With Breanne Deppisch
THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump is eager to score some early wins, so that he can look like an effective leader, and congressional Republicans are fixing to give him bills he can sign immediately upon taking office. But, for the new president, some might bring unintended consequences.
The Congressional Review Act is such an incredibly powerful tool that it has only been used once in the two decades it has been on the books. In the next couple months, it will probably be used about half a dozen times.
Somewhere around 150 rules finalized by the Obama administration – going as far back as last June – could be overturned under the CRA, if Congress passes a “joint resolution of disapproval” and the new president signs off.
High on the chopping block: Regulations which would curb methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, prohibit coal-mining companies from engaging in activities that permanently pollute streams used for drinking water and increasing the salary threshold below which employees are entitled to overtime pay. Industry lobbyists are also pushing GOP lawmakers to get of nondiscrimination and fair pay rules for federal contractors. And a bunch of companies are trying to drum up AstroTurf support for rescinding Energy Department efficiency standards for dehumidifiers, battery chargers and air conditioners.
But here’s the rub: the executive branch may never again be allowed to regulate on these subjects if the Congressional Review Act is employed. It is hard to overstate what a big deal that is and how much it raises the stakes. If the overtime rule gets rescinded, for example, any new overtime requirements would need to pass Congress. If you know anything about the Hill, you know that will happen – when pigs fly…
Every modern president, no matter his party, has not been able to resist expanding the regulatory state and trying to usurp Congress’s power, at least to some degree. The power that comes with controlling the executive branch has tended to seduce even the most conscientiously conservative appointees once they get their security details.
-- Many movement conservatives – who still fear that Trump is a wolf in sheep’s clothing (he was, after all, a registered Democrat until Sept. 2009) – are privately ecstatic about the possibilities of tying his hands before he even realizes it. Certain Republicans in Congress also care sincerely about the emergence of “The Imperial Presidency” and want to reassert more authority under Article I. Not to mention, many Republican lawmakers would be totally fine if there were never again any new environmental regulations.
-- There is palpable fear among the smartest people on the right that Trump, after he faces his big setbacks in the Oval Office, will follow the playbook that led Arnold Schwarzenegger astray in California. “The Terminator” governed initially as a conservative after winning in the 2003 recall, but then he shifted leftward and jumped the shark after voters rejected a referendum to curb union power – hiring an outspoken liberal to be his chief of staff. Jared Kushner, arguably Trump’s most influential adviser, has given more than $100,000 in contributions to Democrats. There is nothing in his background to suggest that the new president’s son-in-law will advise him to follow the more conservative course when it is politically treacherous.
-- This is why many Hill Republicans see the CRA as an insurance policy against future Trump overreach.
-- There were several regulations that got pushed through in the waning months of George W. Bush’s administration, which Barack Obama’s team did not like and mulled using the CRA to get rid of. Remember that Democrats had big majorities in both chambers. But the president’s lawyers were so concerned that this would undercut their ability to regulate on the same subjects in the future that they never pursued the possibility. POTUS played the long game.
-- One problem is that the 1996 law has never been tested in the courts. The legislation says that any rule which is rescinded under the CRA “may not be reissued in substantially the same form, and a new rule that is substantially the same as such a rule may not be issued, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the joint resolution disapproving the original rule.”
The statute includes no definition for what “substantially the same” means. Lawyers on the left and the right tell me that the lack of clarity would give enough leeway for a conservative judge to strike down pretty much any new regulation on the same general topic as something the CRA was used to eliminate.
-- The only time the law has been used successfully was in 2001. Right after George W. Bush took office, he signed off on a joint resolution of disapproval to get rid of the ergonomics rule that had been enacted in the waning months of the Clinton administration to improve worker safety. As a result, there was never any meaningful push to again regulate ergonomics during the Obama years because Labor Department officials feared that a new rule would get struck down by the courts. That could theoretically be cited as a precedent of sorts in court.
-- Every committee chairman was asked immediately after the election to identify some rules under their jurisdiction that could be reversed. A big frustration for GOP leadership is that the CRA requires each rule to be overturned individually, and the rules of the Senate mean that there could be 10 hours of floor time devoted to debating each one. Since that could suck up days that are needed to advance other priorities, the conventional wisdom is that about half a dozen rules will ultimately hit the chopping block. But Republicans plan to make a show of proposing resolutions to get rid of far more than that in the coming days.
-- Hill Republicans are also very seriously exploring other ways to curtail executive power. There are a few different measures being considered that would require Congress to affirmatively assent to any major new regulation in the future. The REINS Act, which passed the House last week, could meaningfully shift the balance of power in domestic policymaking away from the White House and toward the Congress. Sources say that another version, the Regulatory Accountability Act, is most likely to make it through the Senate.
THE NEW NIXON:
-- “Watch what we do, not what we say,” John Mitchell told reporters at the start of Richard Nixon’s administration. The incoming attorney general was trying to reassure African Americans who were alarmed about the incoming president’s shameful embrace of the Southern Strategy to win in 1968, but the words eerily foreshadowed the relentless assault on the rule of law that would end only with a constitutional crisis six years later.
-- Trump is not just the most emotionally fragile president since Nixon: He’s literally planning to hang a framed letter from R.N. in the Oval Office. He modeled his RNC speech last summer off Nixon’s from 48 years earlier. Repudiating Reaganism, which won the Cold War, he’s embracing Nixon’s “madman theory” of foreign policy. He’s consulting with the disgraced former president’s advisers. He’s stocking his West Wing with his protégés – including one whom he has decided to stand by despite egregious plagiarism that no other White House would tolerate.
-- Expect to hear a lot of words this week that sound reassuring. As Trump holds his first press conference in months, the transition team is looking to project an image of sober-minded sanity and a seriousness of purpose. This weekend, all the important cabinet nominees participated in dress rehearsals – or “murder boards,” in D.C. parlance. They practiced saying all the right things – with an emphasis on giving short answers, non-answers (when pressed about differences with Trump) and keeping their cool in the face of pointed questions from Democrats looking to score points.
-- But far more important than someone’s words are their deeds – and their record. When Trump talks about how he’s dealing with his conflicts of interest, what matters are the specifics. When a nominee for the cabinet dodges and is non-committal about something (e.g. opposing the use of torture), that deserves extra scrutiny.
-- Don’t let yourself get distracted by the many shiny objects coming your way in the next 96 hours. As FedEx founder Fred Smith likes to say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Watch what they do, not what they say…
Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- "La La Land" cleaned up at the Golden Globes. Post TV critic Hank Stuever breaks down what you might have missed: “The Golden Globes — that marvelously meaningless mash-up of film and TV awards bestowed by a small club of foreign journalists working in Hollywood — got off to an energetic start Sunday night with a clever la-dee-da-dee song-and-dance ode to the film ‘La La Land,’ which later took home just about all of the big movie awards, including best comedy film and actor (Ryan Gosling) and actress (Emma Stone) and prizes for best director, score, song and screenplay. Other big awards of the night: In the drama categories, ‘Moonlight’ took home the other best movie award; Casey Affleck won best actor for ‘Manchester by the Sea’; and Isabelle Huppert won best actress for the French film ‘Elle’ (which also won best foreign film).” (See the complete list of winners here.)
“The hands-down highlight of the show came from a hoarse-voiced Meryl Streep, who accepted the association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement award with sharp criticism of Trump and the cultural forces that led to his victory. She then gave words of support to the ‘principled press’ and urged her peers to support journalists who will be covering the new administration."
Watch the full video of her remarks:
We have also transcribed Streep's speech. Read the full text here.
-- In a short telephone interview with the New York Times last night, Trump said he had not seen Streep’s remarks but was “not surprised” that he had come under attack from “liberal people.” And despite her denunciation, he maintained that celebrities would turn out in high numbers for his swearing-in ceremony next week. “We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” Trump said. “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”
-- Then this morning Trump took to Twitter to attack Streep with a storm of posts:
Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never "mocked" a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
"groveling" when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
-- Wildcard weekend is over:
- Aaron Rodgers is making the Packers great again. He led Green Bay to a 38-13 win over the Giants at Lambeau last night. (Kent Babb)
The Steelers coasted to a 30-12 triumph over the Dolphins, reinforcing the notion that they, not the second-seeded Kansas City Chiefs, might be the biggest threat to the top-seeded New England Patriots in the AFC playoffs. "But the feel-good vibe of the Steelers’ performance changed when Ben Roethlisberger was wearing a walking boot on his right foot after the game. He said he hurt his ankle on the second-to-last offensive play for the Steelers, prior to a final-snap kneel-down," Mark Maske reports from Heinz Field.
-- Athletes are bad role models, cont.:
- Odell Beckham Jr., the New York wide receiver, lost control of his emotions after the game, punching a hole in a wall at Lambeau Field, beating his head against a door and cursing at a stadium employee, according to ESPN. Beckham played abysmally, with four catches for 28 yards and several big drops. According to ESPN, Lambeau Field grounds crew members saw Beckham hitting the wall, which was between the locker room and the media room where he had just been speaking, then went over to it and noticed the hole. Paolantonio reported that Beckham also banged his head against the outside of his team’s locker room door. The New York Post’s Bart Hubbuch cited a grounds crew member who claimed that a co-worker, seeing Beckham standing next to the hole, had told the Giant to calm down. 'F— off,' the wide receiver is said to have replied before going into his locker room. (Des Bieler has more.)
A picture of the hole:
Odell Beckham was banging head against locker room door, per Sal Pal. Also believed to have punched this hole in pic.twitter.com/dOpRJyremD— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) January 9, 2017
Kellyanne Conway retweeted this amusing take on the game:
- Joey Porter, an assistant coach and former player for the Steelers, was arrested last night at a bar in Pittsburgh. The incident happened just hours after the game. From Des: "Police were called to the scene following reports of an 'an unruly customer who was in the process of assaulting the doorman.' A local TV station cited an eyewitness account of Porter trying to get into the bar, at which point an unspecified altercation involving a police officer occurred. Porter was taken to the Allegheny County Jail and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, public drunkenness and making terrorist threats."
- A basketball game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Missouri Tigers descended into complete madness just before halftime when a silly argument between players turned into a brawl between the coaching staffs. Marissa Payne has the story. A 30-second clip is below:
GET SMART FAST:
- A Palestinian man intentionally rammed a truck into Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, killing four and wounding a dozen others just blocks from the U.S. Consulate. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a terrorist attack, saying that “all the signs” show the driver was an ISIS supporter. (William Booth)
- More than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the robbery of Kim Kardashian, held at gunpoint several months ago as a gang of masked men ransacked her home. Police believe the perps stole more than $10 million in jewelry, including a ring worth an estimated $4.49 million. (Samantha Schmidt)
- The Fort Lauderdale airport gunman could face the death penalty. Esteban Santiago, 26, is an Iraq War veteran who showed signs of violence and “erratic behavior” in the months before opening fire on Friday. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance today. ICYMI: Here’s how the Fort Lauderdale gunman was able to get a gun past airport security — legally. (Elise Viebeck and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds were honored at a joint funeral, after dying within one day of each other last month. Fisher, an outspoken mental health advocate also known for her dry sense of humor, was laid to rest in an urn resembling a large Prozac pill! (The Hollywood Reporter)
- Republicans lawmakers in Kentucky passed “right to work” legislation on Saturday, becoming the 27th state to allow workers the right to receive union-negotiated benefits without paying dues to the representing body. This is Gov. Matt Bevin fulfilling one of his biggest campaign promises. (Reuters)
- A New York police captain is under fire after suggesting that “true stranger rapes” are more troubling than other forms of sexual assault, appearing to dismiss the severity of assault by an acquaintance or coworker as he attempted to downplay a rise in the number of reported rapes on his watch. (Amy B Wang)
- A powerful storm blasted the Sierra Nevadas with rain and heavy snowfall, leaving a vast swath of California bracing for a wave of potentially disastrous floods, avalanches and mudslides. (Sage Sauerbrey, Angela Fritz and T. Rees Shapiro)
- North Korea said it could test its first intercontinental missile “anytime and anywhere” -- rebuking Trump after he taunted Pyongyang's long-range missile capabilities. (New York Times)
- Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died after suffering an apparent heart attack. The 82-year-old was a leading figure in Tehran's moderate movement and was set to play a key role in selecting the next supreme leader. (Carol Morello)
- Ted Cruz and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Houston on Sunday, as she passed through on her way to Central America. In a statement, Cruz said he was “honored” to participate in the controversial get together, saying the group discussed upgrading bilateral relations and economic cooperation between the two countries. (Houston Chronicle)
- Hours later, the state-run Chinese tabloid Global Times warned Trump that China would "take revenge" if he backtracked on the One China policy, which asks the U.S. “not to allow” or have formal government meetings with Tsai. (Reuters)
- U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has arrived in the U.S. to meet with a team of top Trump advisers and congressional leaders. The discussions are expected to focus around U.S.-U.K. relations in the aftermath of last summer’s “Brexit,” a movement which Johnson championed. (CNN)
- More than 30 inmates were killed in a bloody gang-led prison rampage in Brazil – some with their hearts and intestines ripped out – that comes just days after gruesome riots at two neighboring prisons. It’s not immediately clear whether the events were connected, but police have dispatched heavily-armed squads to put down the uprising. (AP)
- Google’s autonomous driving spinoff, Waymo, has built its own self-driving sensors to pair with its new software. The move opens the door for the company to potentially sell a comprehensive system that automakers can build into future car models. (Steven Overly)
- Japan boasts one of the world’s most efficient train systems – even a 20-second delay leads to profuse apologies on the platform – but behind the nation’s eye-popping punctuality is an even more fascinating subculture of train fanatics. They study rail travel as an art form, obsessively mapping out imaginary trips “just for fun” and camping out to catch a view of rare incoming trains. (Anna Fifield)
- A poet whose work was used as source material on Texas standardized tests said the tests are so poorly conceived that even SHE cannot correctly answer questions about them! Her criticism places renewed scrutiny on state-run education mandates. (Valarie Strauss)
- Hillary Clinton received three standing ovations from the crowd when she attended “The Color Purple” on Broadway this weekend. The wave of support contrasts drastically from Mike Pence’s reception at “Hamilton,” where he was greeted with loud boos, a few cheers and a scolding by members of the cast. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- Former Turing Pharmaceutical executive and “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli was suspended from Twitter after harassing journalist Lauren Duca online. Shkreli trolled her through direct messages and on his own Twitter page – where he posted a collage of her personal photos and a photo-shopped image of them together – before his account was finally taken down. (Abby Ohlheiser)
-- Trump is standing by Monica Crowley, the TV talking head who he tapped to run communications for the National Security Council, despite mounting evidence that she's committed egregious, rampant and repeated plagiarism. From CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski: “The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, ‘What The (Bleep) Just Happened,’ found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia.” The transition team said pointing this out is "a politically-motivated attack." You may recall that the incoming first lady heavily plagiarized the outgoing first lady during her convention speech. (Read a side-by-side comparison of the plagiarism here.)
-- The world follows our example, good and bad: Ghana’s fifth-elected president was inaugurated this weekend – but national celebration gave way to embarrassment after it was revealed that the newly-minted leader plagiarized his speech verbatim from the inaugural addresses of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Officials have since apologized for the “oversight.” (Max Bearak)
-- “The Young Trump: Jared Kushner is more like his father-in-law than anyone imagines,” by New York Magazine's Andrew Rice: “If you forgot the context, the handsome, reed-thin young man might as well have been giving a TED Talk about an ambitious start-up, instead of a government soon to be led by a right-wing populist whom his opponents called the ‘chaos candidate.’ Ten blocks to the north, in his golden tower, Trump was nominating a climate-change skeptic for Interior secretary and tweeting gleefully about Russian hacking … [Still], Jared Kushner imagines his role as managerial, not policymaking. ‘I’m not political,’ he told the audience, not entirely credibly. In D.C., as Reagan’s adage goes, ‘People are policy,’ and no person, other than Trump himself, has been as politically instrumental in advancing the new president’s ambitions. … Kushner’s influence appears to be one hard truth at the center of the transition’s chimerical swirl of intrigue. He so far has no official White House title, and he may never have one.” But, as one political consultant notes, “There were three campaign managers … There was only one son-in-law.”
-- “Meet the Mercers: A Quiet Tycoon and His Daughter Become Power Brokers in Trump’s Washington,” by the Wall Street Journal’s Gregory Zuckerman, Keach Hagey, Scott Patterson, and Rebecca Ballhaus: “In February 2014, a group of conservative political donors gathered at New York’s Pierre Hotel to strategize about the coming presidential contest. Robert Mercer, a computer programmer and hedge-fund manager … issued a warning: Data he had seen indicated mainstream Republicans such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio would have difficulty winning the White House in 2016 ... He said only a true outsider with a sense of voters’ frustrations could win. Nearly three years later, [Trump] is headed to the White House, helped by the 70-year-old Mr. Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, 43. They are poised to become major power brokers in Mr. Trump’s Washington … [but it] isn’t clear what specific policies or positions, if any, the Mercers are seeking for their support of Mr. Trump. Mr. Mercer, for his part, is an unlikely kingmaker. A taciturn man, he often sits through meetings without uttering a word. He once told a colleague he preferred the company of cats to humans.” Peter Schweizer, who has worked with the family, notes: “Bob Mercer does not want to be ambassador to France.”
CONFIRMATION WEEK CURTAIN-RAISERS:
-- Members of Trump's "shadow cabinet" face a tangle of conflicts between personal and private interests, John Wagner and Ylan Q. Mui report: “Billionaire investor Carl Icahn will have the ear of [Trump] as an adviser focused on cutting government regulations. But Icahn also stands to benefit if his advice is taken: It could make the energy companies and others in which he has a stake more profitable. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who’s a major figure in her father’s business … is expected to continue to counsel him at the White House. And another Trump intimate — his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — is making no secret of his desire to profit on his continuing closeness to Trump, setting up a new lobbying firm with an office just a block from the White House. With confirmation hearings set to start for Trump’s Cabinet, ethics experts are voicing alarm about several other confidants of the president-elect — dubbed the ‘shadow Cabinet’ by one — who might not be subject to such scrutiny and could face a tangle of potential conflicts between their personal interests and those of the public. In [many] cases, it’s unclear whether the usual safeguards of public disclosure and divestment will come into play to prevent those serving the president from profiting personally from their work. The concerns have been amplified by the fact that they will be reporting to a Republican president who has been slow to address the potential conflicts stemming from his own real estate holdings and other business interests."
-- Making India Great Again? Jeff Sessions wants to make it harder for highly-skilled foreign workers to get jobs in the U.S., either by overhauling or scrapping H-1B visas. From Max Bearak: “The visas bring nearly 100,000 ‘highly skilled’ contract workers, mostly in tech and mostly from India, to the United States every year. According to federal guidelines, H-1Bs are intended to fill positions for which American workers with the requisite skills can’t be found. ... Amid promises of sweeping changes to immigration policy ... (Trump and Sessions) have singled out the program for a major overhaul, or even scrapping it altogether." Indian government officials are pumped that Trump's nativist policies will stop the brain drain that has seen its best and brightest move to America in search of opportunity: "Should the U.S. move against H-1Bs, their economy stands to gain … [and many] are confident that their city can compete with Silicon Valley for India’s brightest young minds.”
-- “Sessions’s actions alone are disqualifying,” by Post columnist Colbert I. King: “Next to the White House, the most talked-about federal entity in my world of the ’50s and ’60s was the Justice Department. Few editions of the Washington Afro American newspaper or weekly Jet magazine failed to contain mention of a DOJ action in civil rights enforcement. Bring up the scourge of discrimination, and Justice was there, or so it seemed. The Justice Department’s role in promoting equal justice for all was, and remains, indispensable. Which draws attention to Sessions...
“If confirmed, the nation will have an attorney general who, as a senator: Applauded the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, which gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Voted yes on a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. Opposed the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Opposed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Voted to ease restrictions on wiretapping of cellphones. Voted to abolish a program that helps businesses owned by women and minorities compete for federally funded transportation projects.”
-- “Some cabinet nominees arrive at confirmation hearings with records that require considerable guesswork. Not Mr. Sessions,” the New York Times reports in a deep dive on Page One. “[Still], for all that is known about Mr. Sessions, one thing that is unclear is how he will measure up to what he has declared to be a crucial test of an attorney general’s qualifications: the willingness to stand up to the president, who in this case plucked him from obscurity. Now, as Mr. Trump embarks on a presidency in which he promises to remake Washington and dispense with many of its traditions, it will fall to Mr. Sessions to decide if and when to say no." (Sharon LaFraniere and Matt Apuzzo)
-- But, but, but: Despite holding a litany of positions that put him outside of the mainstream, Sessions is a "heavy favorite" to be confirmed. Paul Kane explains why: “Sessions should have been a tough sell in the Senate. [He] voted to impeach [Clinton], opposed [Obama’s] Supreme Court nominees and led the opposition to a 2013 bipartisan immigration bill. He was also denied a federal judgeship 30 years ago — by the Senate — amid allegations that as U.S. attorney he had improperly prosecuted black voting rights activists. ,.. But here’s something else to know about Sessions: He is one of the more well-liked members of the Senate, a place that still retains elements of one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. And that has given fellow Republicans and even some Democrats reason not to scrutinize the more unsavory allegations of his political history. ‘He’s a decent individual with a strong commitment to the rule of law,’ [Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins] said in an interview.”
-- Jim Mattis’s advocacy for aggression against Iran alienated him from the Obama administration at times. But under a President Trump, he may need to act as a voice of caution. From Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous: “Soon after Mattis was tapped to lead U.S. forces in the Middle East in August 2010, Obama asked the general to spell out his top priorities. Mattis replied that he had three: ‘Number one Iran. Number two Iran. Number three Iran.’ … The general’s singular focus unnerved some civilian leaders, who thought he should pay attention to a broader range of threats. His style and Marine swagger often struck the wrong chord in a White House that was focused on diplomacy. … Now Mattis is poised to serve a new commander in chief whose brash approach could force the former general into a new and unfamiliar role[:] As defense secretary, Mattis may be compelled to act as a check on an inexperienced president’s instincts. There are already some signs that he is thinking along these lines and indications that his task will not be an easy one."
-- ICYMI: Mad Dog is showing his independence and standing his ground in early turf wars with Michael Flynn. From Josh Rogin: “Mattis has been rejecting large numbers of candidates offered by the transition team for several top posts … Initially, both Mattis and the Trump team intended to engage in a collaborative process whereby Mattis would be given significant influence and participation in selecting top Pentagon appointees. But the arrangement started going south only two weeks later when Mattis had to learn from the news media that Trump had selected Vincent Viola, a billionaire Army veteran, to be secretary of the Army. [That’s when things went south.] … Mattis is also pushing for the Trump transition team to allow ‘Never Trump’ Republicans to serve in the Pentagon, but so far the Trump team is refusing. One position that is a source of tension is undersecretary of defense for intelligence, a powerful post that oversees all Defense Department intelligence agencies, which include the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Mattis has rejected all of the names the Trump team has offered to be the top intelligence official in the department … Mattis is also unlikely to accept Trump’s top Pentagon transition landing team official, Mira Ricardel, as a top official.”
-- Trump is expected to give members of his cabinet “wide latitude,” Politico’s Josh Dawsey and Andrew Restuccia forecast: “He plans to give his Cabinet secretaries and top aides significant latitude to run their federal agencies, marking a sharp departure from Barack Obama's tightly controlled management style, according to people involved … Trump, they say, doesn’t usually like getting into day-to-day minutiae or taking lengthy briefings on issues. He doesn't have particularly strong feelings on the intricacies of some government issues and agencies … and would rather focus on high-profile issues, publicity and his brand. The approach comes with both upsides and downsides. On the one hand, Trump’s top leaders will likely be given plenty of latitude to act quickly and decisively … But on the other, [they] will always carry with them the risk of being blindsided when the incoming president decides on a whim to weigh in on some topic in their portfolio. ‘You’d go several days when you wouldn’t hear from him,’ said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide. ‘Then, he’d ask you … What’s going on with this?’”
SUNDAY SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:
-- Mitch McConnell said the Senate will not delay hearings for Trump’s cabinet picks, despite a federal watchdog going public with serious concerns that several have not submitted proper paperwork or been properly vetted. This is at odds with the position McConnell took when expressing concern about Obama's nominees eight years ago, including Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle. "I know how it feels when you’re coming into a new situation and the other guy’s won the election,” the majority leader said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “All of these little procedural complaints are related to their frustrations.” He added: “We sort of need to grow up here and get past that.” (Ed O’Keefe)
McConnell also said that all nascent administrations have sought to improve relations with Moscow, including Obama’s and Bush 43's: “It’s not unusual for a new president to want to get along with Russia,” he said. “My suspicion is that his hopes will be dashed pretty quickly. Russia is a big adversary and they demonstrated it by trying to mess around in our elections.”
-- Obama said he did not misjudge potential threats from Vladimir Putin in the presidential race. “I don’t think I underestimated him,” the president told George Stephanopolous on ABC News’ “This Week,” “but I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation, for cyberhacking and so forth, to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating.”
The outgoing president also reiterated his concerns that some in the GOP seem to have “more confidence in [Putin]” then progressive Americans: “We have to remind ourselves we’re on the same team,” he said. “Putin’s not on our team. If we get to a point where people in this country feel more affinity with a leader who is an adversary and view the United States and our way of life as a threat to him, then we’re gonna have bigger problems than just cyberhacking.” (David Nakamura)
-- Liberal organizations are planning to use inauguration weekend to mobilize activists against Trump, capitalizing on the left-leaning crowds expected to descend on the nation’s capital for demonstrations. Perry Stein reports: “While there will be many people celebrating the incoming president, groups of socialists, lawyers and civil rights activists will meet at venues throughout Washington to coordinate and strategize for what they hope will be four years of organized resistance to parts of Trump’s agenda. Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington is hosting a Pink Ball on inauguration night … and [comedians throughout the country] are participating in stand-up comedy events on Jan. 19 as part of a fundraiser, called What a Joke, for the [ACLU]. 'There is a lot of energy right now,' said Bhaskar Sunkara, the publisher and editor of Jacobin magazine, a socialist publication … ‘We expect many thousands and thousands of people to want to gather and regroup after a day of protest.’”
-- NAACP chief Cornell William Brooks promises “more civil disobedience” to protest Trump’s Cabinet nominees – as well as the senators who plan to “rubber-stamp” their confirmations -- after he and five others were arrested for holding a sit-in at the office of Jeff Sessions. (Janell Ross)
-- THE SADDEST THING YOU’LL READ TODAY: Longtime announcer Charlie Brotman has been the voice of every presidential inauguration since Eisenhower – but this year, the 89-year-old has been benched by Team Trump. WJLA’s Mike Carter-Conneen reports: Brotman, who had already begun prepping for the 45th president’s parade before being told via email that he would not be invited back, said he was he was "heartbroken" and "destroyed" by the decision at first. "I've been doing this for 60 years," he said. Still, Brotman wishes his successor well – and, at time of interview, said he is being courted by “multiple” media outlets and networks to help usher in the big day. “Two more came in just today,” he noted with excitement.
-- Trump took to Twitter this weekend to cheer the “upset victory” of Jane Timken over the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party (John Kasich ally Matt Borges). The president-elect personally lobbied at least a dozen members of the central committee to vote for Timken to replace Borges, who was critical of Trump during the general election. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
THE FOURTH ESTATE:
-- Fake news has lost its meaning, and now it’s time to retire the term, argues WaPo media columnist Margaret Sullivan: “Faster than you could say ‘Pizzagate,’ the label has been co-opted to mean any number of completely different things: Liberal claptrap. Or opinion from left-of-center. Or simply anything in the realm of news that the observer doesn’t like to hear." Instead, she says, “Call a lie a lie. Call a hoax a hoax. Call a conspiracy theory by its rightful name. After all, 'fake news' is an imprecise expression to begin with." Quote du jour, from George Washington University professor Nikki Usher Sullivan: "The speed with which the term became polarized and in fact a rhetorical weapon illustrates how efficient the conservative media machine has become."
-- “Why President Trump is ‘a nightmare for Univision,’” by Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo: “Current and former executives, talent and employees paint a picture of a network that went all-in on a Clinton victory and vanquishing the man they painted as a real-life villain for a year and a half — a network wholly unprepared for the possibility that he might win. One former executive said there was no plan B. 'The hubris was so large they were sure they were going to win,' they said. 'It’s a nightmare for Univision,' one top talent said. 'The network chose and Jorge (Ramos) himself chose to be Trump’s main antagonist.' Employees say that conversations have been had at the highest levels of the [news department] where leadership has been introspective, wondering if they understand the Hispanic audience as well as they say they do."
-- The Obama legacy --> “At a Chicago housing project, pride in Obama, but a hope for more change,” by William Wan: “As the age of Obama draws to a close, pundits are already debating his legacy. And Obama himself is preparing to deliver a final speech Tuesday at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. But 16 miles south, in the Chicago housing project where Obama made his first attempt at public service, unresolved feelings run deep about the first black president and what exactly the past eight years have meant. Altgeld’s residents — almost all African American — are fiercely proud of what Obama has accomplished and of the improbable role they played in his journey. But they are also frustrated that Obama has not done more for desperate communities like theirs. ... ‘After all these years, after all that we’ve been through as a race, as a country, we finally got a black man into office and what did it do? What has it really changed? Our schools? The cops? Courts?’ [said one resident]. ‘It doesn’t feel any less rigged than before. If a black president can’t change that, what will?’”
-- “Brexit could leave fields of rotting crops in Britain if migrant workers stay away,” by Karla Adam: “It is a quintessentially British scene: watching the annual Wimbledon tournament while munching on British strawberries and cream. But farmers here are warning that fruit and vegetables — including their beloved strawberries — could be left to rot in the fields this summer because Eastern Europeans are reluctant to work on British farms following the Brexit vote. A recent survey by the National Farmers Union … found that 47 percent of the companies that provide agricultural labor said they did not have enough workers to meet demand between June and September of last year. After the vote last summer, there was a spike in anti-immigrant assaults and recruiters say that these kind of reports spread quickly among immigrant communities. 'They do not have to come and work in the U.K.,' said politician Helen Whately. 'They are in demand across the whole European Union.'"
-- Gun silencers are hard to buy. But avid hunter Donald Trump Jr. is working with the gun lobby to change that. Michael S. Rosenwald reports: “The legislation stalled in Congress last year. But with Republicans in charge of the House and Senate and the elder Trump moving into the White House, gun rights advocates are excited about its prospects this year. They hope to position the bill … not as a Second Amendment issue, but as a public-health effort to safeguard the eardrums of the nation’s 55 million gun owners. They even named it the Hearing Protection Act. It would end treating silencers as the same category as machine guns and grenades, thus eliminating a $200 tax and a nine-month approval process. 'It’s about safety,' Trump Jr. explained. 'It’s a health issue, frankly.'"
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
We'll begin with a sobering memory -- Gabrielle Giffords's shooting was six years ago on Sunday. Here's her tweet announcing the event from that day:
My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later.— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2011
And here's what she wrote over the weekend:
On January 8, 2011, innocent lives were taken and countless others will never be the same. https://t.co/xSYZAj3iJn— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2017
After the tragedy in Tucson, our city united as one. People came together to cry, to mourn & to heal. Today, our city is stronger than ever.— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2017
While I still cannot make sense of this tragedy, I can only hope that something positive can come from all of this. https://t.co/xSYZAj3iJn— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2017
No family or community should ever have to endure another senseless tragedy like the one that took place on January 8, 2011.— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2017
I wake up each and every day grateful and determined to make the most of my second chance at life and service. pic.twitter.com/jiykcg6Czi— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2017
I pledge to do my best, each & every day, to honor the memories of those who were taken in the Tucson shooting by making our country safer. pic.twitter.com/Qltgh287C8— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2017
Meanwhile, Trump and his team made this claim:
Though apparently they knew the deal:
Sean Hannity lit up Twitter with this message -- which he ultimately deleted:
Hannity appears to have approvingly retweeted a Trump troll account...? pic.twitter.com/GATqLjim9n— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 8, 2017
Conservatives honed in on this comment:
Question; WW2, which enemy country did we have an alliance with to defeat the Nazis? https://t.co/xeHvbraGZW— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) January 8, 2017
Oh dear Lord. https://t.co/m9dbo6yVOc— Matt Welch (@MattWelch) January 8, 2017
Kind of wild to see conservatives in 2017 defending Russia today because they were our allies in WWII. That's the Rosenberg Defense!— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) January 8, 2017
Just more people flunking basic integrity and history tests because they love power/influence so darn much. https://t.co/6LOg0TIxgW— David French (@DavidAFrench) January 8, 2017
As we head into a busy week, here's a reminder of the standards McConnell set for Obama nominees to move forward in 2009:
Mitch McConnell to Reid in 2009: nominee "financial disclosures must be complete... prior 2hearing being scheduled." pic.twitter.com/wxCfXTPS6g— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) January 8, 2017
Brian Schatz slammed the GOP for scheduling confirmation hearings on top of one another and failing to complete ethics reviews:
1) Simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees make it physically impossible for most of us, on multiple committees, to advise and consent.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 8, 2017
2) Add to that the lack of a full disclosure of the standard ethics information, and we are being asked to rubber stamp a cabinet.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 8, 2017
3) The current plan is for these hearings to be more brief than usual, without multiple rounds of questions.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 8, 2017
4) The Senate must never forfeit its constitutional responsibilities.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 8, 2017
House Democrats trolled Trump ahead of his press conference on Wednesday:
Fun fact! The last time the President-elect held a press conference, he encouraged Russia to hack Secretary Clinton's emails.— Foreign Affairs Cmte (@HFACDemocrats) January 6, 2017
A telling scene from outside Trump Tower:
Populism! pic.twitter.com/7st89eIMmx— Atossa Abrahamian (@atossaaraxia) January 4, 2017
Alec Baldwin taunted Trump with this hat (it says "Make America Great Again" in broken Russian):
Arnold Schwarzenegger responded to Trump bashing his "Celebrity Apprentice" ratings:
I wish you the best of luck and I hope you'll work for ALL of the American people as aggressively as you worked for your ratings.— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 6, 2017
Donald still has a producer credit on Arnold's new show, and it's pretty obvious that Trump tweeted a dig at the show in an effort to gin up ratings. Many reporters faulted other reporters for covering the faux social media feud:
Trump is better at getting the media to write about the TV show he produces than Obama was at getting it to write about Merrick Garland.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 6, 2017
Celebrities posted tons of photos from the Obamas' farewell party:
WikiLeaks -- a non-state actor which did Russia's bidding throughout 2016 -- made this proposal, which drew significant backlash, then deleted the tweet:
Here's how Twitter replied:
Posting another person’s private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter Rules: https://t.co/NGx5hh2tTQ— Safety (@safety) January 6, 2017
WikiLeaks also caught flak for this post:
The Obama admin/CIA is illegally funneling TOP SECRET//COMINT information to NBC for political reasons before PEOTUS even gets to read it.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 6, 2017
Huh. So they're, like, leaking? And Wiki*Leaks* sees a problem there? Verrrrry interesting. https://t.co/IYZyxQQBdP— Joan McCarter (@joanmccarter) January 6, 2017
Wait — Since when was WikiLeaks opposed to the public release of classified information? https://t.co/5kOlNROu7W— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) January 6, 2017
Your name literally has leaks in it. https://t.co/mQzyeiw0nz— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) January 6, 2017
A Republican congressman removed a painting belonging to a Democratic congressman from a House Office Building hallway because he disagreed with it:
Apparently Rep. Duncan Hunter removed the painting depicting cops as pigs that Rep. William Lacy Clay chose to hang in the Cannon tunnel. pic.twitter.com/FNyq58nOf1— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 6, 2017
This was the painting that Duncan Hunter removed. pic.twitter.com/GxCEEOQ6qP— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 6, 2017
Lawmakers enjoyed a snowy winter weekend:
Steve Scalise's son made a "Trump Mobile" for the Pinewood Derby:
Finally, Rick Crawford welcomed a new dog to his staff:
And this thought from Cory Booker:
Be kind to unkind people. They really need it.— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 8, 2017
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Senators Who Think Benghazi Is Worst Scandal Ever Threaten to Turn Every Embassy Into Benghazi,” from Slate: “Remember Benghazi? Congressional Republicans have spent the past four years using the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya to go after [Clinton] and the Obama administration over their failure to protect American personnel overseas. But now that Clinton has been defeated, [former presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio] are willing to use the safety of American diplomatic personnel as a bargaining chip. … [The two senators helped] introduce legislation this week aimed at pressuring the incoming Trump administration to make good on its pledge to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by threatening to cut security funding for embassies around the world. To literally make embassies less secure.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
"Citing "bathroom bill," Percy Jackson author declines Legislature invitation,” from the Texas Tribune: “The author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is declining to attend the Texas Legislature’s celebration of authors event, saying the reason is because of proposed legislation that would prevent transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity. Rick Riordan, who was born in San Antonio and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, wrote on Twitter on Friday afternoon that he turned down the Legislature’s invitation on Friday due to Senate Bill 6, which Texas Republicans announced on Thursday. ‘If they want to honor me, they could stop this nonsense,’ Riordan said in his tweet. Riordan's tweet is one of the first whiffs of potential fallout as the Legislature considers Senate Bill 6 …”
POTUS has a quiet day as he preps for tomorrow night’s farewell address. He has several meetings at the White House, and Josh Earnest briefs at 12:30 p.m. Joe Biden flies from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a speech on the Cancer Moonshot at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Then he flies to Detroit for a fundraiser to help Mayor Mike Duggan. He’ll overnight there.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 2 p.m., with at least one roll call vote at 5:30 p.m. on Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) alternative budget proposal. The House meets at 2 p.m. for legislative business, with five suspension votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.
THIS WEEK'S SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS:
- Judiciary Committee, Sessions for attorney general.
- Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Gen. John Kelly (Ret.), for homeland security secretary
- Sessions hearing continues
- Foreign Relations Committee, Rex Tillerson, for secretary of state
- Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Pompeo, for CIA director
- Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Betsy DeVos, for education secretary
- Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Elaine Chao, for transportation secretary
- Tillerson hearing expected to continue
- Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Wilbur Ross, commerce secretary
- Banking, House and Urban Affairs, Ben Carson, housing and urban development secretary
- Tentatively Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Andrew Puzder, labor secretary
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who spent a decade in the CIA, questioned Trump's loyalties to the United States on MSNBC yesterday: “There are two tests, the first test is this question: Does Donald Trump act on behalf of a foreign power, or does he act in the interests of a foreign power especially over our own interests? The clear answer to that is yes, and that is very alarming.” McMullin then questioned whether the president-elect is under the "control of a foreign power”: “That’s very hard to determine. I think we would know more if we had his tax returns.” (The Hill)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Time to break out ALL the layers – today will bring the bitterest cold snap we’ve had all year. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Bundle up heading to work or school, as some locations are in the single digits! Mostly sunny skies in the morning help temperatures climb into the 20s. Afternoon highs range from 25 to 30 as some high clouds stream in.” (Here’s the full list of D.C.-area school closings and delays.)
-- Longtime D.C. TV anchor Maureen Bunyan is out from her post at WJLA, signaling what could be the end of her decades-long presence on Washington-area airwaves after the station decided not to renew her contract. The 71-year-old is one of the first African American women in the nation to anchor a local evening newscast, Paul Farhi reports, and has appeared nearly continuously on local airwaves for four decades.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Kay and Peele brought back "Luther," the president's anger translator, for one last appearance on "The Daily Show." (Watch the clip here.)
Mark Hamill, who has voiced the Joker for decades, read some Trump tweets aloud in character and posted the audio to social media:
Celebrities, leaders and supporters shared their favorite moments from the Obama presidency:
Michelle Obama made an emotional final speech as first lady:
Obama previewed his farewell address in this video:
Jimmy Kimmel rebuked Trump in this segment about the nature of truth:
Stephen Colbert talked about Trump tweets, Zuckerberg's potential foray into politics and McDonald's -- with God:
Are we in the era of "Trump and Cover"? Colbert thinks so:
Want your home to look like Charlie Rose's interview studio? Announcing Charlie Rose in a Can:
Things got deep in this segment with Stephen Colbert and Charlie Rose:
Watch Aaron Rodgers's hail mary's during last night's game:
After their meet was canceled because of weather, the Georgia Tech swim team went diving into the snow: