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.”

Mook Says Clinton Failed to Attract Young Voters

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook acknowledged that the Clinton campaign lost the election because “younger voters, perhaps assuming that Clinton was going to win, migrated to third-party candidates in the final days of the race,” according to the Washington Post.

He noted that the campaign needed to win upwards of 60% of young voters but it was able to garner something “in the high 50s at the end of the day. That’s why we lost.”

DNC Told FBI Its Headquarters Were Bugged

Mother Jones: “In an episode reminiscent of Watergate, the Democratic Party recently informed the FBI that it had collected evidence suggesting its Washington headquarters had been bugged, according to two Democratic National Committee officials, who asked not to be named.”

“In September, according to these sources, the DNC hired a firm to conduct an electronic sweep of its offices. After Russian hackers had penetrated its email system and those of other Democratic targets, DNC officials believed it was prudent to scrutinize their offices. This examination found nothing unusual.”

“The second sweep, according to the Democratic officials, found a radio signal near the chairman’s office that indicated there might be a listening device outside the office.”

Clinton’s Lead Safer As Undecided Voters Shrink

Harry Enten: “Gary Johnson averaged just 7 percentage points in 11 polls released on Thursday, continuing a string of bad results for the Libertarian Party nominee. At the same time, the number of undecided voters appears to be falling. Those two trends are combining to remove some of the uncertainty in our forecasts — historically, the number of undecided and third-party voters has been strongly correlated with both polling volatility and polling error. The share of voters not supporting the major-party candidates remains higher than it was at this point in the 2012 campaign, for example, but the more it shrinks, the safer Hillary Clinton’s lead becomes.”

Even Trump’s Charity Is a Scam

A Washington Post editorial:

“Mr. Trump has cultivated the persona of a generous man, repeatedly claiming on television he would donate to charity “out of my wallet” and accepting honors from groups he appeared to support. In fact, an exhaustive investigation by Post reporter David A. Fahrenthold shows that Mr. Trump retooled his foundation about a decade ago to act as an intermediary for other people’s charitable giving, a racket from which Mr. Trump gained in reputation and from which he may even have occasionally profited.”

“Mr. Trump does not appear to have given his own money to the Trump Foundation since 2008, and by then Trump funds had become a tiny slice of the organization’s revenue. Since then, the available records suggest, a charitable group that bears the billionaire’s name has been funded by others. That has not stopped Mr. Trump from claiming credit for doling out other people’s cash.”

Can Trumpism Be Defeated Along with Trump?

Peggy Noonan: “From what I’ve seen there has been zero reflection on the part of Republican leaders on how much the base’s views differ from theirs and what to do about it. The GOP is not at all refiguring its stands. The only signs of life I see are among young staffers on Capitol Hill, who understand their bosses’ stands have been rebuked and are quietly debating among themselves what policy paths will win the future.”

“Beyond that, anti-Trump Republicans treat his voters like immoral enablers of a malignant boob. Should Mr. Trump lose decisively in November they’ll lord it over everyone, say ‘I told you so,’ and accept what they imagine will be forelock-tugging apologies. Then they will get to work burying not only Mr. Trump but his issues.”

“That’s where the future of the GOP will be fought, and found: on whether Trumpism can be defeated along with Mr. Trump.”

Trump Picks Pence as His Running Mate

Donald Trump’s campaign has signaled strongly to Republicans in Washington that he will pick Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, “though Republicans caution the party’s mercurial presidential candidate may still backtrack on his apparent choice,” the New York Times reports.

“A low-key man largely defined in public life by his Christian faith, Mr. Pence, 57, is seen as a cautious choice of running mate — a political partner who is unlikely to embarrass Mr. Trump, and who may help him shore up support among conservative voters still wary of his candidacy.”

Recent Morning Consult polling shows Pence generates little enthusiasm among voters.

For members: Why Pence Is Trump’s Best Choice for Veep

Republicans Have Only Themselves to Blame

Charlie Cook: “My re­ac­tion is not ter­ribly sym­path­et­ic. If Hil­lary Clin­ton is such a hor­rible per­son, so ill-suited for the pres­id­ency, why didn’t they unite be­hind some­body, any­body, while there was still time to beat her? After Don­ald Trump lost the April 5 Wis­con­sin primary to Ted Cruz, the door was open. But when Trump swept the Acela primar­ies on April 26, win­ning not only Con­necti­c­ut, Delaware, Mary­land, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Is­land but every county with­in each state, the race was over. The door had slammed shut.”

“The truth is that Re­pub­lic­ans were not in a mood to nom­in­ate Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Marco Ru­bio, or any oth­er es­tab­lish­ment-ori­ented can­did­ate. They also des­pised Ted Cruz so he would nev­er do. None of the oth­er al­tern­at­ives meas­ured up. They were so angry with the gov­ern­ment that they wanted to fire a shot­gun blast at Wash­ing­ton. They ended up shoot­ing them­selves in the foot. They got Don­ald Trump and a gimpy party.”