Taegan Goddard

Perry Faces Steep Learning Curve

“When President-elect Donald Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state,” the New York Times reports.

“In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal.”

Perdue Is Trump’s Pick for Agriculture

President-elect Donald Trump picked former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) to be his agriculture secretary, “tapping a veterinarian-turned-politician who was the state’s first Republican governor in more than a century to lead the sprawling department,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“The choice was mired in political wrangling, with some factions pushing Trump to opt for someone from the Midwest or to diversify his Cabinet by naming a Hispanic official.”

Inside a Fake News Business

The New York Times profiles how Cameron Harris started writing fake news and earned about $1,000 an hour in web advertising revenue during the presidential election:

Mr. Harris started by crafting the headline: “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.” It made sense, he figured, to locate this shocking discovery in the very city and state where Mr. Trump had highlighted his “rigged” meme.

“I had a theory when I sat down to write it,” recalled Mr. Harris, a 23-year-old former college quarterback and fraternity leader. “Given the severe distrust of the media among Trump supporters, anything that parroted Trump’s talking points people would click. Trump was saying ‘rigged election, rigged election.’ People were predisposed to believe Hillary Clinton could not win except by cheating.”

Christie Says Wife Refused to Move to Washington, DC

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) says he turned down several jobs in the Trump administration because his wife refused to move to Washington, the AP reports.

Said Christie: “He didn’t offer me a job that I thought was exciting enough for me to leave the governorship and my family. Because Mary Pat made really clear she wasn’t coming to D.C.”

Earlier this week, Trump told the Wall Street Journal, “at some point, we’re going to do something with Chris.”

Did Trump Write His Speech at a Receptionist’s Desk?

Donald Trump tweeted a photo of himself in which he says he was writing his inaugural address.

New York Magazine: “As tends to be the case with the president-elect’s social-media statements, there is much to discuss. First, there’s the fact that Trump seems to be drafting his first speech as POTUS with a … Sharpie. And second, perhaps more important, there’s the question of Trump’s desk, which… appears to be one usually occupied by an administrative or hospitality professional — a receptionist or concierge, maybe — in a public hall at Mar-a-Lago, and not in a private office.”

“So we’re not saying that Trump didn’t write his speech, in Sharpie, on a legal pad, at this desk, with its magnificent and inspirational eagle statue. Obviously he did; why would the president-elect stage such a photograph?”

FBI Probes Possible Covert Kremlin Aid to Trump

“The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump,” McClatchy reports.

“Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win… One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.”

Price Admits to Trading on Inside Information

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, admitted that he decided to buy stock in an Australian biotech firm after receiving information from Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a board member of that company, the Huffington Post reports.

“Ethics experts stated that Price could be in violation of the STOCK Act, a bipartisan 2012 law that bans insider trading by members of Congress.”

Trump Budget Nominee Did Not Pay Taxes for Employee

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for White House budget director “failed to pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes for a household employee, he admitted in a statement to the Senate Budget Committee, the sort of tax compliance issue that has derailed cabinet nominees in the past,” the New York Times reports.

In a questionnaire provided to the committee, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), a conservative and vocal proponent of fiscal restraint noted, “I have come to learn during the confirmation review process that I failed to pay FICA and federal and state unemployment taxes on a household employee for the years 2000-2004.”

Is Trump Ready for a National Security Crisis?

Politico: “Sources close to the transition describe Trump’s national security staffing as a ‘black box,’ leaving everyone from Obama administration officials to Trump job seekers and foreign diplomats guessing at who will land crucial positions shaping policy and managing crises. Much of the speculation focuses on the NSC, which plays the vital role of coordinating foreign policy and national security within the White House. The NSC staffing process is being controlled closely by Trump’s national security adviser-designate, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who, unlike his past several predecessors, has no NSC experience.”