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Today we were reminded that “the emolument clause,” aside from sounding like the title to history’s worst John Grisham thriller, is going to be a major issue during the Trump administration. Rex Tillerson gave the country the most lethargic debut by a high-profile southerner since the start of Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign. And after several days of confirmations, we’re starting to wonder if there’s anyone left in the country who hasn’t signed a letter in support of, or opposition to, a Cabinet nominee. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 11th, 2017:
TRUMP DOESN’T DIVEST - We’re all screwed. Paul Blumenthal: “’My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company,’ Trump said at a press conference in New York. ‘They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They’re not going to discuss it with me.’ … Sheri Dillon, a financial adviser at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said at the event that Trump’s sons would have no iness-related contact with their father while he serves as president, and the company will appoint an ethics adviser to oversee any possible conflicts…. The decision to put his two adult sons in charge of his company while the president-elect maintains a financial stake in the business will do little to alleviate concerns about the conflicts of interest he will face in office…. Trump’s announcement falls far short of that standard. He will maintain a financial stake in his business, meaning that he will be subject to certain laws and constitutional provisions targeting financial conflicts of interest of the president of the United States.” [HuffPost]
No dice was the reaction from Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub. “The plan the president-elect has announced doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the last four decades have met,” he said Wednesday. [The Hill’s Jordan Fabian]
ABOUT THAT PEE NEWS - For the record, urine is not sterile. Michael Calderone: “President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly called out the publication of unverified allegations that he has ties to Russia as ‘fake news’ during Wednesday’s press conference, his first in nearly six months. Trump thanked news organizations that didn’t publish the allegations, which were raised in a dossier commissioned by his opponents and which haven’t been corroborated. But he took aim at BuzzFeed, called it a ‘failing pile of garbage,’ and refused to call on reporter Jim Acosta from CNN, which he labeled ‘fake news.’” [HuffPost]
Then there was this sad (!) moment: “President-elect Donald Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a press conference Wednesday, calling the network ‘fake news.’ Acosta repeatedly tried to get Trump’s attention during the president-elect’s first press conference in six months. ‘You are fake news!’ Trump yelled at the reporter while refusing to answer his questions.” [HuffPost’s Paige Lavender]
The hottest, most beautiful, absolute classiest of mics: Afterwards, C-SPAN’s mic caught incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer telling Acosta he was “out of line,” with Acosta replying, “Sean, he was attacking our news organization.” Here’s to a beautiful four years!
OH, THIS OL’ FOREIGN MEDDLING IN OUR ELECTIONS? - Has anyone asked the president-elect just what exactly he thinks of the Miracle on Ice? Sam Levine: “President-elect Donald Trump said he believes Russia is behind the hacking of the 2016 election, but continued to downplay the country’s culpability during a news conference on Wednesday. ‘As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people,’ Trump said. He also embraced the idea that Russia would want to help him. ‘If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset and not a liability,’ he said. Intelligence officials briefed Trump last week on their findings that Russia had interfered in the election with the intention of boosting his chances. Trump has defended the country against the findings, instead framing the controversy as something only Democrats were interested in discussing. The president-elect also suggested that the Democratic National Committee deserved to get hacked and that the information that came to light through the hacking may have justified the act.” [HuffPost]
PRO TIP: MEXICO ISN’T GOING TO PAY FOR THE WALL - But congrats to Bechtel and all the other contractors who will get to build it! Elise Foley: “President-elect Donald Trump insisted on Wednesday that he will quickly begin building a wall ― not just a fence ― on the southern U.S. border, and that Mexico will pay for it. Eventually, at least. In his first press conference since the election, Trump acknowledged that the U.S. government will actually foot the bill. But he claimed that Mexico will pay the U.S. back, and predicted he would “probably” negotiate a deal with Mexico within a year and a half. ‘We’re going to build a wall,’ Trump said. ‘I could wait about a year and a half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which will start immediately after we get to office, but I don’t want to wait.’” [HuffPost]
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TILLERSON SCORES POOR MARKS ON RUSSIA DURING CONFIRMATION HEARING - Jessica Schulberg: “Asked whether he would advise President-elect Donald Trump to enforce sanctions against Moscow for its alleged role in cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the U.S. election, the secretary of state nominee demurred. Confronted with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Syria, and against domestic political enemies, Tillerson said he would need more information before agreeing with Rubio’s description of the Russian leader as a ‘war criminal.’ Tillerson’s ties to Russia, which he developed during his time as an oilman, have been a key point of contention for lawmakers since Trump chose him to serve as the next secretary of state. In an opening statement during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Tillerson attempted to allay those concerns, telling members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia ‘poses a danger’ ― but suggested this danger was due to the ‘absence of American leadership’ under the Barack Obama administration.” [HuffPost]
@rebeccaberg: Tillerson just broke with Trump on NATO — said he thinks Article 5 is binding and he would not advise breaking it if allies don’t pay dues
TILLERSON WON’T ADMIT TO EXXON CLIMATE DENIAL - Alexander Kaufman: “Tillerson, who worked at the oil giant for 41 years and served as its chief executive for a decade, said he couldn’t speak for a company he no longer works for. ‘Since I’m no longer with ExxonMobil, I can’t speak on their behalf,’ Tillerson said. “The question would have to be put to ExxonMobil.’ For years, ExxonMobil funded a Big Tobacco-style disinformation campaign aimed at undermining public understanding of the science behind global warming. Documents published in 2015 by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that the company understood climate change decades ago and deliberately covered up the evidence to protect its financial interests. The reports spurred a coalition of state attorneys general to begin investigating corporations that mislead the public about climate change, including Exxon Mobil. Tillerson pledged in 2007 ― one year after he took the top job ― to halt donations to some of the most radical groups producing misleading research on climate change. But the company continued to spend millions on groups that seed doubt over whether burning fossil fuels worsen climate change.” [HuffPost]
At least there’s this: “Asked during his Senate confirmation hearing whether the U.S. should maintain its commitments in the accord, the former ExxonMobil Corp. chief executive said the 180-country deal allows the country to influence the necessary ‘global response’ to climate change. ‘It’s important that the United States maintain its seat at the table with the conversations around how to deal with the threats of climate change,’ he said.” [HuffPost’s Alexander Kaufman]
TRUMP DOES THING OTHER THAN LIE AT NEWS CONFERENCE- Aces. Daniel Marans: “President-elect Donald Trump is nominating David Shulkin, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ undersecretary of health, to lead the federal agency. Trump announced Shulkin’s selection at a Wednesday press conference. ‘I’ll tell you about David, he’s fantastic,’ Trump said. ‘He will do a truly great job.’ Picking Shulkin, who as the VA’s undersecretary of health, runs the department’s network of 1,700 hospitals and other medical facilities, amounts to a vote of confidence in the current VA leadership’s efforts to improve the health care it provides. But Trump added that the incoming administration is going to solicit help for Shulkin, who is also a physician, from ‘some of the great hospitals of the world,’ including the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic.” [HuffPost]
MEANWHILE, IN TODAY’S OTHER, OTHER NEWS - We were in the room during the beginning of Elaine Chao’s confirmation hearing. Mitch McConnell recalled Bob Dole’s great line during his introduction of his wife, Elizabeth Dole, to lead Transportation, that his biggest regret was “that I have but one life to lose for my country.” #mitchjokes. Igor Bobic: “President-elect Donald Trump supports using direct federal spending to fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure system, according to his pick for transportation secretary. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked Elaine Chao during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday whether she and Trump supported a plan to fix America’s roads and bridges that included ‘direct federal spending.’ ‘I believe the answer is yes,’ Chao said. Trump has said he intends to invest $1 trillion to fix the nation’s infrastructure ― a tall order considering the deficit-averse conservatives in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Chao’s husband, has continually blocked additional infrastructure funding proposed by the Obama administration.” [HuffPost]
BLACK LAWMAKERS REALLY DISLIKE JEFF SESSIONS - It’s probably not just because his name is “Jefferson.” Laura Barron-Lopez: “In a history-making testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said Wednesday that the American people ‘cannot count’ on fellow senator Jeff Sessions to bring justice to the justice system if confirmed as attorney general. Booker sat alongside civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) as he delivered his remarks. All three lawmakers were scheduled to go at the end of Sessions’ confirmation hearing. All three eviscerated Sessions’ record, one by one…. ‘It doesn’t matter how Sen. Sessions may smile,’ [Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)] said. ‘How friendly he may be, how he may speak to you, but we need someone who is gonna stand up, speak up and speak out for the people that need help.’” [HuffPost]
And Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said making African American members of Congress testify at the end of the two-day hearing was tantamount to “being made to go to the back of the bus.”
SECDEF PICK HITS WALL IN THE HOUSE - The minority party in the lower chamber gets so few moments to stand out. Jeremy Herb and Connor O’Brien: “House Democrats are threatening to revolt over the waiver needed for James Mattis to serve as defense secretary after the Trump transition team blocked him from testifying before the House Armed Services Committee. As a retired Marine general, Mattis needs a waiver passed by the House and Senate exempting him from law that requires a seven-year waiting period for retired military officers to serve as defense secretary…. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that Democrats would be ‘very wary’ of voting for the waiver without Mattis’ testimony.” [Politico]
ONLY ONE REPUBLICAN VOTES TO DEFEND ENTITLEMENTS - Make Grandma Move Back In, Again. Daniel Marans: “Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote for a defeated amendment on Tuesday that would have prevented the Senate from adopting legislation cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The amendment, which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced as an attachment to a budget resolution laying out rules for repealing Obamacare, failed to clear a 60-vote threshold needed for adoption. Had it passed, Sanders’ amendment would have created a technical hurdle, or ‘point of order,’ blocking legislation to enable the three programs to be cut. Also on Tuesday, Sanders released a list outlining 13 times President-elect Donald Trump ‘promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.’” [HuffPost]
GET READY FOR TRUMPCARE - Or don’t. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway. Jeffrey Young and Jonathan Cohn: “At his first post-election press conference on Wednesday, president-elect Donald Trump said he will release his own plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act shortly after taking office. What he didn’t say is what that plan will be or how it will work…. ‘You’re going to be very, very proud of what we put forth having to do with health care,’ [Trump] added. ‘We’re going to have a health care that is far less expensive and far better.’ These are easy promises to make and very difficult promises to keep.” [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here are pets responding to President Obama’s departure.
YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP - Ronald Reagan would be so distressed by how far that bear in the woods has gotten. Cristian Farias: “Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the corporate law firm that is advising Donald Trump on how to handle his massive business conflicts before and during his time in office, received industry recognition last year for its work in Russia. Chambers & Partners, a London-based publication that ranks law firms and lawyers around the world for business clients, gave the firm the ‘Russian law firm of the year’ award for its work in the country. The firm acknowledged the award in a news release last May. An editor for Chambers & Partners did not respond to a request for comment on the award’s significance. According to the Morgan Lewis website, the firm’s Moscow office has a healthy practice, with more than 40 lawyers helping corporate clients navigate the Russian legal landscape.” [HuffPost]
- Why do Canadians say “eh?”
- Unexpected covers of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.”
- The perfect gift for the prime number enthusiast in your life.
@brianbeutler: “I have tremendous respect for our intelligence agencies, which are like Hitler.” -Trump, basically.
@morninggloria: Pissplay, foreign prostitutes, the KKK, nazis. This news cycle feels like it was written by early aughts Sarah Silverman
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