December, 2016

Trump Builds War Room to Defend Cabinet Picks

Politico: “The transition team has recruited dozens of Republican public relations veterans and policy experts to help sell the public and the Senate on Trump’s selections, according to sources close to the transition. Their task will be to convince Americans that the billionaires, generals, donors and CEOs chosen by the president-elect have the expertise to manage the federal government — even if they have no Washington experience.”

“Every nominee has his or her own team of sherpas, or guides, to teach them about the inner workings of their agency, help prep them for confirmation hearings and guide them through the process of filing a mountain of paperwork… Meanwhile, each nominee has been assigned a ‘media sherpa,’ who has been tasked with managing negative stories about nominees, helping to sort out the logistics of meetings with senators and their staffs, and providing background information to reporters.”

Gingrich Warns of Obama’s Final Weeks

Newt Gingrich said that he expects a “desperate frenzy” from President Obama, “who in the last few days has banned oil drilling in vast tracts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, dismantled a dormant national registry for visitors from countries with active terror groups and issued the most pardons in a single day in U.S. history,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Said Gingrich: “His legacy is like one of those dolls that, as the air comes out of it, shrinks and shrink and shrinks.”

He added that the “things he’s done this week will be turned around” by Donald Trump within hours of him taking office.

Trump Doing Some Things He Said Clinton Did

“Donald Trump spent the past two years attacking rival Hillary Clinton as crooked, corrupt, and weak. But some of those attacks seem to have already slipped into the history books,” the AP reports.

“From installing Wall Street executives in his Cabinet to avoiding news conferences, the president-elect is adopting some of the same behavior for which he criticized Clinton during their fiery presidential campaign.”

GOP Plans Tax Code Overhaul

“Congressional Republicans are planning a massive overhaul of the nation’s tax system, a heavy political lift that could ultimately affect families at every income level and businesses of every size,” the AP reports.

“Their goal is to simplify a complicated tax code that rewards wealthy people with smart accountants, and corporations that can easily shift profits — and jobs — overseas. It won’t be easy. The last time it was done was 30 years ago.”

Quote of the Day

“Merry Christmas to all! Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King.”

— RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, in a statement.

Miller Backs Out of White House Job

“Jason Miller, who was tapped only two days ago to be White House communications director, announced Saturday that he will not join Donald Trump’s administration. In a statement to Politico, Miller said the decision to back out of the job stemmed from a need to spend more time with his family. He noted that he and his wife are expecting their second child next month.”

Trump Will Shut Down Charitable Foundation

“President-elect Donald Trump said he plans to shut down his charitable foundation, a decision that comes after repeated controversies over how it collected and disbursed funds,” the Washington Post reports.

“In a statement Saturday, Trump offered no timeline for when his foundation would close down, but said he had directed his attorney to take the steps needed to close the charity. It was also not immediately clear when the foundation would be able to dissolve, given an ongoing investigation in New York.”

Sowing Confusion Through Tweets

“Donald Trump’s sudden embrace this week of a nuclear arms race — and his staff’s scramble to minimize the fallout — underscored an emerging modus operandi for the president-elect: governance by chaos,” the Washington Post reports.

“Since winning the election, Trump has seemed to revel in tossing firecrackers in all directions, often using Twitter to offer brief but provocative pronouncements on foreign and domestic policies alike — and leaving it to others to flesh out his true intentions.”

The Turf War That Has Come to Define the Transition

President-elect Donald Trump and President Obama “have been unfailingly polite toward each other since the election. But with Mr. Trump staking out starkly different positions from Mr. Obama on Israel and other sensitive issues, and the president acting aggressively to protect his legacy, the two have become leaders of what amounts to dueling administrations,” the New York Times reports.

“The split widened on Friday when the Obama administration abstained from a United Nations Security Council vote that condemned Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and allowed the resolution to pass. A day earlier, Mr. Trump had publicly demanded that Mr. Obama veto the measure, even intervening with Egypt at the request of Israel to pressure the administration to shelve the effort.”

Trump Signals Cease Fire with GOP Leaders

Washington Post: “Trump has, by all accounts, patched up his once-turbulent relationship with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). To fill top jobs in his administration, Trump has chosen five sitting lawmakers, as well as the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). And he has passed up opportunities to meddle in congressional business in ways that might have pleased his populist base but frustrated Republican leaders.”

“The detente in Trump’s war on GOP leaders reflects the unifying power of victory, the moderating influence of Vice President-elect Mike Pence and incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and, most of all, a shared desire to make good on years of Republican campaign promises.”

It Wasn’t Just Turnout

Nate Cohn: “Mr. Trump’s gains among white working-class voters weren’t simply caused by Democrats staying home on Election Day.”

“The Clinton team knew what was wrong from the start, according to a Clinton campaign staffer and other Democrats. Its models, based on survey data, indicated that they were underperforming Mr. Obama in less-educated white areas by a wide margin — perhaps 10 points or more — as early as the summer.”

“The campaign looked back to respondents who were contacted in 2012, and found a large number of white working-class voters who had backed Mr. Obama were now supporting Mr. Trump. The same story was obvious in public polls of registered voters. Those polls aren’t affected by changes in turnout.”

“The best data on the effect of turnout will ultimately come from voter file data, which will include an individual-level account of who voted and who didn’t. Most of this data is only beginning to become available. But the limited data that’s already available is consistent with the story evident in the pre-election polling: Turnout wasn’t the major factor driving shifts among white voters.”

Exchange of the Day

Failed New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino spoke to Artvoice, an alternative weekly in Buffalo:

ARTVOICE: What would you most like to happen in 2017?

PALADINO: Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.

ARTVOICE: What would you most like to see go in 2017?

PALADINO: Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.

Paladino verified to The Buffalo News that he did make the comments.