Predict crusher for Russia crush
Donald Trump may now concede, barely, that Russian hacking targeting Democrats during the campaign really happened. But hey, no biggie.
“Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing ... Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad!” he tweeted.
Get ready for some heartbreak, warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“My suspicion is, these hopes will be dashed pretty quickly,” the Kentucky Republican said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “The Russians are a big adversary, and they demonstrated it by trying to mess around in our election.”
Instead of wooing Vladimir Putin, Trump should be preparing sanctions of his own against Russia, said Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
“You should let everybody know in America, Republicans and Democrats, that you’re going to make Russia pay a price for trying to interfere,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Word on the Streep
The Golden Globes award show became a forum for Trump-bashing. A prime sample from actress Meryl Streep: "There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good, there was nothing good about it, but it was effective and it did its job."
"It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back."
The president-elect replied several times early Monday on Twitter -- more response than he showed to the massacre in Fort Lauderdale -- as well as to the New York Times, calling Streep a "Hillary lover."
Obama: Listen to the intel
President Barack Obama said he had advised Trump to have confidence in assessments by the intelligence agencies and trust that they will share their own uncertainties.
“What I’ve said to him is that there are going to be times where you’ve got raw intelligence that comes in and in my experience over eight years, the intelligence community is pretty good about saying, ‘Look, we can’t say for certain what this means,’ ” the president told ABC’s “This Week.”
“But there are going to be times where the only way you can make a good decision is if you have confidence that the process is working,” Obama said. See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
Pledge on Medicare, Social Security
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Trump won’t “meddle with Medicare or Social Security,” sticking by a campaign promise to leave those programs intact.
That could put him on a collision course with congressional Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, who have long favored restructuring the programs. Priebus spoke on “Face the Nation.”
GOP: No hearing delays
McConnell rejected calls by Democrats to slow down the confirmation process for Trump’s nominees until the independent Office of Government Ethics can complete its reviews for potential conflicts of interest.
Nine Cabinet confirmation hearings are scheduled in the Senate this week, Politico reported. McConnell said completion of the reviews before the full Senate votes is what matters.
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is planning to step down from his family’s real estate empire and “divest substantial assets” if he takes a position in the administration, his lawyer told The Associated Press.
But Kushner may face scrutiny for recent postelection dealing with Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese financial giant, The New York Times reported. Some Wall Street firms have shied away from advising Anbang on mergers and acquisitions because its true ownership is a mystery.
What else is happening
- Charlie Brotman, 89, has been the announcer at every inaugural parade since Dwight Eisenhower’s in 1957, but Trump’s team has replaced him with a campaign-time supporter, Washington TV station WJLA reports.
- The brilliant, rich and secretive Mercers -- masters of Renaissance Technologies in East Setauket and now influential with Trump -- did data magic in his campaign, The Wall Street Journal says in a profile.
- These members of the global financial elite -- all close to Trump -- aren't expected to lose out in the coming administration.
- Trump’s prolific, indiscriminate tweets have left corporate executives, celebrities, politicians, foreign diplomats and national security brass apprehensive about what he might pop off about — and when, The Washington Post reports.
- McCain says meeting with Rex Tillerson has allayed some but not all of his concerns about Trump’s pick for secretary of state.
- Two issues will be at the forefront when Trump holds a long-awaited news conference Wednesday: how he answers questions about the Russian hacking and how he plans to avoid conflicts of interest with his business empire while serving as president.