Donald Trump campaigns in February with Jeff Sessions in Alabama. Trump will nominate the senator to be his attorney general. (John Bazemore/AP)
|BY JAMES HOHMANN
| with Breanne Deppisch
THE BIG IDEA: The metaphor of the moment is that Donald Trump is the dog that caught up with the car. Multiple members of his own transition team have used this analogy when explaining their scramble to catch up. The truth is that almost no one on his own team thought he could win. They planned, or didn’t plan, accordingly.
A more apt reference, especially after Trump’s inauguration, might be the Pottery Barn Rule. Colin Powell popularized this doctrine in the foreign policy context. The then-secretary of state warned George W. Bush about the consequences of invading Iraq: "You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You'll own it all." As Bob Woodward recounted in a 2004 book, “Privately, Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.”
-- Trump and the congressional Republicans who have chosen to make their bed with him are responsible for what happens from now on. There is now no one to blame if they can't pass budgets, avoid shutdowns, deal with sequestration, replace Obamacare, destroy ISIS or reverse the continuing loss of manufacturing jobs. If climate change gets worse, it’s on them. If Syria continues its downward spiral, it’s on them. If more countries acquire nuclear weapons, it’s on them. It may be totally unfair, but that’s the way our system works.
Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One in Berlin a few moments ago. (Clemens Bilanc/AFP/Getty Images)
-- This is a rude awakening that faces every president, regardless of party, but it will be especially acute for someone who has demonstrated a preternatural unwillingness to take personal responsibility for anything.
Barack Obama constantly blamed Bush and the Republicans for the lingering effects of the Great Recession, but by the 2010 midterms – just two years after the greatest economic calamity in 80 years – most voters were sick and tired of what they saw as excuses. Fairly or not, they punished Democrats for their pain. Congressional Republicans made a strategic decision not to help Obama; it paid political dividends but corroded public faith in the institutions of government. Now congressional Democrats are faced with a similar choice.
-- Republicans are about to have unified control of government for the first time since 2006, which was three years before the birth of the tea party movement. The GOP has changed dramatically during the intervening decade, lurching rightward from being for smaller government toward being anti-government. Then the party’s rank-and-file nominated someone for president who is simultaneously promising the biggest tax cuts ever, a massive increase in defense spending and steadfast opposition to any entitlement reform.
The last time Republicans had unified control of the government, the American people were so happy with how it went that they made San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House and a community activist turned law professor named Barack Hussein Obama the first black president. Both developments were unthinkable to many at this juncture in 2004. Trump’s rise is, at least to some degree, a belated over-correction to the overreach of Pelosi, Obama and Harry Reid during their two years with super-majorities.
John Barrasso, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn leave a meeting of Senate Republicans. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
-- The GOP now has a lot on its plate for the first 100 days. Many Republicans in the Capitol are talking about trying to use reconciliation to repeal Obamacare in January. Trump has suggested his top priority will be an infrastructure spending package.
Trump’s appointees need to get confirmed. Attorney General-designee Jeff Sessions, whose nomination to a federal judgeship was blocked in the 1980s by a bipartisan group of senators because of alleged racist comments he had made as U.S. attorney, will not be able to coast through the Judiciary Committee, despite the fact he is a member. (In fact, that actually hurts his prospects – because he cannot vote for himself.)
Much more importantly, because it will shape the country for a generation, the president-elect must quickly decide on a Supreme Court pick. A bunch of the names on his list of 21 could face heavy resistance.
Yesterday Trump made his first stamp on Congress as House Republicans bowed to his wishes and announced plans to extend government funding through March, despite warnings from top GOP senators that such a short-term spending strategy will wreak havoc on the first several months of his presidency. In addition to the big-ticket items, Trump will now need to negotiate a bill to fund the government. This could wind up wasting a lot of time and blunting any early momentum he might get.
Politically-savvy Republican lawmakers on the Hill are baffled by the decision to pass only a three-month C.R., instead of clearing the deck. “It’ll only get harder,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) “You’ll have a smaller margin of error in the Senate, and we’re not likely to get any Democratic cooperation in the new year.” Trump allies argue that they’ll have more leverage without needing to deal with Obama, and they bet that Democrats will never allow a shutdown. But, here again, they will own the outcome of the spending fight. (Kelsey Snell and Mike DeBonis have more on the short-sighted strategy.)
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney talk last December during a ceremony at the Capitol. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
-- Will deficits matter to this unified Republican government? The GOP has a long history of only caring about the national debt during election years and when they are out of power. Fiscal discipline has tended to go out the window when they’re the ones who get to write the checks.
Ronald “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” Dick Cheney reportedly said in 2002 as he pushed for a second round of Bush tax cuts at the same time that the government was ramping up expenditures for the war on terror, homeland security and Iraq.
When Reagan took office, the size of the national debt was $1.1 trillion. When he left, it was $2.9 trillion. The debt increased by more than $5 trillion during Bush 43’s presidency.
-- Nothing in Trump’s business record, which includes six bankruptcies, suggests he will be a deficit hawk. If Trump was still a Democrat, which he was the last time Republicans ran Washington, many GOP lawmakers would loudly worry about this. But we’re already seeing some of the likeliest conservative dissidents fall in line.
-- The influence and intellectual integrity of conservative outside groups will be tested as never before in the coming months, from the Koch political network to Heritage Action and the Club for Growth. The GOP relentlessly attacked Obama’s “stimulus” in 2009, turning it into a dirty word, but it looks like the party is about to get behind the same sort of massive infrastructure spending. There is also a push by Republican members in the House to bring back earmarks, though it has been put off for now.
-- Besides winning, what are Trump’s core convictions? Every leak out of Trump Tower only bolsters the narrative that Trump lacks a cohesive worldview or a coherent ideology. As Herbert Hoover once said of FDR, Trump is a chameleon in plaid. He ran against Common Core; now he’s considering two Common Core cheerleaders for Education secretary. He ran against interventionism, but now he’s mulling John Bolton for State. He spent months lacing into Mitt Romney as the symbol of a broken GOP; now his team is floating that the 2012 nominee could be asked to run Foggy Bottom. Trump promised to drain the swamp; now he’s relying on swamp creatures to show him how.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
Jeff Sessions boards an elevator at Trump Tower yesterday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
-- Trump has offered the position of attorney general to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and the position of CIA director to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), people close to the transition tell Elise Viebeck, Phil Rucker and Karen DeYoung. "Sessions’s offer was finalized Thursday and the senator has been working with staff to lay the groundwork for an official announcement ... Two people who have spoken directly with Trump officials said Pompeo had been offered and has accepted the job of CIA director."
B-matter on both:
"Sessions, 69, was Trump’s first endorser in the Senate and quickly became the then-candidate’s chief resource on policy. Known for his hard-line views on immigration, the fourth-term senator has been dogged by accusations of racism throughout his career. In 1986, he was denied a federal judgeship after former colleagues testified before a Senate that he joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were 'okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.'"
"Pompeo, 52, was elected to the House in 2010 as part of the first wave of tea party lawmakers. A West Point and Harvard Law School graduate, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and is a close ally of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Notably, Pompeo backed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) over Trump in the Republican presidential primary. Pompeo is a vocal critic of President Obama’s nuclear accord with Iran."
Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn arrives at Trump Tower yesterday. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
-- Last night Trump announced retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn as his White House national security adviser, elevating his controversial surrogate with a record of incendiary statements about Muslims to one of the most powerful positions in the government. (Philip Rucker, Karen DeYoung and David Nakamura)
Greg Miller turns a quick profile: “As a decorated military intelligence officer and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Flynn has deep experience to draw upon in the role. But Flynn has also shown an erratic streak since leaving government that is likely to make his elevation disconcerting even to the flag officers and senior intelligence officials who once considered him a peer. Flynn stunned former colleagues when he traveled to Moscow last year to appear alongside Vladimir Putin at a lavish gala for the Kremlin-run propaganda channel RT. … He was forced out of his job as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 over concerns about his leadership style. ... A longtime Democrat and native of Rhode Island who grew up in a military family, Flynn has articulated an increasingly dark vision of the direction of the United States, [warning] that it is failing to adequately address the threat posed by what he calls a ‘diseased component’ of Islam. His behavior has drawn ire of former colleagues and superiors, including retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who formerly tapped Flynn as his top intelligence officer."
In February, Flynn tweeted a YouTube video link with this message:
-- Flynn's son, who works as the "chief of staff" for his consulting business, regularly shares conspiracy theories, expletive-filled posts and racially insensitive sentiments on social media. “[The younger] Flynn frequently shares unfounded conspiracy theories, like ones claiming Hillary Clinton and President Obama would be tried for treason if Trump is elected," per CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott. "He also posted an unfounded story claiming hackers would release a video of Bill Clinton raping a teenage girl. Flynn tweeted multiple times unfounded claims about Sen. Marco Rubio's ‘coke house, gayish dance troupe, and foam parties.’ On Twitter, the younger Flynn frequently re-tweets Paul Watson, editor for the conspiracy website InfoWars, sometimes using the hashtag ‘#infowars’ himself.”
-- Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, blasted the Flynn pick in a lengthy statement at 10:05 p.m.: “I am deeply concerned about (Flynn’s) views on Russia, which over the last twelve months have demonstrated the same fondness for the autocratic and belligerent Kremlin which animate President-elect Trump's praise of Putin. The incoming President would be better served by someone with a healthy skepticism about Russian intentions, and willing to be guided by the unequivocal intelligence we have of Russian's malignant policies towards the U.S. and our allies. … General Flynn's uncritical acceptance of the Turkish crackdown on dissent, and his call for the extradition of the cleric Gulen without seeing any evidence of complicity in the aborted coup is also worrying. While Turkey is an important NATO ally, we cannot blind ourselves to its increasingly authoritarian character and the bonds it has been forming with Russia and Iran.” Expect more statements like this to come from other Democrats in the coming hours...
-- Many of the best and brightest candidates for sub-cabinet positions – assistant secretaries, deputy assistants, etc. – have been taking a wait-and-see approach on Trump. Flynn’s pick will discourage some cream-of-the-crop folks from agreeing to serve in the president-elect’s national security apparatus. “Everyone is having this exact same conversation,” said Daniel Twining, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States who advised John McCain on foreign policy. “Everyone is saying, ‘What are you going to do?’”
“For some who have tried to change an administration from the inside, the advice to fellow conservatives is far bleaker and their sense of the dilemma their colleagues are facing is dire,” Annie Linskey reports in the Boston Globe. “It’s not good,” said Alberto Mora, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. “Trump’s policies, positions, and character and behavior are such that it just pushed away individuals who would otherwise be eager to participate in a Republican administration.” Mora, who worked in both Bush administrations, has a unique insight into the limits of what one civil servant can do: As general counsel of the Navy he led an effort to prevent legal codification of George W. Bush’s policies on enhanced interrogation procedures. “You need to be comfortable that the president won’t willfully order you to do something unlawful,” said Mora, who received a Profile in Courage Award for his efforts combating torture.
Clarence Thomas comments on a spoon and fork he found on the podium while addressing the Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention dinner at National Harbor last night. (Cliff Owen/AP)
-- Clarence Thomas, speaking at a Federalist Society dinner last night, called on fellow conservatives to re-dedicate themselves “to the unfinished business for which Justice Scalia gave his last full measure of devotion.” From the AP: “Thomas told 1,700 people at a dinner in honor of Scalia that the Supreme Court has too often granted rights to people that are not found in the Constitution. He cited the decision in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal across the country.” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., speaking earlier in the day, listed issues that concern him and said he’s guided by the question: “What would Scalia do?” (Robert Barnes)
Tim Ryan is taking on Nancy Pelosi. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
GET SMART FAST:
- Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) announced he will challenge Nancy Pelosi for House Minority Leader. “I believe we all need to re-evaluate our roles within the Caucus, the Democratic Party, and our country,” Ryan wrote in a letter announcing his bid. Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, who was another floated contender, is out. (Paul Kane)
- Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.) beat House Freedom Caucus member Andy Harris (Md.) to chair the Republican Study Committee, a blow to the tea party insurgents. Walker, in just his second term, will be the youngest-ever member to lead the influential group of conservatives. (Politico)
- JPMorgan Chase reached a $264 million settlement with U.S. authorities over a bribery case in China, after it was revealed that the bank hired the children of Chinese leaders in exchange for lucrative business deals. (New York Times)
- Michigan is fighting a court order demanding officials deliver bottled water to Flint residents who cannot easily pick up their own, calling the requirement “unnecessary” and saying it would require “a tremendous expenditure of taxpayer funds.” (Brady Dennis)
- It’s the beginning of winter at the North Pole – but the relative lack of chill in the Arctic is alarming scientists. Researchers say the temperatures are 36 degrees hotter than usual – “freakishly” warm weather that could break records set just last year. (Chris Mooney and Jason Samenow)
- Police in Kosovo said they thwarted a pair of “synchronized” Islamic State attacks, including one targeting Israeli’s national soccer team. At least 19 have been detained in connection with the planned attacks. (AP)
- Puerto Rico is expecting some 1,000 fewer babies born this year than originally thought. Government officials said the decline can be partially attributed to a rise in the Zika virus, as well as economic woes that have left many on the island financially strapped. (Wall Street Journal)
- The United States was one of three countries to vote against an anti-Nazi resolution at the U.N., citing freedom of speech issues and concerns Russia was using it to carry out political attacks against its neighbors. (AP)
- An Arizona police officer was placed on leave after he was captured on video punching a woman in the face. Department officials said they were “very concerned” by the incident, which occurred after the woman failed to cooperate during an arrest. (Sarah Larimer)
- A woman is suing Brown University, saying that administrators at the school acted indifferently and failed to adequately investigate when she reported being raped by three students on the Ivy League school’s football team. The lawsuit says authorities later found explicit photos of one of the accused students with the woman at the time of the assault, along with text messages that appeared to show the students laughing about the reported rape hours later. The school opened an investigation, but never finished it and never doled out any punishment, the suit alleges. A Brown spokesman said officials are “confident” in the decisions the university made and noted that a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges. ( Boston Globe)
- A Maryland woman was mauled in her driveway by a 200-pound black bear, a freak wildlife encounter that occurred just steps from her front porch. She may have inadvertently stepped between a mother bear and her cubs, a very bad place to be. (Dana Hedgpeth)
- Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's Bloomberg politics show, “With All Due Respect,” has been canceled. The two will host until Dec. 2. (HuffPost)
- A new Department of Agriculture investigation found that the barriers around Harambe’s zoo exhibit failed to meet federal standards – adding yet another layer to the saga of the 400-pound gorilla, who in death divided millions before eventually becoming an internet meme. (2016 is weird.) (Ben Guarino)
Tim Kaine works in his Senate office yesterday. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
TIM KAINE INTERVIEW:
-- The Virginia senator, returning to work yesterday, ruled out running for president in 2020 but said he's definitely seeking reelection in 2018. "I’m disappointed … but I have a job to do here that in some ways may have gotten more important," he told our Jenna Portnoy, with bluegrass music playing in the background.
-- Kaine had never lost an election before, and he was convinced they'd win last week when he saw the returns from the conservative Richmond suburb of Chesterfield, where Trump had a relatively weak showing. It hadn’t occurred to him that they could win the popular vote by more than 1 million votes and still lose the election.
He really didn't want to delve into why he lost, but he noted that Hillary ran into head winds trying to be the first female president. He also stressed that only two Democratic presidents were elected following a two-term Democratic presidency — Martin Van Buren and Harry Truman.
-- Kaine said he understands why the daily protests continue around the country: “I view it as people are afraid, and I think they have reason to be afraid,” he said, promising to battle the “normalization” of bigotry that he sees in the appointment of Steve Bannon. “Look, civil disobedience has an important role in the history of this country,” Kaine added. “I’m not encouraging folks, and I’m not discouraging them.”
-- How he's coping: He and Anne Holton spent last weekend in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they “kvetched” a bit. Today he's flying with John McCain and other lawmakers to a national security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That awesome William Faulkner quote he recited in his concession — “They kilt us, but they ain’t whupped us yit,” — was one he said he leaned on when he lost cases during his 17 years as a civil rights lawyer.
Donald endorses Mitt at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas in Feb. 2012. (Steve Marcus/Reuters)
READING THE TEA LEAVES FROM TRUMP TOWER:
-- Trump is planning to meet this weekend with Mitt Romney to discuss his transition operation and a potential role as secretary of state, David Nakamura, Jerry Markon and Karen DeYoung report. Trump’s stunning outreach to one of his most outspoken critics in the presidential race could help bridge the divide between Trump’s advisers and the GOP establishment, and it sends a signal to foreign capitals that the president-elect is at least interested in a more conventional figure to serve as his top diplomat.
-- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, also a contender for the role, met with Trump in New York yesterday. Calling Haley “unbelievably talented,” transition spokesman Sean Spicer suggested the team would be willing to overlook her outspoken criticism of Trump in the Republican primaries. “Donald Trump right now isn’t looking to figure out who supported him and who didn’t,” Spicer said in a CNN interview. “As long as they are committed to bringing change to Washington and making this country better, then they can be part of this team.”
-- “Picking Romney [or Haley] would show something that was sorely lacking in Trump the candidate: magnanimity,” Chris Cillizza writes. “A willingness to pick the person he thinks is best for the job, not just someone who was unfailingly loyal to him during the campaign. Someone who might challenge his assumptions or opinions from time to time. An equal, not a lackey. Again, this would, largely, run counter to how Trump ran his presidential campaign. But that would also make picking Romney all the more powerful a symbol."
-- Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, whose name has been floated for Defense or State, said he is “not necessarily opposed” to serving in a Trump administration, Dan Lamothe reports. A U.S. military official who speaks with him often said he is taking a “wait and see” approach as the situation develops.
-- Ted Cruz told confidants he was interested in taking the AG gig before the Sessions news broke, according to The Hill’s Jonathan Swan: The Texas senator met with Trump and Pence in Manhattan on Tuesday. Cruz also wandered into the office of Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon for an impromptu meeting.
-- Newt Gingrich is out. The former House speaker said he won’t hold a cabinet position under Trump. Newt told Lisa Rein and Elise Viebeck he wants to “be free to network across the whole system and look at what we have to do to succeed,” and he said holding a Cabinet post would have been “not physically doable."
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), left, and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), right, display their "Make America Great Again" hats after attending a House Republican leadership meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Cliff Owen/AP)
-- WaPo transportation reporter Ashley Halsey III speculates on who Trump could tap as transportation secretary: “Former Reason Foundation analyst Shirley Ybarra is the Trump transition team member tasked with finding the new Sec/Trans, and there’s talk that she may be a candidate for the job herself. James S. Simpson, who ran New Jersey’s Department of Transportation under Chris Christie and calls himself a ‘transportation nut,’ may get a look-see, but after Christie was banished from Trump’s inner-circle, Simpson may fall from favor. Mark Rosenker, a retired Air Force major general who chaired the National Transportation Safety Board eight years ago, also is mentioned in the mill. And John L. Mica … has been using the Florida media as a bullhorn to promote his candidacy for the top USDOT job.” As one source quipped to Ashley, “Who knows if Trump is even aware that he has a secretary of transportation?”
Mike Pence leaves Trump Tower last night. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
-- The scene at Trump Tower --> “The president-elect’s visitor log: A skateboarder, a boxer and ‘Judge Jeanine,’” by Jenna Johnson: “On his eighth day as the president-elect, he met with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, flashed a thumbs-up in a photo with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and got some foreign policy advice from pro skateboarder Billy Rohan, who says the United States could bring about peace by building skate parks around the world. The president-elect — who has long been entranced by celebrities and cleared his schedule to meet them — campaigned on the promise to do things differently than presidents before him. [But] the presence of so many nontraditional visitors and advisers raises a question: Is this really the best use of the president-elect’s time, especially when his transition team has just undergone a leadership purge and is only now reaching out to many major federal agencies? 'If it’s a bunch of people coming by to give him flowers and take a photo, that’s just going to make him feel invincible,' said NYU’s Paul Light, who has studied presidential transitions. 'What he needs is a dose of reality right now.'"
-- Trump also met yesterday with Oracle CEO Safra Catz, a prominent tech industry leader who recently earned the distinction of being the country's highest-paid female executive, with a salary of $57 million. (Hayley Tsukayama)
-- From the reporters staking out the lobby of Trump Tower, here are some other notable visitors yesterday: FedEx CEO Fred Smith, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, retired Gen. Jack Keane, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, Henry Kissinger and Admiral Mike Rogers.
| Trump's Transition: Who is Jared Kushner?
-- Jared Kushner is continuing to game out a potential White House job. The New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman report that Trump's son-in-law has spoken to a lawyer about the possibility of joining the Trump administration, a move that could violate federal anti-nepotism laws and risk legal challenges and political backlash. Trump is reportedly urging his son-in-law to join him in the White House, a sentiment that is shared by both Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus. “But the prospect that Mr. Kushner might end up in the West Wing remained a concern to some people close to the president-elect, who said he would instantly become a target for media and legal attacks if he took the unorthodox step … Mr. Kushner has consulted with at least one lawyer and believes that by forgoing a salary and putting his investment fund, his real estate holdings and The New York Observer into a blind trust, he would not be bound by federal nepotism rules."
-- Both Ivanka and Kushner sat in with Donald during his 90-minute meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday. Abe gave Trump golf clubs. Trump gave him golf shirts. It's another reminder of the inherent conflicts of interest in having his kids run his businesses.
-- This is what happens when you don’t have the State Department helping you: Golfer Greg Norman set up the call between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Trump. In a statement, Norman said he has “great respect for both men” and was “happy to put them in touch.” (CNN)
-- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she will serve out the rest of her term, defending Dodd-Frank banking regulation and pledging to serve until January 2018. “We wouldn’t want to see the clock turned back on financial regulation,” she told lawmakers. Trump has been harshly critical of Yellen, who he accused of “playing politics” with interest rates. (CBS News)
-- The transition teams for agencies finally began making their first contact with the Obama administration. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Foggy Bottom is finally in contact with Trump’s transition team as of last night. “We look forward to supporting their work and preparations, in keeping with the President’s priority of ensuring a smooth transition,” he said. Pentagon officials expect the first visit from a Trump transition team at the Pentagon today, Kristina Peterson reports in the Journal.
Alex Jones from Infowars.com speaks in support of Trump outside the Republican National Convention this July. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
A POST-FACT PRESIDENCY?
-- Must-read profile of InfoWars founder Alex Jones, by Manuel Roig-Franzia: “Jones is a thickly constructed 42-year-old with bright piercing eyes and a retreating hairline. His Facebook bio describes him as ‘ruggedly handsome.’ His rhetorical style resembles an avalanche — of words. … Some days he appears to be sobbing, holding his face in his hands. Then he’s making deep, guttural growling noises. Then he’s howling. During one show he went off on Hillary Clinton, calling her ‘a witch.’ She is ‘evil,’ he said, ‘a whore of Babylon drunk on the blood of the saints.’ ... The United Nations, he claims, intends to release plagues that will kill off 80 percent of the people in the world. The remaining population, he says, will be herded into crowded cities where they will be enslaved by the elite, turning the Earth into a ‘prison planet.’ It goes on. And on. And on.” And last December, Trump carved out a half an hour for a live video interview with Jones, pushing him from the realm of “niche showman” into the mainstream national dialogue. ... Jones says Trump called him on Monday to promise he would return to the program to thank the Infowars audience, an extraordinary gesture for an incoming president whose schedule is packed with calls from world leaders and the enormous task of overseeing the transition. The president-elect’s team hasn’t confirmed that the conversation took place."
-- New York Times, “Fake News on Facebook? In Foreign Elections, That’s Not New,” by Paul Mozur and Mark Scott: “Facebook rumors force a well-known politician to publish proof of his heritage. Fake images show a prominent female leader in a hangman’s noose. Another day on social media for [Obama, Clinton and Trump]? Think again. Those incidents took place in Indonesia and the Philippines, where social media’s outsize place in politics is widely acknowledged. … Well before last week’s American election threw Facebook’s status as a digital-era news source into the spotlight, leaders, advocacy groups and minorities worldwide have contended with an onslaught of online misinformation and abuse that has had real-world political repercussions. Some governments are pushing back, sometimes with undemocratic consequences. Indonesia’s government has closed sites that it says promote fake news, though experts say some portals were also targeted for political reasons. Some African countries have banned the use of Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter before elections. Now [the sites] have begun to take steps to curb the trend, but some outside the United States say the move is too late."
Angela Merkel speaks during a joint news conference with President Obama in Berlin. (Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)
-- LONG READ OF THE DAY --> The New Yorker, “Obama Reckons With a Trump Presidency,” by David Remnick: “The official line at the White House was that the hour-and-a-half meeting with Trump went well and that Trump was solicitous. Later, when I asked Obama how things had really gone, he smiled thinly and said, ‘I think I can’t characterize it without …’ Then he stopped himself and said that he would tell me, ‘at some point over a beer—off the record.’ Those closest to Obama at the White House say that he copes by quietly, sarcastically deflating the attacks—like letting the air out of a balloon slowly, one said, the better not to make too much noise. He never loses his capacity to be the scholar of his own predicament, a gently quizzical ethnographer of his own country, of its best and worst qualities. In private, Michelle Obama gives clearer voice to the frustrations, and, not least, to a concern about the racism that is apparent to them both. There is no denying the depths of Obama’s humbling. He fully grasps the nature of the bigotry and the nihilism that Trump has espoused in the name of working-class empowerment…“
"Obama’s way is to keep cool while insisting on, and embodying, a faith in institutions," Remnick explains. "‘This is not the apocalypse,’ Obama said. History does not move in straight lines; sometimes it goes sideways, sometimes it goes backward. A couple of days later, when I asked the President about that consolation, he offered this: ‘I don’t believe in apocalyptic—until the apocalypse comes. I think nothing is the end of the world until the end of the world.’” (Read the full piece.)
-- Obama wrapped up his final official visit to Europe, departing with a plaintive warning to Western democracies at a time of rising populism. From Anthony Faiola and David Nakamura: Do not, he said, “take for granted our system of government and our way of life.” Though he struck an upbeat tone at times, saying he remains “optimistic” about Trump’s presidency, he also drew a stark picture of a world without even-handed U.S. leadership — a world in which a divided United States would lose its way and disengage. The United States is “the voice that insists on rules and norms governing international affairs, the voice that helps to steer the world away from war wherever possible; that’s our voice more often than not,” Obama said. “And we’re not always successful, but if that voice is absent or divided, we will live in a meaner, harsher and more troubled world.” Obama’s remarks come after two days of visits with Angela Merkel, a centrist leader whom observers see as heir apparent to his legacy as the leading global advocate of liberal democracy.
Reporters stake out the lobby of the Trump Tower. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
ADDITIONAL MEDIA SCRUTINY FOR POTENTIAL TRUMP CABINET PICKS:
-- Huffington Post, “Trump Eyes Billionaire Who Owned Deadly Coal Mine For Commerce Secretary,” by Alexander C. Kaufman: Trump promised during his campaign to bring back mining jobs to struggling workers in coal country. Now the president-elect is apparently considering for commerce secretary a Manhattan billionaire who owned a West Virginia coal mine where 12 workers died in 2006. Hedge fund titan Wilbur Ross, 78, [reportedly] tops Trump’s list to lead the Department of Commerce … Ross, whose job as commerce secretary would be to promote economic growth and improve living standards across the country, seems an odd choice for a president who campaigned as an economic populist. The New Jersey native’s cutthroat investment strategy of snatching up ailing businesses presents an appealing narrative to investors, particularly those who believe the U.S. has lost its competitive edge in a global economy. But many of those turnaround stories have a human toll attached ...”
Key line: “In 2012, Ross, clad in purple velvet slippers, took the stage at a black-tie induction ceremony for the secretive Wall Street fraternity Kappa Beta Phi and sang show tunes mocking poor people.”
-- “Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of Redlining Black, Latino Home Buyers,” by Bloomberg's Dakin Campbell: “OneWest Bank, the lender Steven Mnuchin built and then sold last year, broke federal laws by keeping branches out of minority neighborhoods and making few mortgages to black and Latino borrowers, two housing advocacy groups alleged to U.S. regulators. Their redlining complaint doesn’t name the financier, but it may complicate his potential appointment to Treasury secretary ... OneWest made just two mortgages to black borrowers in 2014 and 2015 across a swath of Southern California counties including Los Angeles, where it had 52 branches, according to a statement from the California Reinvestment Coalition. … Despite the region’s diversity, the lender didn’t run a single branch there in a predominantly black neighborhood, the groups said. The complaint asks the Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate whether OneWest … broke laws ensuring equal access to credit for minority home buyers.”
-- “How Rudolph Giuliani, Possible Cabinet Pick, Made Millions as Ex-Mayor,” by the New York Times's Eric Lipton and Russ Buettner: “It was a golden year for [Giuliani], a mad dash that would take him to 11 countries on four continents, and by the time 2006 was done, earn him $16 million — a princely sum compared with the $7,000 he claimed to have in 2001, when he went through a divorce. The blitz of activity by Mr. Giuliani in 2006 — speaking to Wall Street banks; oil, gold mining and pharmaceutical companies; and investor groups in Japan and Singapore — is public because the next year, he began a campaign for president and had to file a financial disclosure form. But that public ledger offers the most detailed look at just how Mr. Giuliani managed to become so wealthy after he left office, with assets worth tens of millions of dollars, including homes he now owns in Palm Beach, Fla., the Hamptons and New York City. [And] they offer a road map of sorts to the kinds of potential conflict of interest questions that are already emerging as Mr. Giuliani’s name is floated as a possible Trump cabinet member."
-- John Bolton, a top candidate to serve as secretary of state, is publicly calling for the U.S. to help overthrow the existing government in Iran. From HuffPost’s Jessica Schulberg: “The only long-term solution is regime change in Tehran,” the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily. ‘The ayatollahs are the principal threat to international peace and security in the Middle East.’ The call for regime change is very much in line with past statements from Bolton, a hyper-hawkish Bush administration official who stands by the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. He has repeatedly urged the U.S. to help Israel bomb Iran or do it alone. Even as Iran was in the final stages of negotiating an international agreement that requires it to dramatically scale back its nuclear infrastructure, Bolton recommended a military attack.”
-- Lindsey Graham put out a press release saying he’d support Giuliani or Bolton for SecState in response to Rand Paul saying he’d filibuster them. “You could put the number of Republicans who will follow Rand Paul’s advice on national security in a very small car,” the South Carolina Republican said. “Rand is my friend but he’s a libertarian and an outlier in the party on these issues. The fact that Senator Paul opposes Bolton and Giuliani will not keep them from serving.”
Students attend a protest against President-elect Donald Trump at the National Mall. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
-- “Trump’s embrace of Bannon sparks divisions, angst among Jewish groups,” by Greg Jaffe: “Among the country’s leading Jewish organizations, Trump’s election has provoked an unusual level of angst and uncertainty, widening the rifts among groups that have largely tried to stay out of partisan political fights. The debate has divided those who believe the Jewish community’s support for Israel requires leaders to build good relations with the new president from those who argue that Jewish groups should speak out against views they see as anti-Semitic. 'There are lots of questions and concerns and a lot I would like to say,' said a senior executive of a group focused on the U.S.-Israeli relationship ... 'But I have a mission and a job to do, and I can’t blow it up.' Others have taken a more forward-leaning approach: 'At what point do you set aside the mission?' asked The Israel Policy Forum’s David Halperin. 'The challenge is: How do we balance our desire to wait and be a positive influence [on a Trump administration] versus expressing our concern when it is absolutely necessary?'"
-- “In Twin Falls, Idaho, co-dependency of whites and immigrants faces a test,” by Chico Harlan: “Sunrise was still almost three hours away. Bob Schmidt rubbed his eyes, straightened his camouflage hat and climbed into the driver’s seat of his van. He was about to begin his daily drive through this politically deep-red region, picking up refugees and dropping them off at work. Nearby was the family restaurant where, one night earlier, a team of self-avowed defenders of freedom had reveled in Trump’s victory and talked about being on guard against sharia law. Twin Falls is now a testing ground for whether the bitter cultural divisions intensified by this year’s presidential campaign can recede in favor of the co-dependency that marks many communities with large white and immigrant populations. In this southern Idaho city of 45,000, the question surrounds a growing Muslim population. “There is not going to be any reconciliation,” said Vicky Davis, 65, a local retired computer systems analyst who opposes the refugee program. “I will never, never give in to people that walk around in burqas.”
-- A group of white high school students in Texas held Trump campaign signs and began chanting “build that wall” during a volleyball match against a predominantly Hispanic school. (Peter Holley)
-- A white Baltimore City middle school teacher was fired after she was captured on video calling her students the N-word and telling them “they are going to get shot.” (T. Rees Shapiro)
-- An Arkansas school official prompted outrage after pictures surfaced of him wearing blackface, donning imitation gap teeth, and carrying a sign reading “blak lives matter.” The worst part of all? No one in the district can make him resign! (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
-- American interest in the Ku Klux Klan has spiked its highest rate in more than 12 years, according to Google Trends data. More people have searched for the hate group in November than Kim Kardashian and college football, combined – and rather than searching for the Klan in relation to history and racism, as was common in previous years, it appears the term was referenced largely in relation to Trump. (Christopher Ingraham)
-- The man who smashed Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star has been charged with vandalism. The perp, 52-year-old James Otis, allegedly caused more than $400 in damage after taking to the pavement with a sledgehammer and pickax. (LA Times)
-- Bernie Sanders warned Trump not to try to prosecute Clinton over her State Department email server. “It would be almost beyond comprehension to think that a new president would be involved in the prosecution of his opponent who ended up getting some 2 million more votes than he did,” the senator from Vermont told reporters. “We read about these things, and we see these things in nondemocratic counties all over the world … I would hope very, very, very much that Mr. Trump understands that is not something he should do.” (John Wagner)
-- Sanders got more than 18,000 write-in votes in Vermont. (David Weigel)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump claimed credit on Twitter last night for keeping a Ford plant in Kentucky from moving to Mexico. But, as Jim Tankersley notes, the company never planned to move the entire plant, only one of its production lines.
Obama's former chief strategist David Axelrod defended Trump's pace of appointments:
Our Phil Bump made a chart showing when past presidents have announced their picks:
House Republicans snapped this selfie:
Trump followed his meeting with Abe with this photo:
Trump also met with Rick Scott:
Piers Morgan spoke with Trump:
Politico scribe John Bresnahan brought this incident to Schumer's attention:
Susan Sarandon defended herself against escalating attacks that her support for Jill Stein threw the election to Trump:
Bernie people gathered for a rally at the Capitol yesterday:
The McCains welcomed a new grandson:
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has become increasingly conciliatory to Trump in recent days after spending the campaign as a vocal Never Trumper. He's taken to going after the anti-Trump protestors:
Other Republican senators continue to jump aboard the Trump Train:
The biggest staff screw-up of the day: Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed's press team blasted out a statement about Flynn several hours before he was tapped. Then apologized:
When it comes to the NRCC, the joke's on Pelosi:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Wall Street Journal, “Trump’s Win Bucks Warnings From GOP, Democrats to Improve Hispanic Outreach,” by Laura Meckler and Aaron Zitner: “By drawing nearly three in 10 Hispanic voters, Mr. Trump has shown that the GOP has a durable floor of support from the group, even for a candidate who offended many Latinos. Exit polls found that Hispanic voters who backed Mr. Trump tended to have higher incomes—he won 38% of those with family income above $100,000—and they tended to view terrorism and foreign policy, rather than the economy, as top issues. Mr. Trump also won an outright majority of Hispanics who call themselves conservative. The results also appear to sap some force, at least for now, from the argument that Republicans must support liberalized immigration laws to win a national election. Democrats say the trends still favor them and that over time, the GOP will pay a price with Hispanic voters. 'Don’t bask in your glory and your current victory,' said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez. 'We are a young community … [young Latinos] are going to remember who victimized their parents.'"
-- “National Security Agency Said to Use Manhattan Tower as Listening Post,” by Jim Dwyer: “From a sidewalk in Lower Manhattan, the building at 33 Thomas Street, known as the Long Lines Building, looks like nothing less than a monument to the prize of privacy. With not a window in its walls from the ground up to its height of 550 feet, 33 Thomas looms over Church Street with an architectural blank face. Nothing about it resembles a place of human habitation, and in fact it was built for machines: An AT&T subsidiary commissioned the tower to house long-distance phone lines. Completed in 1974, it was fortified to withstand a nuclear attack on New York, and the architect made plans to include enough food, water and generator fuel to sustain 1,500 people for two weeks during a catastrophic loss of power to the city. Now, an investigative article in The Intercept and an accompanying 10-minute documentary film … say the building appears to have served another purpose: as a listening post code-named Titanpointe by the National Security Agency.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Private Prison Companies Ready to Cash In on Throwing Out Immigrants,” from The Daily Beast: “When the children were released from the privately run immigration detention facility in Karnes City, Texas, they were immediately taken to the emergency room with pneumonia. Over the past few months, several children who fled from violence in South and Central America with their mothers have been hospitalized after leaving the facility run by GEO Group, a private prison company that saw its stocks jump following Election Day. The children’s health problems were the result of poor medical care inside what is essentially a prison for mothers and their children … And with [Trump] now president-elect, the Karnes City facility and a dozen more like it across the country are preparing to fill even more beds with immigrants and refugees. GEO Group and another private prison company … are also preparing for more large, lucrative contracts with the federal government to run the detention centers.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Michael Brown’s Father: [Black Lives Matter] Tried To Profit Off My Son’s Death,” from the Daily Caller: “Some members of the Black Lives Matter movement tried to profit off the death of Michael Brown, according to his father. … While some members of the Black Lives Matter movement had good intentions, Brown Sr. said that he saw some of them try to gain from his son’s death. Brown Sr. also criticized the riots, saying that they took the focus off of the loss he and the community felt after losing Brown.” “And when people start rioting and doing all this other stuff they got off focus of the death of my son and started focusing on the negativity, so that overpowered the loss that we went through as far as parents and in the community,” Brown Sr. said
In Trump's world: Trump has transition meetings in the morning and then goes to his home in Bedminster, N.J., for further transition work.
At the White House: In Berlin, Obama meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Hollande of France, Prime Minister Rajoy of Spain, Prime Minister Renzi of Italy, and Prime Minister May of the United Kingdom. In the afternoon, the President will depart Berlin, Germany for Lajes Air Base, Azores, where Air Force One will refuel en route Lima, Peru. The president will remain overnight in Lima.
On Capitol Hill: Congress is out.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I’ve known him since I was a little girl — so, yes.” – Reality TV star Paris Hilton, explaining why she voted for Trump
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- TGIF – and be sure to soak up this warm and sunny Friday while you can! The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Can we move our desks outside to finish the workweek? Mainly sunny skies and high temperatures in the mid-60s to near 70. Even some low 70s possible? Yes, please! Breezes very slowly increase out of the southwest to around 5 mph during the afternoon.”
-- Metro abruptly pulled all 82 of its 4000-series rail cars from service yesterday after discovering a glitch that poses a collision risk. Manager Paul Wiedefeld ordered the cars be taken out of service “immediately” after being warned of the problem, which could leave trains traveling faster than they’re supposed to. (Faiz Siddiqui and Martine Powers)
-- A former third-grade teacher in Montgomery County who is facing several charges of inappropriately touching students has been charged with additional sexual-offense counts. The ex-teacher, who had worked at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring, turned himself in to county police and was ordered held without bond. (Dan Morse and Donna St. George)
-- The Wizards beat the Knicks 119-112.
-- MGM National Harbor said it is wrapping up its first wave of hires, bringing onboard some 3,800 new employees as it readies for its grand opening next month. Officials hope the $1.4 billion project will be a boon to the local economy and workforce. (Luz Lazo)
-- “After Clinton’s loss, two female lawmakers in Md. consider statewide run,” by Ovetta Wiggins: “Two female Democratic lawmakers in Maryland, disappointed in Hillary Clinton’s presidential loss and the sudden absence of women in the state’s congressional delegation, said Thursday that they are considering statewide runs for office in 2018. Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (Baltimore City), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said she could be a candidate for governor or comptroller, while Del. Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk (Prince George’s) said she was looking at those offices as well and would also consider running for lieutenant governor on a Democratic ticket.” “Nothing is off the table,” said Peña-Melnyk, who spent the fall working for Clinton in Iowa. “I have spent a good part of this fall thinking about what are my next steps,” McIntosh said. “I do think last week’s election made me dig deep and ask myself whether I should listen to several people who have encouraged me to think about statewide office.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Kanye West went on a political tirade last night during his show in San Jose. He revealed that he didn't vote - but if he had, he would have voted for Trump. West also mentioned running for president in 2020:
| Kanye West goes on political tirade at San Jose show
During an interview with Charlie Rose, Jon Stewart said Trump represents a repudiation of the Republican Party but he also called out intolerant liberals for hypocrisy:
| Jon Stewart on President-elect Trump, hypocrisy in America
Obama spoke about his experience in Greece:
| President Obama in Athens, Greece
Elizabeth Warren spoke about Trump on the Senate floor:
| Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Donald Trump (C-SPAN)
Keith Ellison said he is going to prioritize reforming the superdelegate system if he gets elected DNC chair. The Minnesota congressman also said he wants to change the way the DNC is funded, with less attention to large-dollar donors. Watch Vice’s Evan McMorris Santoro interviewed him at Pete's Diner:
| The Keith Ellison Interview: VICE News Tonight on HBO (Full Segment)
Watch a heated exchange between a Russia Today correspondent (Putin's propaganda service) and the State Department spokesman:
| Watch a heated exchange betweeen a Russia Today reporter and State Department
Listen to a radio station helping Iraqis trapped in Mosul:
| Listen to a radio station helping Iraqis trapped in Mosul