Trump’s fast-forward button
The Donald Trump administration won’t be a full house when it begins Friday. He has named only 28 of the 690 people for jobs requiring Senate confirmation, according to The Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service.
Dozens of players remain to be named later for critical positions across key foreign policy and defense agencies, says Politico, raising worry about the nation’s ability to handle a sudden crisis.
But that hasn’t stopped the president-elect from taking the long view. He told The Washington Post that he has already picked a slogan for a re-election bid in 2020.
“Are you ready?” he said. “ ‘Keep America Great’ exclamation point.”
He paused the interview to instruct a lawyer to “trademark and register” the slogan — both with and without the punctuation mark.
Trump also told a yarn about how he came up with “Make America Great Again” after Mitt Romney lost in 2012. Actually, CNN noted, he already had been using the slogan for almost a year.
The take-away: House of landlords
Trump has brought fellow New York real estate titans inside his presidential tent, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
Developer Richard LeFrak will head up a new council to monitor spending on the president-elect’s proposed $1 trillion plan for improving U.S. infrastructure. Steven Roth of Vornado Realty will work alongside him. And son-in-law Jared Kushner, going to the White House as a senior adviser, is a real estate mogul in his own right.
Standing the heat
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee for EPA administrator, said at his confirmation hearing that “I do not believe climate change is a hoax,” but said the impact of human activity is still hazy, Newsday’s Tom Brune reports.
Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, appeared before the Senate on the same day two federal agencies said that 2016 was the hottest year on record.
Democrats grilled Pruitt repeatedly about his EPA lawsuits, his ties to the energy and other industries and campaign contributions Pruitt received from oil interests.
Fights ahead on school funds
Education analysts predict the Trump administration will push for expanded school choice, taxpayer-funded vouchers and more funding for charter schools, setting the stage for high-profile battles with public school advocates and teacher unions, Newsday’s Scott Eidler reports.
Long Island administrators said they are worried that Trump’s proposals could result in less funding for the region’s school systems.
Follow the rubles
The FBI and five other agencies have collaborated for months on an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided Trump, McClatchy news reports.
Sources told McClatchy that one question is whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to funnel cash, directly or through intermediaries, to hackers.
When fraudsters claim fraud
Worth a look: A true story in the NY Times describes the success of a smart 23-year-old former college quarterback with an interest in Republican politics making good money by completely fabricating a campaign story alleging pro-Democratic election fraud. But it isn't a unique event for the so-called Christian Times newspaper, which has been bearing false witness for some time.
Europe: Don’t forget about us
Worried about the future of their alliances with the United States, European leaders are scrambling to get face time with Trump before he can meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, The Associated Press reports.
During his campaign and in recent interviews, Trump has questioned the worth of NATO and the European Union, while praising Putin, who is seen by countries to his west as a growing threat.
What else is happening
- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said after meeting with Trump that he made a pitch for federal infrastructure dollars for projects in the state and voiced concerns about the planned repeal of Obamacare, Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports. For New York, “three million uninsured people would be a problem,” Cuomo said.
- Rep. Tom Price, the nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, defended stock transactions he made as “above board.” He offered few details on replacing Obamacare, but said, “Nobody’s interested in pulling the rug out from under anybody.”
- Trump nominees will likely skate on ethical problems that in the past have jammed up other candidates for Cabinet jobs, the Washington Post reports.
- Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, admitted in a Senate questionnaire that he failed to pay more than $15,000 in taxes for a household employee. Sen. Chuck Schumer noted the GOP has forced Democratic nominees to withdraw for similar delinquencies.
- A day after the inauguration, 200,000 demonstrators are expected at a Women’s March on Washington to champion causes and communities they say Trump has dismissed, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
- Trump was “troubled” by President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the prison sentence of convicted leaker Chelsea Manning, says spokesman Sean Spicer.
- Obama administration officials rushed to complete big-business probes before departing, the WSJ reports (pay site).
- Trump, tweeting a photo he said showed him working a few weeks ago on his inauguration speech, referred to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, as the “Winter White House.”
- Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is Trump’s pick for agriculture secretary, transition officials told several news organizations. The choice will disappoint those who hoped he would name a Hispanic to the last Cabinet vacancy.
- Trump is considering as science adviser Yale computer science professor David Gelernter, who wrote a polemic against “belligerent leftists” on campuses and blamed “an increasing Jewish presence at top colleges” for a decline in American culture, The Washington Post says. (Gelernter is Jewish.)
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on WFAN radio gave another reason why he turned down jobs he said Trump offered him: His wife would not move to Washington. “He didn’t offer me a job that I thought was exciting enough for me to leave the governorship and my family,” Christie said.
- "I’m hoping he stops tweeting like a 13-year-old boy and starts acting like an adult,” an independent Trump voter and attorney in Michigan told the WSJ.