‘Sincere search’ for common ground

Former Vice President Al Gore met with President-elect Donald Trump on Monday, in what Gore described as a “lengthy and very productive session.”

“It was a sincere search for areas of common ground. . . . I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I’m just going to leave it at that,” Gore told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower.

Earlier in the day, Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller said Gore and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump were slated to meet to discuss climate change without the president-elect, but those plans were scrapped by the time Gore arrived at Trump Tower shortly after 11:20 a.m.

Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his environmental activism, met with the father-daughter duo amid reports that Ivanka would like to make climate change one of her signature issues, even as her father has repeatedly called global warming a “hoax.”

Newsday’s Laura Figueroa provides a recap from Trump Tower.

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Dr. Carson’s house call

Trump named former campaign rival turned campaign surrogate Ben Carson as his pick for Housing and Urban Development secretary.

The retired neurosurgeon will head an agency in charge of enforcing fair housing laws and managing affordable housing programs, prompting concerns from some housing activists about Carson’s level of experience in the field.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democratic member of the House Oversight Committee, called Carson “woefully unqualified, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition called Carson’s selection “surprising and concerning, given his lack of experience with or knowledge of the programs he would oversee.”

Carson has been a frequent critic of the Obama administration’s rule mandating that cities and towns report racial bias in their housing patterns, according to The Washington Post.

In a piece Carson wrote for The Washington Times last year, he said the reporting rule would “fundamentally change” communities by requiring affordable housing to be built in wealthier neighborhoods.

Trump lauded his selection, calling Carson, “passionate about strengthening communities and families.”

The Garland treatment

Senate Democrats tell Politico they’re prepared to put Trump’s cabinet picks through a grueling and lengthy confirmation process that could cut into the incoming president’s first 100 days.

Noting Republicans’ refusal to act on Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court for nearly a year, Democrats say they’re less inclined to fast-track Trump’s cabinet nominees.

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“They’ve been rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court justice. We’re going to help them confirm their nominees, many of whom are disqualified?” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told the outlet. “It’s not obstruction, it’s not partisan, it’s just a duty to find out what they’d do in these jobs.”

China on Trump

Chinese government officials on Monday weighed in on Trump’s latest batch of critical tweets, with the state’s foreign ministry spokesman saying, “We must certainly declare our stand,” according to media reports.

On Sunday evening Trump wrote on Twitter: “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency [and] build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!”

Trump fired off the tweets amid growing scrutiny of his recent call with the president of Taiwan, which he described as a “congratulatory call,” but one that broke with decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol.

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No sitting U.S. president or president-elect has spoken directly with Taiwan officials since 1979, when the U.S. formalized diplomatic relations with the Chinese capital of Beijing. China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and not a sovereign nation.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, “The whole world is clear on the Chinese government’s position on Taiwan, and that includes President-elect Trump and his team.

“As for the motivations behind certain actions of President-elect Trump and his team,” Lu added, “I don’t want to speculate, but we certainly must declare our stand and attitude on issues that affect China.”

A front-page editorial published in the state-run People’s Daily newspaper said the call with Taiwan set a bad precedent. “Trump’s unconventional move on Taiwan did ring a warning bell for the direction of Sino-US relations. China will not take it lightly,” the paper said.

Stein rallies on

Green Party leader Jill Stein, at a rally with supporters outside Trump Tower, called on the president-elect to drop his objections to the party’s recount effort in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

“We are here to assure Donald Trump that there is nothing to be afraid of if you believe in democracy, if you believe in the credibility of your victory,” Stein said. “Put down your arms. End your bureaucratic obstruction, end your intimidation and join we the people of America, who are calling for a democracy that serves all of us and elections that we can trust.”

On Monday, a federal court judge ordered Michigan to begin its recount, after the state’s Republican attorney general sought to delay the count.

Also Monday, Green Party supporters filed a federal lawsuit requesting Pennsylvania commence its recount effort without the $1 million bond a state court had requested from the supporters to proceed with the new count.

What else is happening

  • Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, a key adviser to the president-elect, are house hunting in Washington, D.C., according to CNN.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has requested $35 million in federal funding to cover the costs of heightened security at Trump Tower, reports AMNewYork.
  • A coalition of 53 advocacy groups called on Trump to rescind his appointment of Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser, citing his past statements on Muslims.
  • Flynn’s son defended the legitimacy of a fake news story that claimed Democratic operatives were running a pedophilia ring at a Washington, D.C., pizza shop. Authorities have said the story was a fabrication.
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, has raised concerns about Trump’s proposed 35% tariff on U.S. companies that relocate jobs overseas.
  • Kasich for President? A group of rogue Electoral College voters are considering casting their vote for the Ohio governor and former GOP presidential nominee instead of Trump, reports Politico.
  • Trump’s “Thank You Tour” heads to Fayetteville, North Carolina., on Tuesday. Events in Des Moines, Iowa, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, have also been added to the schedule.