Wednesday, November 16, 2016
65 Days until Inauguration DayI'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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- Trump Insists Transition is Organized, As Reports Indicate Anything But “Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions,” President-elect Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday night. “I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”
- However, news reports would indicate that his transition is anything but organized, as infighting and firings abound. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the transition is "in disarray." Trump and his orbit is described as being surprised by their upset victory last week, leading Trump to unceremoniously dismiss Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) as transition chair, in favor of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
- Christie's team, which had been laboring over the transition for months, was then layered over by Trump allies, as the President-elect installed his top campaign surrogates - those he is most comfortable around, and seeks to award in the Administration. In addition, the Times reported that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner was purging the transition team of all individuals with ties to Christie, who jailed Kushner's father as a federal prosecutor.
- As a result, former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), lobbyist Matthew Freedman, and at least two others who had been handling nationals security policy and appointments, were both fired, leaving a gaping hole in an operation that has just 65 days to fill over 4,000 jobs. Taking Rogers' place as the transition's senior national security adviser is former Reagan Administration official Frank Gaffney, a conspiracy theorist labeled as "one of America's most notorious Islamophobia" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Trump adviser during the campaign.
- Trump's insistence that his transition was a "very organized process" did not fit with the assessment of Eliot Cohen, a State Department official under President George W. Bush. Cohen, who urged Republicans to keep open minds in the days after Trump's election, tweeted Tuesday: "After exchange [with] Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They're angry, arrogant, screaming "you LOST!" Will be ugly."
- Cohen told the Washington Post that Trump and his team "view jobs as lollipops, things you give out to good boys and girls." If anything, the transition so far has certainly been kind to Trump allies who stuck with him throughout the campaign, while punishing longtime Republican officials. The list of vice chairs of the transition committee is a "who's who" of Trump's most outspoken surrogates: Christie, Dr. Ben Carson, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
- These are also the figures said to be under consideration for senior Cabinet posts, with Giuliani and Giuliani rumored to be in the lead for Secretary of State and Sessions and Flynn said to be leading candidates for Secretary of Defense. Carson was reportedly a top choice for Education Secretary or Secretary of Health and Human Services, but he took himself out of consideration for a Cabinet post on Tuesday.
- So far, Trump has only announced the appointments of two loyalists to senior White House posts: RNC chairman Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, and campaign CEO and former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President. All 15 Cabinet secretaries, as well as their thousands of underlings, have yet to be nominated.
- However, at this point in his transition, then-Sen. Barack Obama had also appointed only a Chief of Staff. Giuliani told the Times on Tuesday that the process is "completely normal," adding: "This is a hard thing to do. Transitions always have glitches. This is an enormously complex process.
- Although they are not expected to receive formal titles, the power of Trump's family in his Administration is expected to be enormous. Trump's son-in-law, New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner, is one of the President-elect's must trusted aides, with Politico reporting that he was the one to convince Trump to appoint Priebus, and not Bannon, to become Chief of Staff. NBC reported Tuesday that Team Trump requested Kushner be designated with the security clearance to attend classified Presidential Daily Briefings that Trump and a select group of advisers are now receiving. The network also reported that Trump's adult children will also begin to receive Secret Service protection, a potential conflict of interest since they will take over their father's business portfolio. Their addition to his transition committee had already raised eyebrows.
- Trump denied the rumors with a Wednesday morning tweet: "I am not trying to get 'top level security clearance' for my children. This was a typically false news story."
White House Watch
- The President's Schedule President Barack Obama tours cultural sites in Athens, Greece, the birthplace of democracy,before he departs for the next leg of his final foreign trip as president.
- At 11:25am Eastern European Time, the President will tour the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
- At 1:50pm, he will speak at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athems.
- At 3:25pm, Obama will depart Athens for Berlin, where he will arrive at 5:35pm Central European Time
- NOTE: All times local. Greece times are Eastern European Time (eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in US); Germany time is Central European Time (six hours ahead of EST)
- The Vice President's Schedule Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, will host Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife Karen for lunch at the Naval Observatory, the vice presidential residence.
Capitol Hill News
- Congressional Schedule The Senate will return at 2:30pm today and jump into consideration o the American Energy and Conservation Act, a bill to "provide for reforms of the administration of the outer Continental Shelf of the United States, to provide for the development of geothermal, solar, and wind energy on public land," according to the bill text. A cloture vote on the measure will be held Thursday.
- Meanwhile, the House meets at 10am today, but will not hold any votes until around 5pm. The chamber will consider a bill prohibiting "U.S. financial institutions from financing the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to the Islamic Republic of Iran," according to Popvox.
- Also today: both parties in the Senate will elect their leaders for the next Congress. As in the House, there is much less certainty on the Republican side: the party is expected to keep nearly its entire leadership team, from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on down. The single exception is the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC) chairman, a post expected to be easily won by Cory Gardner (R-CO).
- The post of retiring Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to be easily won by Caucus Vice Chair and Policy Committee chair Chuck Schumer (D-NV). However, the question remains if Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is being skipped over for Majority Leader, will be able to keep his current No. 2 post. There are rumors that Caucus Secretary Patty Murray (D-WA) is angling to challenge him, which she did not deny on Tuesday. The leadership elections are held in private.
- In addition, there is no announced candidate to take over the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2018 cycle, which promises to be difficult for Democrats. With high-profile Democrats like Cory Booker (NJ), Al Franken (MN), Chris Coons (DE), and Jeanne Shaheen (NH) ruling out runs for DSCC chair, many fingers are pointing at Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD), who was just elected to the Senate last week.
- Democratic leadership elections are also being complicated by members of the progressive wing, including Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), hoping to move up in the leadership structure.
- Meanwhile, House Republicans on Tuesday unanimously re-nominated Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WA) and the key members of his leadership team. House Democrats, unsure if Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) will challenge Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), postponed their leadership elections until November 30.
- Daily Data This is a fascinating data point flagged on Twitter by Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal:
- in a Gallup poll conducted from November 1 to November 7, 61% of Democrats and just 16% of Republicans said the U.S. economy is "getting better." 81% of Republicans and 35% of Democrats answered "getting worse."
- When Gallup asked the same question in a poll conducted from November 9 to November 13, suddenly 46% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans answered "getting better." 47% of Democrats and 44% of Republicans said "getting worse."
- In other words, between November 7 and November 9, something happened to cause a 15% drop in Democratic confidence in the economy, and a a 33% gain in Republican confidence. The Republican index (% better minus % worse) jumped from -65% to +5%, while the Democratic index plummeted from +26% to -1%.
- I wonder what events could have occurred between November 7 and November 9 to cause such a stark partisan divide?
- Today's Question The Republican Governors Association is expected to install Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) as chairman today, a position that has been held by many past presidential candidates (including Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal) while gearing up for White House runs. Who is the only RGA chairman to become President of the United States?
- Send your guess or answer to firstname.lastname@example.org; correct respondents get their name in tomorrows's newsletter!
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