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HUFFPOST HILL - New Lobbying Firm A Literal Corey Hotline

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Corey Lewandowski is starting a lobbying firm a block from the White House ― the Washington swamp under Trump isn’t just malarial, it’s a place where Yoda would feel at home. Trump supporters are pointing out that if America didn’t have California and New York, the president-elect would’ve won the popular vote ― what’s more, if America didn’t have California and New York, we would have completely avoided the rap wars of the 1990s. And Jared Kushner is looking to unload the Observer; we can only pray for Prince of Petworth, as Kushner tries to leverage another outlet to wield power in his new city of residence. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, December 21st, 2016:

IN A WORLD FILLED WITH BLIND TRUSTS, THE HALF-BLIND TRUST IS KING - Also, half-blind trusts are not a thing. Also not a thing: myopic trusts, cataract trusts, far-sighted trusts. Josh Gerstein: “Donald Trump’s aides are considering a business arrangement that critics say would allow him or his appointees to sidestep conflict-of-interest laws governing the incoming administration and large investments in private-sector business. Aides responsible for setting up ethics firewalls have held discussions with officials at the Office of Government Ethics about establishing what’s known as a ‘discretionary trust,’ according to two sources briefed on the talks…. ‘My impression is OGE is certainly not going to expand the use of discretionary trusts,’ one legal observer said, predicting that a move in that direction would erode the incentives to seek a true blind trust. ‘Nobody can fit within the definitions of “qualified blind trust” for any useful purpose, [so] people are pushing the envelope. ... OGE realizes this, but they don’t want people using [discretionary trusts] to get around the rules. They’re concerned about this.’” [Politico]

WHEW, THANK GOD WE WON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE CLINTON FOUNDATION IN THE WHITE HOUSE - That said, isn’t it high time we had another Lincoln Bedroom scandal? Sam Stein: “In a frantic bit of cleanup on Tuesday, Donald Trump’s transition team downplayed what appeared to be a pay-for-play scheme surrounding the upcoming inauguration. A spokesperson for the president-elect said that, contrary to reports, Trump’s two eldest sons were not offering access to their father during next month’s inauguration weekend in exchange for $1 million donations to conservation charities. The foundation that had cooked up the scheme (which included hunting and fishing expeditions) was just floating an ‘initial’ concept of an idea, the spokesperson said. Beyond that, neither Eric Trump nor Donald Trump Jr. were ‘involved in any capacity,’ nor was the president-elect ‘aware of the event or the details pertaining to it.’” [HuffPost]

Check out this striking piece from HuffPost Highline chronicling how people are profiteering off of the global refugee crisis.

TRUMP’S LABOR SECRETARY PICK IS SUCH A BRO - Someone dimed us to this 2011 earnings call for CKE Restaurants, which is run by Trump’s choice to lead the Labor Department, Andy Puzder:

BRYAN HUNT, ANALYST, WELLS FARGO: Good morning. Hopefully you guys got some java.

ANDY PUZDER: I am drinking a Monster.

BRYAN HUNT: Good for you. Could you talk about same-store sales in terms of traffic and price by concept or traffic and check by concept for the quarter? And then as well as what type of menu price increases you are taking at both of the concepts to offset some of the inflation you are seeing for fiscal ‘12?

ICAHN’T BELIEVE IT - Speaking of business types with interesting social skills, the president-elect named a new advisor today. David Benoit: “Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is expected to be named special adviser to the president on overhauling federal regulations, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Icahn, who has spent the past four decades battling big companies as an activist investor, already has been wielding influence in President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team. He is playing a central role in selecting the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the people said. Interested candidates have reached out to him, and he is interviewing others at the request of Mr. Trump, the people said.” [WSJ]

Here’s Icahn ― really ― doing a standup routine about acquiring Texaco.

TRUMP HIRES GENERAL IN TRADE WAR AGAINST CHINA - Don Lee: “President-elect Donald Trump is establishing a new White House-based trade office that will be headed by a UC Irvine professor known for his fierce criticisms of Chinese trade and economic practices. In appointing Peter Navarro as director of trade and industrial policy and the head of the new National Trade Council inside the White House, Trump is signaling that he wants to follow through on his tough campaign rhetoric in which he blamed the Chinese for the large U.S. trade deficit and manufacturing woes. During the campaign,Trump threatened to slap a 45% tariff on Chinese imports.” [LA Times]

Haircut: Jessica Schulberg (h/t Nick Baumann)

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TRUMP TAKES QUESTIONS, IS TRUMPIAN - “It’s an attack on humanity. And it’s gotta be stopped” is cribbing FDR after Pearl Harbor, right? Katherine Faulders and Alexander Mallin: “President-elect Donald Trump called the deadly truck attack in Berlin an ‘attack on humanity’ that’s ‘gotta be stopped,’ he told reporters at his property in Florida today. Trump also appeared to double down on his proposed ban on Muslim immigration when asked if the attacks changed any of his positions on that specific proposal. ‘Hey, you know my plans,’ Trump told reporters in a brief appearance. ‘All along and it’s ― I’ve been proven to be right, 100 percent correct. What’s happening is disgraceful.’ … A reporter asked Trump about his paper statement in the wake of the Berlin attack on the Christmas market being against Christians. ‘ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad,’ Trump said in the Tuesday statement. Trump responded to reporters it was ‘an attack on humanity, that’s what it is. It’s an attack on humanity. And it’s gotta be stopped.’” [ABC News]

DRAIN THAT SWAMP, BABY - David M. Drucker: “Close confidants of President-elect Trump are establishing a new government relations and political consulting firm in Washington, D.C., the Washington Examiner has learned. Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, who remains closely connected to the president-elect, and Barry Bennett, who advised Trump’s campaign early on after leaving Ben Carson’s 2016 operation, are advertised on the website as the principals behind ‘Avenue Strategies.’ Sources tell the Examiner that Lewandowski and Bennett have been making the rounds in Washington to drum up business for a new firm by that name. Bennett confirmed to the Examiner on Wednesday that the firm is launching this week. He said that he and Lewandowski plan to be ‘supportive of the Trump agenda’ and offer ‘a little bit of everything’ in terms of political consulting and government affairs services. Bennett said he expects to register as a lobbyist but doesn’t know if Lewandowski will.” [Examiner]

Ex-Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) will wait out the appeal of his corruption conviction in prison.

HOGUE DROPS OUT OF DNC RACE - We’re still waiting from a last-minute, white knight candidacy from that guy who lost his cool during one of President Obama’s speeches in 2009.  David Weigel: “Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, announced this morning that she would not be joining the crowded race to lead the Democratic National Committee.... Hogue’s decision leaves the DNC field at five candidates, four of whom are men, and none of whom come from an activist organization. As of Wednesday morning, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez were seen as the most competitive candidates for the job, trading off endorsements and high-profile interviews. They’re joined by New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison and Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown.” [WaPo]

WHAT’S NEXT, WIND FARMS IN THE RIVER OF BLOOD? -  Alexander Kaufman: “In a series of 16 letters sent over two years, Donald Trump repeatedly berated Scotland’s former top minister for greenlighting a wind farm off the coast of the real estate mogul’s golf resort in the country. The letters, obtained by The Huffington Post’s U.K. edition through a Freedom of Information request, show Trump, now U.S. president-elect, alternately coaxing and attacking Alex Salmond, claiming the Scottish National Party leader was ‘hell bent’ on hurting Scotland’s economy and coastline. The letters date from September 2011 to June 2013. Vattenfall, the Swedish company developing the 11-turbine farm, said in July it plans to move ahead with the $349 million project.  ‘You seem hell bent on destroying Scotland’s coastlines and therefore, Scotland itself,’ Trump wrote in a letter dated Feb. 9, 2012. ‘I will never be “on board,” as you have stated I would be, with this insanity.’” [HuffPost]

MITCH MCCONNELL IS VERY GOOD AT HIS JOB - Jennifer Bendery: “His biggest coup was preventing President Barack Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy and reshaping the judiciary for a generation. The plan was hatched literally an hour after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February, with McConnell announcing he would block any Obama replacement ― an unprecedented level of obstruction aimed at a sitting president. He came up with the argument that, because Obama only had one year left in office, the next president had a right to fill the court seat…. ‘All these guys are ruthless, but he just takes it to another level,’ said Jim Manley, a former top aide to McConnell’s foe, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). ‘I defy you to find anything the guy stands for, except for partisanship. He’s ruthless in that he has no core positions.’” [HuffPost]

GREAT CURE FOR ECONOMIC ANXIETY, RIGHT HERE - LOL, John Kasich, such a nice guy who likes to eat spaghetti. Sam Levine: “Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a bill earlier this week blocking local governments from raising the minimum wage above the level set by the state. Legislators pushed the law through earlier this month, as part of a package of measures introduced at the very end of their session. Rep. Denise Driehaus, the ranking Democrat on the state House Finance Committee, where the language was introduced, was stunned by the move. The new law will preempt an effort by Cleveland to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. In contrast, the minimum hourly wage rate set by Ohio is $8.10. (It will increase to $8.15 next year.) Cleveland leaders had lobbied the state to preempt a minimum wage hike in the city, claiming that a higher minimum wage would hurt the local economy. The law also prevents local municipalities from requiring businesses to provide benefits like paid leave to workers.” [HuffPost]

Oh: “If President-elect Donald Trump defunds Planned Parenthood, some of his supporters would be ‘surprised,’ ‘frustrated,’ ‘misdirected,’ ‘disappointed in the democratic system,’ and ‘pissed off as hell,’ according to a series of focus groups commissioned by the family planning provider and conducted by an independent research group.” [HuffPost’s Laura Bassett]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s all the times nature tried to warn us about 2016.

KUSHNER TRYING TO UNLOAD THE OBSERVER -  Another great example of someone “quietly” trying to do a thing, as if Kushner dons slippers and speaks only in a whisper as he tries to sell the paper. Alexandra Steigrad: “Jared Kushner appears to be ready to pick up sticks and move to Washington, D.C., with his wife Ivanka Trump to become an adviser (either officially or unofficially) to his father-in-law, President-elect Donald Trump, and there’s at least one piece of Manhattan he wants to shed before he goes: The New York Observer. According to people familiar with the matter, Kushner has been quietly shopping the storied paper to potential buyers. A potential suitor for the media property had been rumored to be National Enquirer-parent company American Media Inc. AMI declined to comment, however, sources close to the firm expressed skepticism that the company is a potential buyer.” [WWD]

COMFORT FOOD

- Smash Mouth memes have reached new levels of dankness.

TWITTERAMA

@DaveKingThing: ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN 2

FADE IN.

INT. TEEN VOGUE OFFICES ― NIGHT

@pourmecoffee: “Many people are saying I’ve been the nicest boy in the world this year.’ ― Young Donald Trump on Santa’s knee

@toddzwillich: “Worth noting” is the “Red Delicious” of tweets. Presumptuous & self-justifying. Calling yourself delicious won’t trick me into liking you.

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