Exit Polls Suggest No Clear Majority in UK Election

“The U.K. risks plunging into fresh political turmoil after exit polls signaled that the governing Conservative Party failed to achieve an overall majority in Thursday’s election, an unexpected result that raises profound questions about the country’s looming departure from the European Union,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In a potentially fatal blow to the premiership of Theresa May, the polls suggested her governing Conservative Party looks set to have fallen short of the 326 seats needed to win a majority in Britain’s 650-seat Parliament. The poll suggested that her party would win 314 seats and the main opposition Labour Party 266 seats.”

Putin Ally Wanted Immunity to Testify

“Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch once close to President Trump’s former campaign manager, has offered to cooperate with congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but lawmakers are unwilling to accept his conditions,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Deripaska’s offer comes amid increased attention to his ties to Paul Manafort, who is one of several Trump associates under F.B.I. scrutiny for possible collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign.”

“Mr. Deripaska, an aluminum magnate who is a member of the inner circle of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, recently offered to cooperate with congressional intelligence committees in exchange for a grant of full immunity… But the Senate and House panels turned him down because of concerns that immunity agreements create complications for federal criminal investigators.”

McConnell Rejects Call for Special Prosecutor

“Before President Trump was even sworn into office, congressional Republicans made a pledge: They would be a check on executive power, they said, often making the independence of the legislative branch a centerpiece of their own election campaigns last year,” the New York Times reports.

“But on Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the majority leader, sought to give the beleaguered administration significant cover, strongly defending the firing of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and resisting calls to challenge Mr. Trump and support a broader inquiry of Russian interference in the election.”

Politico: “After a flurry of GOP statements Tuesday night criticizing Trump for axing Comey so suddenly, there were no new Republican calls on Wednesday for a special prosecutor or select committee to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections or possible collusion with the Trump campaign.”

Democrats Confident They Can Block Trump’s Agenda

“Democrats believe they have set the stage to block President Trump’s legislative priorities for years to come by winning major concessions in a spending bill to keep the government open,” the Washington Post reports.

“Democrats’ lopsided victory on the five-month deal, which is likely to be approved this week, means it will be very difficult — if not impossible — for the GOP to exert its will in future budget negotiations, including when it comes to Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint.”

Politico: Congress claws back power from Trump.

Cruz Builds a War Chest

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “is sitting on a war chest of more than $5 million as he prepares for potentially stiff challenges in both a Republican primary and in the general election,” Politico reports.

“The Texas Republican raised about $1.738 million in the first three months of this year across his Senate reelection campaign, his political action committee and the Ted Cruz Victory Committee. He now has $5.2 million across those three committees, and $4.8 million of that is in his Senate reelection account.”

The Death of the Senate

“President Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination has the potential to do more than reshape the nation’s judicial branch for years to come. It could end the Senate’s long history as the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the Washington Post reports.

“Liberal and conservative activists are girding for a fight that, under current rules, gives Democrats the power to block any court nomination. But in this week’s environment, with Democrats delaying Cabinet nominations and both sides calling each other names largely unheard of in the history of the Senate’s genteel discourse, Republicans could take steps to eliminate that power.”

“If such a showdown occurs, it would be about more than ending Senate tradition of allowing an entrenched minority to stymie legislation and nominees through the filibuster. It would be about forever changing the nature of the Senate, which the founders set up with the express goal to slow down and cool off the hasty and heated impulses more common in the House.”

It’s Won’t Get Any Better

Eliot Cohen: “Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.”

Trump Seems to be Tightening the Circle Around Him

New Yorker: “In the first week of the Trump Presidency, influence has run through a very select group of advisers—maybe as many as half a dozen, maybe as few as two. The President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Bannon have consolidated their influence.”

“The President’s isolation runs deeper than that. As the confusion around the immigration ban made clear, the vast government he oversees has little input on his actions… His campaign made clear that he was not interested in the findings of scientists, social scientists, or the American government. Trump’s transition has alienated him from the American public.”

For members: The Man Behind Trump’s Gold Curtains

Reports Suggested Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia

BuzzFeed: “The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Barack Obama and Trump.”

“Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.”

Washington Post: “The officials said that U.S. intelligence agencies have not corroborated those allegations, but believed that the sources involved in the reporting were credible enough to warrant inclusion of their claims in the highly classified report on Russian interference in the presidential campaign.”

Pelosi Accuses Republicans of ‘Power Grab’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of attempting a “power grab” to snuff out free speech on the House floor with their controversial new rules package, Politico reports.

“Democrats say the proposed fines, a response to their gun control sit-in over the summer, is an unprecedented breach of decorum. And some experts have questioned the constitutionality of such a move, which House members are expected to approve as part of a broader rules package in early January.”