax immigration system for the attack that injured 13 students at The Ohio State University. The president-elect says that Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, a Somali living legally in the U.S., should not have been in the country and promises a better screening system to keep out dangerous people. “We will do everything in our power to keep the scourge of terrorism out of our country. People are pouring in from regions of the Middle East. We have no idea who they are, where they are, what they’re thinking. And we’re going to stop that dead cold flat. You just take a good look at what just happened in your state,” Trump says in Cincinnati.

TomorrowTrump will travel to Columbus to meet privately with some victims of the attack, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Angela Merkel attends the Christian Democratic Union of Germany party conference in Essen yesterday. (Michael Kappeler/EPA)

-- The global conversation has changed quite a lot in the past year. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, considered by some to be the last remaining defender of the liberal order among the leaders of the great powers, yesterday called for a nationwide ban on “full veil” religious coverings. She staked out this hardline stance on Islam to improve her reelection hopes next year. “The full veil is not appropriate here,” Merkel told cheering lawmakers in her center-right CDU party. “It should be banned wherever it’s legally possible.” (Anthony Faiola has more.)

President Obama fist-bumps service members after speaking at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

-- Speaking at a military base in Tampa yesterday, President Obama made a spirited case that “dropping more bombs, deploying more troops” and placing restrictions on Muslim immigrants will not make America safer. Greg Jaffe and David Nakamura report that the lame duck never mentioned his successor by name, but his speech served as a stark rebuttal to the counterterrorism approach that Trump laid out during the campaign. He closed by insisting that the United States can protect itself from terrorists without betraying core American values. “The United States is not a country that imposes religious tests as a price for freedom,” Obama said. “The United States is not a place where citizens have to carry an ID card.”

-- Many congressional Republicans, who spoke out against Trump’s proposal last year, now dismiss it as one of those things that was not intended to be taken “literally.” They’re eager to move on and definitely don’t want to stop to talk about it in the Speaker’s lobby or the Senate cloak room.

-- But Muslim leaders remain scared, and their fears have been heightened by some of Trump’s staff selections. Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, said not long ago that fear of Muslims is “rational.” Stephen Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo have also publicly criticized Islam or supported policy ideas like the ban on Muslim immigrants. That’s prompted more than 300 prominent American Muslim leaders – from imams and university chaplains to the presidents of Islamic charities and advocacy groups – to sign an open letter this week calling on Trump to “reconsider and reject” some of his appointees who have “a well-documented history of outright bigotry directed at Muslims or advocating that Muslims should not have the same rights as their fellow Americans.” (Abigail Hauslohner has the letter here.)

-- A final word: Muslims make up a quarter of the world’s population. Demographers expect that there will be more Muslims than Christians on the planet sometime around 2050.

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck).

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Flames rise from the wreckage of a Pakistan International Airlines crash near Abbottabad, Pakistan. (EPA/Stringer)

-- A Pakistan International Airlines passenger plane with more than 40 people aboard crashed into a mountainside Wednesday shortly after taking off in northern Pakistan, authorities said. The PIA plane had departed from Chitral, a city famous for tourist resorts and rugged mountain peaks near the Afghan border, when it lost contact with ground controllers. Aerial images of the crash site showed smoke and flames covering a steep slope.

-- A 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia’s Aceh province just before dawn, killing almost 100 and causing dozens of buildings near the district’s epicenter to collapse. (CBS News)

The cover of Time (Handout)

-- Time Magazine named Trump as its 2016 “Person of the Year.” From the cover story by Michael Scherer: “Even for Donald Trump, the distance is still fun to think about, up here in his penthouse 600 ft. in the sky, where it’s hard to make out the regular people below. This is, in short, not a natural place to refine the common touch. And yet here Trump resides, under dripping crystal, with diamond cuff links, as the President-elect of the United States of America. It’s a topic Trump wants to discuss as he settles down in his dining room … what he calls that ‘interesting thing,’ the contradiction at the core of his appeal. ‘What amazes a lot of people is that I’m sitting in an apartment the likes of which nobody’s ever seen,’ the next President says, smiling. ‘And yet I represent the workers of the world.’”

“The late Fidel Castro would probably spit out his cigar if he heard that one—a billionaire who branded excess claiming the slogans of the proletariat. But Trump doesn’t care. ‘I’m representing them, and they love me and I love them,’ he continues, talking about the people of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the struggling Rust Belt necklace around the Great Lakes that delivered his victory. ‘And here we sit, in very different circumstances.’”

Terry Branstad arrives at Trump Tower yesterday. (Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)

-- Trump has picked Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be U.S. ambassador to China, per Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs. “Branstad and (Xi Jinping) met when China’s leader made his first trip to Iowa in 1985 during a sister-state exchange. At the time Xi was a young agricultural official from Hebei province ... The two men have reconnected several times since then. Despite their cultural differences, the pair forged strong bonds and have used their mutual love of agriculture to bridge the gap between their respective countries on human rights, economic issues and other tensions."

-- China is reacting very warmly, Simon Denyer reports from Beijing: “First of all, I would like to say that Mr. Branstad is an old friend of the Chinese people and we welcome him to play a greater role in promoting Sino-U. S. relations," spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news conference. “The U.S. ambassador to China is an important bridge between the U.S. government and the Chinese government. No matter who is in this position, we are willing to work with him to push forward the sound, steady and steady development of Sino-U. S. relations.”

United planes sit on the tarmac at Newark. (Julio Cortez/AP)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. United Airlines, already one of the worst, will begin charging passengers to store items in its overhead compartments. United will become the first major U.S. airline to impose such horrible, restrictive baggage pricing. But the company is laughing its way to the bank. Executives know we don't really have a choice but to fly with them, even if the passenger experience is terrible, and the initiative will add $1 billion to its annual operating income by 2020. (Samantha Schmidt)
  2. House lawmakers overwhelmingly voted down the push to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, effectively snuffing an effort led by hardline conservatives. (Mike DeBonis)
  3. Federal prosecutors recommended a 17 to 20 year prison sentence for Chaka Fattah, the disgraced former Pennsylvania congressman convicted on corruption charges including racketeering and money laundering. In a court filing, the feds describe the Philadelphia Democrat as “self-serving” and “utterly unremorseful.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  4. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to reassure NATO allies about the incoming Trump administration, telling foreign ministers he is confident the president-elect “will remain committed to the fundamental components of the Atlantic alliance.” “I believe common sense will prevail” Kerry said, addressing unfilled national security slots under Trump, as well as a host of policy questions that remain unanswered. (Karen DeYoung)
  5. Syrian rebels are in talks with the U.S. about their surrender and evacuation from Aleppo, seeking a departure plan as the Russians warn of the imminent “elimination” of anyone who refuses to leave the city. The threat comes as Assad’s troops continue to close in on eastern portions of the city, pushing forward with a brutal offensive that officials say could topple opposition forces within days. (Karen DeYoung)
  6. Libyan militias backed by U.S. air support say they have ousted Islamic State militants from their stronghold in that country, erupting in celebration after a seven-month struggle against the group. Still, analysts caution that the country remains “VERY UNSTABLE,” warning of threats from clandestine terror cells. (Sudarsan Raghavan)
  7. North Dakota pipeline protesters were forced from their camps after a blizzard moved in, blanketing the area in thick snowfall and plunging temperatures below zero. Camp organizers and medics urged activists to temporarily relocate to a casino, saying their lives could be in danger if they stayed. (Derek Hawkins)
  8. The Supreme Court sided with prosecutors in an insider trading case, upholding the conviction of an investment banker who passed along (“gifted”) insider information to his brother. (Robert Barnes)
  9. SCOTUS also unanimously sided with Samsung in a patent fight against Apple, reversing a lower court decision that ordered the company to dole out nearly $400 million in damages for copying portions of the iPhone design. (USA Today)
  10. The number of Americans working part time has risen more than nine percent since 2002, suggesting many adults are still juggling several jobs to make a living, even as national unemployment rates continue to fall. (Ana Swanson)
  11. American adults tend to get happier as they age – thriving compared to their younger counterparts on measures such as financial well-being, community, and purpose, according to a new Gallup poll. But another big factor is geography – and a ranking of the 50 states found that older adults are happiest in Hawaii and least happy in West Virginia. (Tara Bahrampour)
  12. Thousands of migrating snow geese searching for a pond to touch down on were killed after swooping instead onto the waters of a toxic mine pit in Montana. Officials estimate some 10,000 birds were killed in the acidic pond, turning the water “white with birds.” (Ben Guarino)
  13. Google announced it will power all of its global data centers with renewable energy sources by the end of next year – a massive undertaking for the tech giant, which in 2015 consumed as much energy as the entire city of San Francisco. (New York Times)
  14. Beyoncé received more Grammy nominations than any other artist, racking up nine nominations for the release of her "Lemonade” album. She’ll face off with Adele in the show’s top three categories, including record and song of the year. (Emily Yahr)
  15. Ohio police arrested a man accused of several brazen abduction attempts of young girls in the area – including a February incident in which he attempted to yank a 10-year-old though her bedroom window by her legs in the dead of the night. (Sarah Larimer)
  16. Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was detained for 18 months in an Iranian prison before his release earlier this year, is writing a book about his ordeal. Tentatively titled “Hostage: 544 Days, 400 Million Dollars, the Nuclear Deal & Me,” the memoir is slated for publication in 2018. (Karen Heller)
Trump welcomes Mad Dog Mattis on stage in Fayetteville. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

ON THE ROAD:

-- Trump formally announced Gen. James Mattis as his pick for defense secretary, praising him at a victory tour rally in North Carolina (right outside Fort Bragg) as one of the "most effective generals" in decades. Even before Mattis was introduced, some in the crowd at the began chanting his nickname, “Mad Dog,” Abby Phillip reports. "Trump basked in the approval: 'Boy, was he a popular choice,' he remarked." Both Trump and Mattis expressed hope that Congress would give Mattis a waiver allowing him to serve in the top position despite his recent military service. 'I look forward to being the civilian leader so long as the Congress give me the waiver and the Senate votes to consent,' Mattis said before handing the microphone back to Trump. 'You’ll get that waiver,' Trump remarked. 'If you didn’t get that waiver, there’ll be a lot of angry people.'"

"Trump, usually known for veering off script, largely remained true to his prepared remarks … [He] also refrained from repeatedly attacking the media, which he usually does numerous times each rally. When the crowd started to boo reporters at one point, Trump told them: ‘No, no.’ He then said: ‘Hopefully they will write the truth.’”

Supporters cheer as Trump at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville last night. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- Meanwhile, Mike Pence delivered remarks at an event for Heritage Foundation donors in Washington, saying the president-elect has a “mandate” to lead the country as he ticked through a list of conservative priorities for the new administration. Sean Sullivan reports: In a speech inside a hotel ballroom at the new Trump International Hotel … Pence vowed that the new team will quickly embark on a to-do list that includes repealing and replacing the federal health-care law, beefing up national defense and nominating a staunchly conservative Supreme Court justice. In delivering his remarks, [Pence] seemed to be seeking to reassure his audience that Trump would consistently govern with their policy interests in mind. 'We truly believe that our president-elect has secured a mandate for leadership,' said Pence."

Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn talks to media as he arrives at Trump Tower in New York.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

-- Trump fired the son of incoming national security adviser Michael T. Flynn from his transition team after he backed bogus “pizzagate” conspiracy theories online, renewing his support for the false story even after a gunman appeared at the Washington restaurant this weekend. “The tweet was the latest instance in which Michael G. Flynn, 33, who has served as his father’s chief of staff and scheduler, has propagated phony news stories and incendiary views,” Greg Miller reports. “His dismissal appeared to mark the first time that the Trump transition team had held one of its insiders to account for such activity. The younger Flynn had a transition team email address but is believed to have had a limited role, serving mainly as an aide to his father. The son appeared to have shut down his Facebook, where he had also posted incendiary images and material.”

-- The transition team had requested a security clearance for the younger Flynn, an issue that Jake Tapper asked Pence about eight times during an interview on CNN last night. (Watch here.)

-- Flynn Sr. will meet with current national security adviser Susan E. Rice for the first time today at the White House. “The Flynn-Rice meeting could be an awkward one, considering that Flynn has repeatedly trashed President Obama’s foreign policy — as implemented by officials including Rice.” Josh Rogin reports.

-- Tim Kaine said he is particularly troubled by the elder Flynn’s own record of trafficking in conspiracy theories: “I wish this were a Senate-confirmable position because we want to explore this further,” he said. “We may have an opportunity on that, by the way." As he made the comment, 53 mostly left-leaning nonprofit organizations penned an open letter to Trump asking him to dump Flynn for a range of comments he has made about Islam, including tweeting that fear of Muslims is "rational."

The front door of Comet Ping Pong pizza shop in Washington. (AP/Jose Luis Magana)

-- If you read one story on the fake news epidemic today --> "How Pizzagate went from rumor to hashtag, to gunfire," by Marc Fisher, John Woodrow Cox and Peter Hermann: “The story of Pizzagate is about what is fake and what is real. It’s a tale of a scandal that never was, and of a fear that has spread through channels that did not even exist until recently. Pizzagate — the belief that code words and satanic symbols point to a sordid underground along an ordinary retail strip in the nation’s capital — is possible only because science has produced the most powerful tools ever invented to find and disseminate information. What brought Welch to the District on a crisp Sunday afternoon in early December was a choking mix of rumor, political nastiness, technological change and the intoxicating thrill that can come from running down a mystery …” “There is a camaraderie to it,” said online blogger Stefanie MacWilliams. “It is like sitting around with your friends saying, ‘What really happened to JFK?’ It is like a giant game … like a real-life Kennedy assassination where all the stuff is at your fingertips, and it’s happening today.”

-- Comet Pizza has reopened for business: Owner James Alefantis, looking both “exhausted and buoyant,” welcomed his patrons, shook their hands, and escorted them to tables, John Woodrow Cox reports. “Who could blame any customer reluctant to return? But dozens of them did, and as the night continued, the mood seemed to shift. The sound of the Beatles — ‘Something,’ ‘And I Love Her,’ ‘Imagine’ — played as the smell of fresh pizza dough in the wood-burning oven wafted. And in the dining room, where every table had filled by 6:30, people complained about the weather, debated [Trump’s] cabinet appointments and checked their phones, both to post #StandWithComet photos to Facebook and, like they would anywhere else in Washington, to read their emails. It was a Tuesday night at the neighborhood pizzeria.”

-- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she raised the fake news problem during her sit-down with Trump in New York yesterday. Via Aaron C. Davis reports: “I absolutely expressed the kind of fear and anxiety that people have around the rhetoric that was in the campaign and somewhat after the campaign,” Bowser said when she emerged. She added that she and Trump talked about how they might work together. “Especially,” she said, “the opportunity we have in our city to heal around the divisive talk.” Asked whether she thinks Trump will be a friend to the city, she replied: “The one thing I know emphatically that he said is that he is a supporter of the District of Columbia, he’s familiar with the District of Columbia and he wants to be supportive." 

-- Most Americans who see fake news believe it: 75 percent of U.S. adults were fooled by false headlines in Buzzfeed/Ipsos Public Affairs survey found that The survey also found that people who cite Facebook as a major source of news are more likely to view fake news headlines as accurate than those who rely less on the platform.

Trump disembarks from his plane. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

TRUMP VS. CORPORATE AMERICA:

-- Trump sold all his shares of stock in June, likely to free up cash for his campaign, his spokesman said yesterday. Drew Harwell and Rosalind S. Helderman report: “The sell-off could help address conflict-of-interest worries about his stock portfolio, a sizable part of Trump’s financial life that was worth roughly as much as $40 million as of December 2015, a May disclosure filing shows. Those stock holdings, ethics advisers said, offered a potentially troublesome facet of Trump’s private finances that could entangle his public decision-making. Trump spokesman Jason Miller did not immediately answer why Trump had sold the shares, how much he sold them for, or whether he has bought anything since."

-- A Bloomberg national poll found that 69 percent of voters believe Trump should NOT be forced to sell off his businesses to avoid conflict of interest entanglements in the White House, while a similar 67 percent agreed with the statement that “he needs to choose between being president or a businessman.” The president-elect also continues to enjoy a post-victory popularity bump, rising to a 50 percent approval rate from just 33 percent in August. And voters appear to be giving him flexibility on policy initiatives, with a full 73 percent saying they accept him “re-calibrating” his campaign pledges.

-- For business leaders, Tuesday marked a day chock-full of big pronouncements and few details from the president-elect -- causing many to wonder whether this would be the unusual and unpredictable way Trump plans to govern. From Drew Harwell and Rosalind S. Helderman: “That style, including his opaque personal financial dealings and his sudden shots at certain companies, has helped unnerve a corporate America that traditionally craves stability. Some business leaders and economists worry whether executives can speak their minds about the president-elect or his policies without fear of facing Trump’s rage: “Twisting people’s arms is inherently problematic” for a president, said N. Gregory Mankiw, a Harvard professor and Bush-era economic adviser. “The president has so much power, you always wonder if there’s some implicit threat to individuals, and that goes beyond what I think a limited government should do,” Mankiw said.

President Obama boards Air Force One yesterday. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Bloomberg)

-- Trump took aim at Defense Department plans to build two new Air Force One jets, saying on Twitter that the amount is “far too much” and the contract with Boeing should be killed: Speaking to reporters in the Trump Tower lobby, he said efforts to build the plane are “totally out of control. It’s going to be over $4 billion for the Air Force One program, and I think that’s ridiculous. I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”

“The tweet and comments are further evidence that as president, Trump intends to use the power of the office to intervene in individual programs, policy decisions and the actions of companies,” Christian Davenport reports. “And it comes just a week after he pushed Carrier to give up plans to shift Indiana jobs to Mexico. Boeing, by contrast, would build Air Force One in the United States, and canceling the program could cost American jobs. (Note: the Air Force have not yet released a price tag for the aircraft, though they currently have $2.7 billion budgeted for the program.)

-- Timing: Trump’s Boeing tweet came 22 minutes after the Chicago Tribune posted an article quoting the company's CEO, Dennis Muilenberg, making pointed comments about Trump's position on trade. "Anyone who paid attention to the recent campaigns and the election results realizes that one of the overarching themes was apprehension about free and fair trade," Muilenberg said at the Illinois Manufacturing Association last week, as noted by Tribune columnist Robert Reed. Fair trade has helped Boeing, which prides itself on being America's largest manufacturing exporter. "Last year, we delivered 495 737s from our factory in Renton, Wash., to customers around the world," Muilenberg continued, noting that a third of the planes were sent to China. "This phenomenon would have been unimaginable when I started at the company in 1985." (Philip Bump)

-- Trump Force One is dwarfed by Air Force One, but it does boast an onboard movie theater. (Bump has a side-by-side comparison of the aircraft. And, for those who have not traveled with POTUS, CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Antoine Sanfuentes share what it’s like to fly on AF1.)

-- Presidential aircraft have been in the spotlight for high costs before, the Wall Street Journal’s Robert Wall reports. “Early in the Obama administration, the Pentagon’s effort to introduce a new fleet of presidential helicopters drew fire for its cost. President Obama, at the time, said the existing fleet seemed ‘perfectly adequate’ and not in need of replacing. An earlier effort to field new presidential helicopters failed. Lockheed Martin in 2005 won a contract to develop and build Marine One helicopters based on the AW101 made by Italy’s Leonardo-Finmeccanica SpA. The Pentagon in 2009 ordered the company to stop work on the project because of cost overruns and delays. Politically inspired program cancellations can be fraught. When then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1991 ordered cancellation of a Navy combat plane that had fallen behind schedule and run over cost, it triggered years of litigation all the way to the Supreme Court."

Trump tours the Carrier factory in Indianapolis last Thursday. (Evan Vucci/AP)

-- Carrier union leader Chuck Jones slammed Trump for lying about the number of jobs he had saved at the Indianapolis plant that were due to be shipped to Mexico. Danielle Paquette reports: Jones said he felt optimistic when Trump first announced the deal – until he heard from Carrier that only 730 production jobs would stay, and 550 of his members would lose their livelihoods, after all. At the Dec. 81 meeting, where Trump was supposed to lay out the details, Jones hoped he would explain himself. “But he got up there,” Jones said, “and, for whatever reason, lied his a-- off. ... Trump and Pence, they pulled a dog and pony show on the numbers. I almost threw up in my mouth.”

"Now they’re keeping — actually the number’s over 1,100 people,” Trump said at the meeting, “which is so great.” In fact: “Of the nearly 1,400 workers at the Indianapolis plant, however, 350 in research and development were never scheduled to leave, Jones said. Another 80 jobs, which Trump seemed to include in his figure, were non-union clerical and supervisory positions. And now the president-elect was applauding the company and giving it millions of dollars in tax breaks, even as hundreds of Indianapolis workers prepared to be laid off.” 

-- Trump said Japanese corporate giant SoftBank is investing $50 billion in the U.S., appearing alongside CEO Masayoshi Son to announce the news in the Trump Tower lobby -- a deal which he claimed would not be possible without his election win, Ana Swanson reports. But the money is not new: the funds will come from a $100 billion joint investment account that Son established in October using money from partners, including Saudi Arabia’s state-owned investment fund. “Softbank owns roughly 80 percent of telecom company Sprint. Following the announcement, shares of Sprint Corp surged nearly 4 percent as of mid-afternoon. The announcement also raised suppositions that Son might be seeking to curry favor for his U.S. business interests. Sprint and SoftBank abandoned an effort to purchase rival telecom carrier T-Mobile in 2014 after U.S. regulators signaled the deal might violate anti-trust laws. But in August, Bloomberg quoted people familiar with his thinking as saying that Son still held out hope for the merger."

-- Trump invited tech leaders to a roundtable discussion in New York next week, meeting with a host of Silicon Valley insiders who often clashed with the president-elect during his campaign. Attendees will include Oracle Corp. Co-CEO Safra Catz and Cisco Systems Inc. CEO Chuck Robbins, Bloomberg reports. Facebook, Apple and Alphabet declined to say whether company executives had been invited or would attend.

A "Jobs" banner hangs outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in 2014. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

THE U.S. CHAMBER CONTINUES TO ALIGN MORE CLOSELY WITH THE GOP:

-- Over the past two decades, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has changed from a bipartisan business advocacy organization with ties to both political parties to one that operates almost exclusively as an arm of the GOP. Some analysts compare the Chamber’s relationship to the Republican Party to the role organized labor has played for the Democrats. A new report from the Public Citizen organization, a longtime critic of the Chamber, suggests the business lobby has gone further than ever this cycle. Tom Hamburger got the first look for the 202: “In comparison to past election cycles when the Chamber spent a small amount of money to support Democratic candidates for Congress, the entirety of the Chamber’s general election spending in 2016 congressional races was to aid Republicans and/or hinder Democrats,” said the report, to be released later today. The seven-page Public Citizen report concludes with a question: “Why should companies continue to fund an organization that places partisan interests above business interests?”

The Public Citizen review said that the Chamber did not spend any money in support of a single Democratic congressional candidate in 2016. It spent a reported $13.1 million to support Republicans, and another $16.5 million against Democrats. Separately, the report dubs the Chamber the second largest overall non-disclosing (or “dark money”) outside spender in 2016 congressional races after the National Rifle Association. The Chamber involved itself most heavily in races for the U.S. Senate, spending a total of $25.8 million in 10 Senate races, the report said.

Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff Holmes responds: “This cycle the Chamber endorsed six House Democrats (five of the six won). Our spending was very targeted and focused on key Senate races where there was a stark contrast between the candidates. The Chamber supports pro-business candidates who have the courage to govern.”

John McCain and Marco Rubio decline to discuss Trump as they arrive for a meeting of Senate Republicans. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

HOW CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS WILL DEAL WITH TRUMP:

-- “For GOP lawmakers, an attempt at harmony — and a potential collision course with Trump,” by Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell: When Trump talks protectionist tariffs, Hill Republicans discuss ‘comprehensive tax reform.’ When Trump says he will build a border wall, GOP lawmakers refer to ‘securing the border,’ perhaps without a physical barrier. When Trump talks about getting tough with China, lawmakers play down any major policy shift. The awkward dance was on display on Capitol Hill this week after Trump’s tweet storm about imposing tariffs … ‘It’s not been something that in our office we’ve focused a great deal on,’ said Sen. Bob Corker, who in the past has warned that protectionist tariffs would ‘start a trade war.’ ‘I’m not going to comment on tweets,’ said [Marco Rubio] as he rushed to wave off a throng of reporters on his way to catch a train in the basement of the Capitol. ‘Let’s wait until the inauguration, and we’ll work through all of those issues.’ Among more than a dozen Republicans on Capitol Hill surveyed Monday, most dismissed Trump’s recent positions as temporary ideas that could change once he takes office.”

-- “Two closely-watched Republican lawmakers are calling on their colleagues to maintain aggressive congressional oversight of the Trump administration next year even though the new president hails from the same party controlling Capitol Hill,” Ed O’Keefe reports: “Sen. Tom Cotton, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, who have large national followings and grander political ambitions, agreed that House and Senate committees must keep close tabs on [Trump’s] new government starting next year — not because they want to stick it to a man that neither originally endorsed for president, but because doing so would help rebalance power between the three branches of government. ‘The legislative branch was designed to be and at one point was the most powerful of the three branches. It is without question the weakest of the three branches now,’ [Gowdy said]. ‘Part of that is because we’ve allowed that to happen.’ Cotton agreed with Gowdy that ‘This is a moment where we could claw back some of that constitutional authority for our legislature… [Trump] said that the supported restoring some of those constitutional principles, as well.’”

Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary nominee, sits with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office yesterday. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

REPEALING OBAMACARE:

-- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that an Obamacare repeal resolution will be the “first item” that the Senate votes on in the new session, underscoring GOP commitment to the repeal effort even as Republicans remain undecided on a potential replacement plan. In response, incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said simply, "Bring it on." (Politico)

-- The nation’s hospital industry warns Trump and congressional leaders that repealing the ACA could cost hospitals $165 billion by the middle of the next decade and trigger “an unprecedented public health crisis.” Amy Goldstein reports: “The two main trade groups for U.S. hospitals dispatched a letter to the incoming president and Capitol Hill’s top four leaders, saying that the government should help hospitals avoid massive financial losses if the law is rescinded in a way that causes a surge of uninsured patients.cThe letter, along with a consultant’s study estimating the financial impact of undoing the Affordable Care Act, makes hospitals the first sector of the health-care industry to speak out publicly to try to protect itself from a sharp reversal in health policy.”

-- “How repealing Obamacare would punish the working class,” by Max Ehrenfreund: “The number of people without health insurance could more than double under Republican plans to repeal President Obama's Affordable Care Act, reaching nearly 59 million — or more than one in four Americans, according to a new analysis … The figures illustrate the challenges for newly empowered Republicans who, having won the presidential election after pledging to ease the financial burdens on the American working class, must work out the details of how they will deliver on their promises. About four in five of those who would become uninsured following repeal do not have a college degree, the report from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center projects. Two-thirds live in a household with at least one person working full time.  Without the subsidies or the requirement that all Americans have coverage, experts say the healthiest customers would cease buying insurance if they do not have policies through their employers or through the government. As a result, insurers would be forced to increase premiums to cover the cost of treating those sicker patients who remain.”

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross visits the Capitol yesterday/ (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

WHO WILL RUN TRUMP'S WASHINGTON?

-- “In West Virginia coal country, voters are ‘thrilled’ about Trump,” by Marc Fisher: “Coal country offers a counterweight to the palpable anxiety about Trump in some parts of the country. Here, people said they are 'euphoric' and 'thrilled' about the incoming president … That optimism is pervasive even after Trump last week chose as his commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, the Manhattan billionaire who in 2006 owned the mine just down the hill, where an underground explosion killed 12 miners, the region’s worst coal disaster in decades. Trump’s appeal here is stylistic as well as policy-driven, said [Buckhannon Mayor] David McCauley … It’s about coal, but also about being ornery and oppositional. 'The whole history of West Virginia is exploitation by outside influences,' he said. 'Now the guy 80 percent of us voted for turns around and nominates one of the least favorite names in Upshur County. … But if the economy turns around, he’ll get the credit.’"

-- Bob Dole lobbied Trump’s team to make the Taiwan call for months -- briefing the campaign’s policy director, setting up meetings between campaign staff and Taiwanese emissaries, arranging for Taiwan’s delegation to attend the RNC, and helping tilt the GOP platform further in the island’s favor. Politico’s Isaac Arnsdorf: “Taiwan paid the 93-year-old Dole and his law firm, Alston & Bird, $140,000 between May and October. … The revelation of Dole’s extensive influence on Trump’s team follows reports that the president-elect has been declining the advice of State Department experts before talking with world leaders. It also contrasts with the transition’s ban on lobbyists and Trump’s campaign pledge to forbid his officials from lobbying for foreign governments and outlaw foreign lobbyists’ donating to American candidates.”

-- Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for education secretary, is an indirect investor in online-lending company Social Finance Inc., whose fortunes hinge on policies crafted by the department she would run. Anupreeta Das and Peter Rudegeair report in the Wall Street Journal: "Ms. DeVos and her husband Dick DeVos are investors in RPM Ventures, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based venture-capital firm that was one of SoFi’s earliest backers, according to the firms’ websites. Founded in 2011, SoFi is worth about $4 billion and in the midst of raising a new round of money. Much of SoFi’s business stems from refinancing student loans; the Department of Education is by far the country’s biggest student lender, with $1.3 trillion in outstanding loans. Ms. DeVos and her husband have a family investment office, Windquest Group, that is an investor in RPM Ventures. RPM has been in touch with Windquest to “determine if any conflicts exist, with a goal of resolving them,” said Marc Weiser, the venture firm’s managing director.”

-- Trump transition team members all had to sign a strict non-disclosure agreement. From Politico’s Nancy Cook: “The agreement legally bars transition staffers from disclosing info about major portions of the transition work, like policy briefings, personnel material, donor info, fundraising goals, budgets, contracts, or any draft research papers. It also demands that if anyone on the team suspects a colleague of leaking material, he or she must tell transition team leadership.”

-- The U.S. Secret Service is being advertised as a new amenity in Trump Tower as brokers desperately try to lure new buyers to the Fifth Avenue building. From Politico’s Tara Palmeri: “Less than a week after Trump was elected, prominent New York real estate agency Douglas Elliman blasted out an email with the subject: ‘Fifth Avenue Buyers Interested in Secret Service Protection?’ to advertise a $2.1 million, 1,052-square-foot condo in the tower on 721 Fifth Avenue.” “The New Aminity [sic] – The United States Secret Service,” screamed one flier. “The Best Value in the Most Secure Building in Manhattan,” it stated.

-- Could this Goldendoodle become Trump’s first pet? The president-elect and his family are slated to become the first non-pet-owning White House inhabitants in 150 years– unless they take Palm Beach philanthropist Lois Pope up on an offer for a certain 9-week-old golden retriever and poodle mix that she says would make the perfect First Pup. Karin Brulliard reports: “Pope said she notified Trump, whom she has known for more than two decades, about the Goldendoodle in writing and showed him a photo of the pooch at the Trumps’ recent Thanksgiving event at their Mar-a-Lago home. “He said, ‘Go over there and show it to Barron,' Pope said, referring to Trump’s 10-year-old son. ‘He said, ‘He’s going to fall in love with him.’ He said, ‘Barron will want him.’ When she showed the photo to Barron, Pope said, ‘this big smile came over his face, and it just brought tears to his eyes.’"

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE:

-- “Why efforts to convince the Electoral College to ditch Trump probably won’t work,” by Sean Sullivan and Ed O'Keefe: “When Joyce Haas noticed late last month that her mailbox was stuffed fuller than usual, she chalked it up to the arrival of the holiday season. ‘I thought okay, it’s Christmas card time!’ recalled Haas, 70, one of 538 electors from across the country … But this was no flood of season’s greetings. It was the start of what she said has been a steady stream of 150 to 200 letters … urging her to disregard [Trump’s] win in her home state of Pennsylvania and vote for someone else. Many other electors in states won by the president-elect have experienced similar pressure, with a constellation of anti-Trump activists, organized groups and rogue electors waging an urgent, long-shot attempt to prevent Trump from taking office.” “To me, it has been a form of harassment,” said Haas.

And Electoral College experts warned the likelihood of such a gambit succeeding on Dec. 19 is “improbable”: “One-eighth of Trump’s 306 electors, 38 of them, would need to desert him for another Republican, and then if the Democrats were to join those 38 – maybe vote for John Kasich, then Kasich could have 270 electoral votes,” said Mark Weston, who has written a book on the topic. “Unless the Democrats join in, no one is getting the majority in which case the election goes to the House of Representatives and it’s Republican.”

-- John Kasich asked presidential electors not to vote for him, seeking to thwart protesters that have urged Trump electors to write in his name as an alternative on Dec. 19. "I am not a candidate for president and ask that electors not vote for me when they gather later this month. Our country had an election and Donald Trump won,” the Ohio governor said in a statement posted on Twitter. "The country is divided and there are certainly raw emotions on both sides stemming from the election. But this approach, as well meaning as it is, will only serve to further divide our nation, when unity is what we need."

-- Meanwhile, a firm of high-powered lawyers said it is offering free legal assistance to Electoral College members who wish to oppose Trump. Officials from the project, led by Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig, said they will likely also represent the Texas elector who detailed his plans to oppose Trump in a New York Times op-ed earlier this week. (HuffPost)

-- Trump’s attorneys, for their part, said there is no evidence of voter fraud in the presidential race, breaking with the president-elect’s own tweets asserting that “millions” of voters had cast illegal ballots.” In court filings submitted in an effort to block recount efforts by Green Party candidate Jill Stein in Michigan and Pennsylvania, attorneys for the president-elect stated unequivocally that there was, in fact, no evidence that any voter fraud had occurred. ‘On what basis does Stein seek to disenfranchise Michigan citizens? None really, save for speculation,’ it reads. ‘All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.’ The filing notes that both Michigan's Republican governor and the White House articulated confidence in the results of the election.” (Philip Bump)

-- The Cleveland Cavaliers made alternative arrangements for a group of players, including LeBron James, who do not want to stay in Trump’s New York hotel ahead of their game against the Knicks. The move comes after James publicly endorsed and campaigned for Clinton earlier this year, the AP reports. Several of his teammates, including Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert and others have expressed their disappointment over Trump’s win.

Bana al-Abed uses a smart-phone to check her Twitter account. (Thaer Mohammed/Getty)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “Meet the 7-year-old Aleppo girl who became our era’s Anne Frank,” by Caitlin Gibson: “The harrowing farewell message came Sunday[:] ‘We are sure the army is capturing us now. We will see each other another day dear world. Bye.’ It was signed ‘Fatemah,’ the mother of Bana al-Abed, a 7-year-old Syrian girl who amassed more than 200,000 Twitter followers as she and her family have documented their struggle to survive in war-ravaged Aleppo.  Her mother started the Twitter account in late September, and Bana — a petite child with long dark hair, big brown eyes and a lilting voice — quickly became the newest symbol for the horrors unfolding in Syria. She shared her fear of the nightly bombings, tweeted photos of obliterated buildings and chronicled the quiet moments … More than seventy years after a Dutch teenager penned the diary chronicling her family’s life hiding from the Nazis, Bana has become the Anne Frank of the Syrian civil war — except this time, the world is watching the story unfold in the present, moment to moment, with no sense of how it will end.”

-- “As Dylann Roof’s trial begins, a genteel Southern city is forced to confront racial hatred,” by Kevin Sullivan and Matt Zapotosky in Charleston, S.C.: “The room where it happened looks like a million other church basements. Shiny linoleum floors. Folding chairs and tables. And, this week, workers hanging festive green and red Christmas decorations. [But inside], parishioners are struggling to recover from what prosecutors call the methodical bloodlust of a ninth-grade dropout radicalized to hate blacks in the septic swamp of the Internet’s white-supremacist fringes.” The brutal June night is about to come alive again for residents in this historic seaside city, with Wednesday’s scheduled opening arguments in the federal hate crimes trial of Dylann Roof. “Charleston, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, has a long and difficult history with race relations. But the Roof [case] has …forced this genteel Southern city that prides itself on politeness and civility to discuss issues of race more openly.” “This has caused an awakening,” said former mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. “We thought we were living in a post-racial society, and this was a hurtful and heartbreaking wake-up. We’re all more aware now.”

-- “In Louisiana Senate election, one final defeat awaits Democrats,” by Tyler Bridges: “Foster Campbell evokes the era of Louisiana’s Democratic populists when he describes John N. Kennedy, his Republican opponent in the state’s Senate election on Saturday. ‘If people want somebody who is phony, a flip-flopper and has been on every side and has been everything but a Baptist preacher, they need to vote for John Kennedy,’ Campbell, a 69-year-old elected utility regulator, drawls in one throwback line. But Louisiana’s Democratic populist period has long passed, and that helps explain why Kennedy, the state treasurer, is the heavy favorite to win the Dec. 10 election for the U.S. Senate — the last in the country thanks to the state’s unique election laws. [Now, with Trump’s] upset victory over Clinton, and with Congress remaining in GOP hands, it is shaping up as one final humiliation for Democrats.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

It was a rainy night for the Capitol Christmas tree lighting:

Dole and George H.W. Bush were in College Station, Texas, last night to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day:

Meanwhile, in Fayetteville:

Republican lawmakers are not eager to discuss Trump:

The Weather Channel picked a fight online with Breitbart:

Headlines you might have missed:

Clinton's popular-vote margin continues to rise:

Claire McCaskill slammed GOP leaders for rushing through government funding legislation:

It was a big day for Harry Reid:

Chris Van Hollen is preparing to take over Barbara Mikulski's seat:

Kevin Brady's staff held a Christmas party:

John Kerry huddled with one of the biggest boosters of Brexit:

Check out the most re-tweeted political tweets of the year, including Obama's famous "four more years" message, which is still being retweeted:

From election night:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- GQ, “The Libertarian Utopia That’s Just a Bunch of White Guys on a Tiny Island,” by Morgan Childs: “The people of Liberland love Bitcoin and hate political correctness. There will be no taxes and very few women or people of color. But with some luck, the unrecognized three-square-mile territory on the Western bank of the Danube might one day become the Libertarian utopia for disaffected white men.”

-- Click--worthy: New York Times photojournalist Daniel Berehulak documented 57 homicide victims killed in a 35-day period in the Philippines, as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal antidrug campaign: “You hear a murder scene before you see it: The desperate cries of a new widow. The piercing sirens of approaching police cars. The thud, thud, thud of the rain drumming on the pavement of a Manila alleyway ... ‘They are slaughtering us like animals,’ said a bystander who was afraid to give his name. I have worked in 60 countries, covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and spent much of 2014 living inside West Africa’s Ebola zone, a place gripped by fear and death. What I experienced in the Philippines felt like a new level of ruthlessness: police officers’ summarily shooting anyone suspected of dealing or even using drugs, vigilantes’ taking seriously Mr. Duterte’s call to ‘slaughter them all.’ He said in October, ‘You can expect 20,000 or 30,000 more.’”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“You’re Out! Phillies’ Ballpark Nuts Vendor Fired For White Nationalist Views,” from HuffPost: “A popular vendor at the Philadelphia Phillies ballpark has been fired for supporting white nationalism. Emily Youcis, known as the ‘Pistachio Girl’ who sings while hawking nuts and beer to fans at Citizen Bank Park, was axed because her ‘values’ clashed with those of food concessionaire Aramark, according to a company statement released Monday. Youcis confirmed in a tweet that she was fired a week ago, then followed up on Twitter asking: ‘What’s more important ... selling nuts for a couple more years or saving the White Race from extinction?’ Youcis insisted her firing would hurt the Phillies more than it would hurt her because the fans and baseball players treated her ‘like a god.’ ‘I owned that stadium,’ she boasted.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Alabama man loses job for calling Gatlinburg fire victims 'toothless, pond scum' Trump supporters,” from Alabama.com: “An Alabama man who referred to residents of Gatlinburg as ‘mouth-breathing, toothless, Trump-suckin' pond scum’ in the wake of last week's deadly wildfires has lost his job and been targeted by social media users as a possible suspect in the blaze. On Nov. 29, Coleman Bonner of Wessington in Chilton County posted a message to his personal Facebook page in regards to the wildfires … ‘I felt the place was a cesspool of consumerism and a bastion of the worst aspect of southern culture,’ [he wrote]. ‘Turns out a wildfire just burned most of the town to the ground. Good riddance, Gatlinburg. And good luck you mouth-breathing, toothless, diabetic … mountain-dew chugging, moon-pie-munchin,' pall-mall smoking,', Trump-suckin' pond scum. (Chuckles and smiles like the smarmy liberal elitist I am,’ Bonner wrote.” The post came days after as many as 14,000 people were evacuated from Gatlinburg after the wildfire, which has killed at least 14.

 

DAYBOOK:

In Trump's world: Trump holds a transition fundraising breakfast, then meets with North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

At the White House: Obama has no public events scheduled. Biden speaks at the inauguration ceremony for Dr. Dennis Assanis at the University of Delaware Roselle Center for the Arts. In the afternoon, Biden presides over the Senate floor during a tribute in his honor.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. to resume consideration of the House message to accompany the 21st Century Cures Act. Later, the Senate votes on the motion to invoke cloture on the Conference Report to accompany the NDAA. At 3 p.m., the Senate offers a tribute to Biden.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Deputy CIA director David Cohen explained his leadership philosophy in an interview with The Post: “I also try to model the behavior that I expect from others. That means working hard, taking the job seriously and employing a little bit of a Tim Geithner-ism. Geithner, the former Treasury secretary, gave out little rubber bracelets that said, ‘No jerks, no whiners, no peacocks.’ It is a pretty clear guidepost on how you expect everybody to behave.” (Q&A with Tom Fox)

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- Today’s weather takes a turn for the warmer and sunnier – but it’ll be one of the last such days before temps take a nosedive. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After any early-morning fog or mist, mostly cloudy morning skies turn partly sunny this afternoon. Morning temperatures that start out near 40 should reach afternoon highs near 50 to the low 50s.”

-- D.C. Council members voted to move forward with one of the nation’s most generous paid family leave policies, advancing a policy that would create roughly $250 million a year in new taxes on local businesses to fund two months of paid time off for workers to care for newborn or adopted children. It could make the District even less friendly to business. (Peter Jamison and Michael Alison Chandler)

-- Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said his office is notifying more than 5,000 former college students of their eligibility for loan forgiveness, reaching out to students who attended now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, a chain of for-profit schools that were felled by fraud and predatory lending charges. (Danielle Douglas-Gabriel)

-- A female high school student in Gaithersburg said she was targeted in a kidnapping attempt while walking to her bus stop on Monday morning, telling police a man told her to “shut up” and attempted to place a black bag on her head. The student, from Watkins Mill High School, said the man fled after she began screaming. (Justin Wm. Moyer)

-- The Wizards lost to the Orlando Magic 124 to 116.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Our video team synthesized Trump's speech in North Carolina last night into three minutes:

Now with more than 3,000 likes, here's Arnold Schwarzenegger's video of him sharing a crust of bread with a bird (click to watch):

The Roots, Busta Rhymes and Joell Ortiz performed "My Shot" from Hamilton on the Tonight Show:

Stephen Colbert talked about the Kennedy Center Honors and Trump's Taiwan call:

He also interviewed Joe Biden, who said when asked about running for president in 2020: "Donald Trump will be 74, I'll be 77 and in better shape."

Here's a look at why the Pentagon study revealing $125 billion in wastes is so important:

Twitter released a video with some of the most shared 2016 moments:

This man said the viral video of his drug overdose helped him turn his life around: