Jonathan Chait: “Donald Trump’s presidential campaign bludgeoned modern norms about the acceptability of racism. The candidate proposed a religious test for immigrants, and called a federal judge unfit on the grounds of his heritage. Trump could have decided to put the racial demagoguery of the campaign behind him, and it could have been remembered as a divisive ploy to win that did not define his administration, like George Bush’s manipulation of white racial panic to defeat Michael Dukakis in 1988. But Trump, perhaps predictably, is making a different choice. His early staffing choices are redefining the boundaries of acceptable racial discourse in Republican politics.”
James Hohmann: “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.”
“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.”
First Read: “Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions — none of these are surprises. They were either top figures on the campaign or key surrogates. A surprise would be Mitt Romney, who will be visiting with Trump over the weekend and who reportedly is being considered for secretary of state. If he’s offered State, can a patriotic citizen really say no? But if Romney says yes, he then owns Trump, and his confirmation hearing (frankly any State confirmation hearing) is going to get bogged down with questions about Flynn. So joining a Trump admin comes with a little something extra.”
“But can Romney say no? Does he risk looking small, looking like he won’t put country above politics? And many a Trump skeptic might rationalize that it’s better to keep an eye on his team from the inside than worrying and catcalling from the outside. Bottom line: Who knows if this Romney to State idea is real or just a ruse. But if he’s offered, it’s a complicated decision, made more complicated due to Flynn’s appointment.”
Rick Klein: “Trump is talking to Mitt Romney about becoming Secretary of State seems like a blatant attempt to use Romney now – in the transition period – and not use him later. Trump’s disdain for Romney is matched by Romney’s for Trump; these are not rivals, they are political enemies whose worldviews on matter foreign and domestic are starkly and often completely different.”
A Wall Street Journal editorial calls on President-elect Donald Trump to liquidate his stake in his company.
The political damage to a new Administration could be extensive. If Mr. Trump doesn’t liquidate, he will be accused of a pecuniary motive any time he takes a policy position. For example, the House and Senate are eager to consider tax reform—and one sticking point will be the treatment of real estate, which will be of great interest to the Trump family business. Ditto for repealing the Dodd-Frank financial law, interest rates and so much more.
Mixing money and politics could undermine his pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington. If a backlash allows Democrats to retake the House in 2018, Mr. Trump and his business colleagues would field subpoenas from the House Oversight Committee. Ranking minority member Elijah Cummings this week expressed his enthusiasm for such a project, and answering daily questions about this can’t be how Mr. Trump wants to spend his political capital.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has been selected as the next CIA Director by President-elect Donald Trump, Reuters reports.
President-elect Donald Trump has settled on Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for attorney general, Bloomberg reports.
“It wasn’t immediately clear if Trump has formally offered the job to Sessions… A Trump aide on Thursday night called Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a one-time Trump rival who was under serious consideration for the role, to tell him the job was instead going to Sessions.”
New York Times: “While Mr. Sessions is well liked in the Senate, his record as United States attorney in Alabama in the 1980s is very likely to become an issue for Democrats and civil rights groups expected to give it close scrutiny.”
President-elect Donald Trump and General Michael Flynn “both see themselves as brash outsiders who hustled their way to the big time. They both post on Twitter often about their own successes, and they have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia,” the New York Times reports.
“They also both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not). His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them ‘Flynn facts.'”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has told confidants he’s interested in serving as attorney general in the Trump administration, The Hill reports.
“Cruz may not be the frontrunner for the job, which is a target for others in Trump’s orbit — including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), an early supporter of the businessman. Cruz, in contrast, memorably fought with Trump while finishing second in the GOP primary.”
A senior official tells the Associated Press that President-elect Donald Trump has offered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn job as national security adviser.
New York Times: “Given Mr. Trump’s lack of experience on national security matters, General Flynn could serve a role of even greater importance than his predecessors. At the same time, his appointment is a signal that the Trump administration is unlikely to be dominated by members of the Republican national security elite that shaped the policies of President George W. Bush, almost all of whom made clear that they believed Mr. Trump was unfit to lead the country.”
“K Street quickly cast doubt on the effectiveness of Donald Trump’s five-year lobbying ban on transition and administration officials, saying the rule would both deter top talent from joining Trump’s team and expand the use of loopholes,” Politico reports.
“Under the definitions in the Lobbying Disclosure Act, former officials can avoid registering as lobbyists if they spend less than 20 percent of their time in meetings with government officials or preparing for them. Thus, some former officials ration their time to avoid such direct contacts, even if they’re directing colleagues on how to gain favor for clients.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), “delivering a speech that sounded at times like a farewell address, defended his legacy and was coy about whether he might join President-elect Donald Trump’s administration,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Said Christie: “No matter what happens, whether I join the Trump administration in some capacity or I stay here and finish my term… I’ve had a pretty good run.”
However, Christie added that he has “no reason to believe” he would “do anything other than serve out my full term.”
Newt Gingrich told McClatchy that he will not serve in the Donald Trump administration in any official role.
Said Gingrich: “I will not be in the Cabinet. I intend to be focused on strategic planning.”
“He did not say whether the decision not to be in the new government was his or Trump’s. The Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment.”
Gingrich to the Washington Post: “I want to be free to network across the whole system and look at what we have to do to succeed.”
“David Petraeus – the former US army general and CIA director who was prosecuted for mishandling classified information – has entered the race to become Donald Trump’s secretary of state,” the Guardian reports.
“Petraeus resigned in November 2012 after the FBI discovered he had had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and had shared classified information with her. He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for mishandling the information. People who have seen him recently say he is anxious to return to public life and has privately refused to rule out serving in a Trump administration.”
Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is talking with lawyers about how he can legally join the administration, the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Kushner has consulted with at least one lawyer and believes that by forgoing a salary and putting his investment fund, his newspaper (The New York Observer) and his real estate holdings into a blind trust that he would not be bound by federal anti-nepotism such rules.”
“Still, it is not clear that such an arrangement would be legal. Under federal statute, the president cannot accept voluntary services that are not permitted by law, and a separate statute bars public officials from employing family members in any capacity.”
“I will tell you something I haven’t told anybody else. I’ve had some conversation with some other Republican senators and I’m not the only one with some misgivings over both Giuliani and Bolton. And I haven’t met a Democrat that’s for either one of them. But I’ve met several Republicans that aren’t.”
— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in an interview on Hardball, on who might be the next Secretary of State.
Washington Post: “These seven men, as well as Trump’s adult children and a few others, will make up an unusual power grid in a capital city used to a hierarchical structure. Trump is presiding over concentric spheres of influence, designed to give him direct access to a constellation of counselors and opinions.”
“Such an approach also risks bringing confrontation or even paralysis as feuding factions work to further their own goals, edge out adversaries or distract Trump — as happened more than once during his presidential campaign.”
“As president, his associates said, Trump will seek rather than shun competing advice. His presidency will be governance as a series of ongoing conversations.”
“Donald Trump’s son-in-law, who became a close adviser in the presidential campaign, is likely to take a top White House job,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Jared Kushner, who has emerged as a lightning rod as departures have mounted in recent days from the team vetting possible appointees, is being pushed to join the president’s inner circle by new White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and presidential counselor Stephen Bannon… Mr. Kushner is regarded as Mr. Trump’s eyes and ears inside the evolving presidential transition… The 35-year-old Mr. Kushner would have a role in the White House along the lines of senior adviser or special counsel.”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was being discussed as a potential Energy Secretary in the Trump administration, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The department is the one Perry famously forgot during a Republican primary debate in 2012.
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