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Trump’s shaming tweet sends House GOP into retreat

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, center, sponsored a bill to

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, center, sponsored a bill to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics on the first day of the 115th session of Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2016. House Republicans adopted the controversial plan during a closed-door meeting on Monday, but later backed away from the legislation after criticism from Donald Trump. Credit: EPA / Jim Lo Scalzo

Shock and awe in 140 characters

Donald Trump’s use of Twitter will keep making people nervous — when used to saber-rattle against nuclear-armed adversaries, for instance — and repulsed — when it’s a platform for his petty feuds.

But the president-elect showed dramatically Monday that it can be an instrument of power that gets fast results.

In the morning, he weighed in against House Republicans for their secret vote one day before to gut the power of the ethics watchdogs tasked with ferreting out corruption within their ranks.

To be sure, Trump joined a parade already forming. The House members were getting angry constituent calls before Trump's tweet amped up the volume.

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it ... may be, their number one act and priority,” said the back-to-back tweets. “Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!”

House Republicans held an emergency meeting and by early afternoon, the plan was put on the shelf. See Newsday’s story by Emily Ngo and Laura Figueroa.

Ethics issues may return to the spotlight on Jan. 11 when Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference. Trump has promised details on how he can avoid conflicts of interest with his global family-run business empire.

The take-way: The eth-thick of it

A close reading of Trump’s tweets shows he wasn’t unsympathetic to the core complaint of a majority of House Republicans. He called it “unfair.”

Trump’s big gripe was over the timing, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison, leaving open the chance that the House GOP can try again at a later date without objection from the 45th president.

Clintons suck it up

True to form, Hillary Clinton took her time deliberating and consulting friends and advisers before deciding this: She and Bill Clinton will attend Trump’s inauguration. Sources told New York Magazine it was out of a sense of duty and respect for the democratic process.

Former President George W. Bush, who did not support fellow Republican Trump, will also be there with his wife, Laura, “to witness the peaceful transfer of power,” a spokesman announced Monday.

Former President Jimmy Carter was an early yes. The other living ex-president, George H.W. Bush, who is in frail health, is not going.

Ford rethinks its future

Trump claimed another win when Ford Motor Co. said it was canceling plans to build a new, $1.6 billion factory in Mexico and will invest at least some of the savings in new electric and autonomous vehicles to be built in the U.S.

“This is a vote of confidence for President-elect Trump . . . and some of the policies he may be pursuing,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields.

However, General Motors pushed back after Trump tweeted that the company is “sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border.” He threatened GM with a “big border tax!”

GM said all but 4,500 of the 190,000 Cruzes sold in 2016 were U.S.-made.

New hacking skepticism

Trump tweeted Monday night that the briefing he is due to receive on the intelligence community’s findings about Russia’s role in campaign cyberhacking has been delayed — and he indicated he finds that suspicious.

The tweet: “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”

NBC News said it was told by a senior intelligence official that the briefing on hacking was always scheduled for Friday.

Schumer to Trump: Get serious

In his first speech as Senate minority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) appealed to Trump to keep promises he made to win working-class votes, warned him about coarse, divisive language and criticized him for taking a hard-right turn with his Cabinet nominees.

Schumer also took aim at Trump for being Twitter-happy, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune. “With all due respect, America cannot afford a Twitter presidency,” he said. “These issues are complex and demand both careful consideration and action. We cannot tweet them away.”

Trump is reported to have said he likes Schumer more than some fellow Republicans. Schumer told CNN: “When you get to be in my position, people do tend to want to flatter you and you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt.”

Schooling the new schools secretary

An early symbolic protest has been lodged on Long Island against the policy changes represented by Trump's nominee for education secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos. The outspoken Patchogue-Medford school board urged senators to resist confirming her, Newsday's Joie Tyrrell reports.

Guantánamo dispute

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said there won’t be any change of plans in response to Trump’s call for no more releases from the Guantánamo military prison, where terrorists have been held.

The Obama administration is preparing to release another 19 of the 59 detainees at the facility before the president leaves office, The Washington Post reported. “There is one commander in chief at a time, and the secretary of defense will continue to carry out his responsibilities as he sees appropriate,” said Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook.

What else is happening

  • Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner — both expected to have big White House roles — have competed a deal for a six-bedroom house in Washington’s tony Kalorama neighborhood, reports the Washingtonian magazine. The Obamas will be moving to a house less than two blocks away.
  • The benefit of Trump's legislative agenda could be in the billions of dollars -- for himself, according to tax experts interviewed by Politico.
  • Omarosa Manigault — a memorable (though twice-fired) contestant on Trump’s “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice” — is getting a White House job described as public engagement. She’s been there before as a staffer for Vice President Al Gore during the Bill Clinton administration.
  • Trump, who decried shortcomings in VA hospitals during the campaign, is still searching for a Veterans Affairs secretary. He met Monday with Lockheed Martin executive Leo Mackay Jr., a former top official in the department, Politico says.
  • Trump shared a stage at his Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve party with a onetime pal of the late mob boss John Gotti, CNN says. Joseph “Joey No Socks” Cinque, who has a record for possessing stolen art, heads a hospitality rating company that has bestowed awards on Trump properties.
  • While Trump vows North Korea won’t attain intercontinental nuclear missiles, his options are slim, The Associated Press says: diplomatic concessions, sanctions that haven’t worked, and high-risk military action.
  • Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington estimate 200,000 people will participate in its Jan. 21 anti-Trump protest, Politico says.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says private information gathered on so-called Dreamers — 740,000 young immigrants in the U.S. without proper documents — should not be used to deport them, Politico reported.

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