The Daily 202: Romney twisting in the wind offers a preview of Trump’s reality-show governing style – Washington Post

THE BIG IDEA: No conventional president-elect would tolerate Kellyanne Conway’s blistering broadside against Mitt Romney on the Sunday shows, but Donald Trump is not conventional. He’s changing how the game is played.

Americans historically choose presidents whose personalities are the opposite of their immediate predecessor. “No-drama Obama,” as David Axelrod first labeled the president during the 2008 campaign, abhors even the slightest whiff of staff-level discord. But Trump, ever the showman, enjoys drama and suspense. He likes to keep people guessing. He sees unpredictability as a virtue.

It should surprise no one that the host of “The Apprentice” would approach picking his cabinet like choosing the winner of a reality television show.

On both CNN and ABC yesterday, Trump’s campaign manager – who is expected to land a top White House job – laid out a case against Romney that she’s surely already made in private. Over almost five minutes, Conway outlined at least eight reasons why her client/boss/patron should not choose the 2012 GOP nominee for the most important job in the cabinet. It was surreal to watch because it is so historically unusual for this to play out so publicly. The host struggled to get a word in as she relayed the following points:

  • Many of Trump’s core supporters “feel betrayed” that Romney is even being considered: “It’s just breathtaking in scope and intensity the type of messages I have received from all over the country.”
  • There will be an even bigger “backlash from the grassroots” if Romney gets the job: “I’m hearing from people who say, ‘Hey, my parents died penniless, but I gave $216 to Donald Trump’s campaign and I would feel betrayed.’ You have people saying, ‘I thought we got rid of this type.’”
  • The first job of a secretary of state is to be loyal, and Romney was disloyal throughout the campaign: “He gave speeches against Donald Trump. He attacked his character. … He put Ed McMullin up in Utah.”
  • Romney’s advisers were very mean to Trump on Twitter: “The Romney consultants … were the worst to all of us, including Mr. Trump. Their Twitter feeds were complete 100 percent anti-Trump screeds.”
  • Romney is a loser: “It’s Donald Trump who has shown that he has political instincts. Governor Romney ran for the same office four years ago and lost spectacularly. … Mitt Romney lost Michigan by 10 points. Donald Trump just won it.”
  • There are other very good candidates, so he doesn’t need to settle for Mitt.
  • Romney does not actually have meaningful foreign policy experience: “In the last four years, I mean has he been around the globe doing something on behalf of the United States of which we’re unaware? Did he go and intervene in Syria, where they’re having a massive humanitarian crisis, meaning, when I say intervene, like offer to help? Has he been helpful to Mr. Netanyahu?”
  • Trump could extend an olive branch to the Republican establishment without actually tapping Romney: “I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position.”

– Conway subsequently engaged on Twitter with three different TV talking heads who criticized her for going off on Romney.

– These tweets underscore that this was not some off-the-cuff crack during a TV interview. Conway would not have made this case so forcefully unless she believed both that it could sway the president-elect’s thinking and that she could get away with it.

– The ongoing deliberation over who to install at Foggy Bottom therefore helps spotlight at least five of Trump’s leadership traits:

1. The president-elect likes having rival power centers, which he believes give him a mixture of advice. Trump does not want any one person (who is not related to him by blood or marriage) to have too much power – or, just as importantly, to be perceived as having too much power. We saw this dynamic at work throughout the campaign, as typified by the pitched battles between chairman Paul Manafort and manager Corey Lewandowski. It’s also clearly the goal of making Reince Priebus chief of staff and installing Stephen Bannon as chief strategist in the White House.

2. Trump is not as decisive as he wants people to think. He seems deeply torn about who to choose, just as he was during the running-mate selection process, and will probably keep changing his mind until he announces a final decision. The New York Post reported this weekend that Trump was asking random members of his Mar-a-Lago club on Thanksgiving night whether he should pick Romney or Rudy Giuliani. “One witness told us Trump took a prime table next to the fireplace in the club’s living room, but spent a lot of time greeting members and asking who they think should be his top diplomat,” Emily Smith reported.

3. People trying to influence the new president know that, unlike Obama, he actually watches cable news and the Sunday shows. Even close allies who have Trump’s ear will try to reach him by going on TV. Newt Gingrich, who Romney defeated in 2012, and Mike Huckabee, who he beat in 2008, have both gone on Fox News to say the former Massachusetts governor would be a bad pick in an effort to settle old scores. Not only has Scarborough spoken out loudly against Giuliani on the assumption that Trump is watching “Morning Joe,” but Sean Hannity has come out hard against Romney during his primetime show as well. 

4. Appearances matter. Trump himself has told aides that he believes Romney “looks the part.” Trump liked Romney quite a bit during their meeting two weeks ago, and multiple advisers told the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman that “he is intrigued by the possibility of such a camera-ready option to represent the country around the globe.”

5. It is not completely out of the question that Trump is making Romney go through this whole rigmarole for the sole purpose of publicly humiliating him. After Mitt auditioned for the job, and came to kiss his ring, it would be harder for him to publicly criticize the new president because it will look like he’s motivated by sour grapes from someone who got passed over. Fox News reported over the weekend that Trump wants Romney to publicly apologize for being so negative toward him during the campaign. Imagine if he did so, and then Trump announced Giuliani?

This sort of played out in miniature with Ted Cruz. Two weeks ago, Trump met with his main rival for the GOP presidential nomination. Journalists wrote stories about the Texas senator telling people he wanted to be attorney general. Then, immediately after, Trump announced he was going with Jeff Sessions for the job.

– Is Giuliani behind this? He badly wants the job, and he’s said as much in public. But a third, surprise candidate could wind up emerging from this donnybrook. David Petraeus and John Kelly, two career military men, are being mentioned by many in Trump world, as is Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who seemed to take himself out of contention a few weeks ago when it looked like Rudy would get it.

– Some historical perspective: Ronald Reagan faced somewhat similar tensions in 1980. Hardliner loyalists like Lyn Nofziger were perturbed when the president-elect elevated ex-rivals like Jim Baker into top White House roles. One big difference is that they didn’t go on TV to warn of a backlash from the grassroots; in fact, we did not understand the full extent of the unease within his inner circle until archives opened decades later.

An important cautionary tale for Mitt: Reagan’s first secretary of state was Al Haig, who had been Richard Nixon’s final White House chief of staff. But the ex-general only lasted 18 months in the job, partly because he battled constantly with Defense Secretary Cap Weinberger. Weinberger always had the upper hand during interagency turf fights because he had a deeper relationship with Reagan; he had been chairman of the California Republican Party when the president was elected governor in 1966. (Read my 2010 obituary of Haig here.)

– A serious question: why would Romney even want this job? A diplomat tends to be most successful when allies and adversaries believe that he or she speaks directly for the president. This was the case for Condi Rice but not Colin Powell. Romney would be ineffective if foreign leaders did not think that his words carry much weight because they, hypothetically, could send intermediaries to appeal to Trump’s children who are overseeing his financial interests abroad.

– The “team of rivals” model has famously worked, of course. The term dates to Abraham Lincoln, when he put three men who had run against him for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination into the three most important cabinet posts: William Seward at State, Salmon Chase at Treasury and Edward Bates at Justice. Much more recently, Hillary Clinton had credibility and gravitas when Obama tapped her after their 2008 battle for the Democratic nomination.

– HAPPENING TOMORROW: The Daily 202 goes live with Kevin McCarthy. I will interview the House Majority Leader at The Washington Post’s headquarters about the top policy priorities for the next Congress and how GOP leadership plans to work with President-Elect Trump. Register to attend the event, from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., here.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

– Francois Fillon won France’s first-ever conservative presidential primary after promising drastic free-market reforms and a crackdown on immigration and Islamic extremism, beating a more moderate rival who had warned of encroaching populism. From the AP: “Polls suggest the sober, authoritative Fillon, 62, would have a strong chance of winning the French presidency in the April-May election, amid widespread frustration with France’s current Socialist leadership. Fillon, who was prime minister from 2007-2012 under ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, enjoyed a surprise surge in popularity in recent weeks. A rise in nationalist sentiment across Europe may have favored his strict conservative positions over (Alain) Juppe’s more centrist stance. France needs ‘a complete change of software,’ Fillon said, promising in his victory speech to defend ‘French values.’ Among his promises: slash public spending, cap immigration, support traditional family values and reach out to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Juppe, 71, congratulated Fillon on his “wide victory.” During the primary campaign, he expressed similar ideas as his rival on the French economy, but tried to rally conservatives around a more tolerant attitude toward France’s ethnic, religious and social diversity.”

GET SMART FAST:

  1. Assad’s forces seized control of northeast Aleppo today, pressing forward with their offensive and sending thousands of civilians into panicked flight. The move puts a large portion of the rebel-held territory under government control for the first time since 2012. (Louisa Loveluck)
  2. A flotilla of Russian warships in the Mediterranean is providing a high-profile show of force in support of the Assad regime – but the display has also exposed gaps in the fleet’s naval aviation and carrier operations. NATO officials say the aircraft carrier lacks the kind of powerful catapult system that is featured on U.S. carriers, forcing Russian planes to carry lighter loads and less fuel. They also suffer from a scarcity in combat pilots, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  3. Police detonated a bomb discovered near the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. The device had a similar design as one used in a deadly September explosion. Authorities theorized that it was planted by an “armed Islamist group.” (CNN)
  4. Spanish authorities announced the arrest of four people suspected to have links to the Islamic State’s illegal migration network to move militants to Europe – including the terrorists involved in last year’s Paris attacks. Police believe the individuals had contacts with two extremists arrested in Salzburg shortly after the November 2015 attacks. (AP)
  5. Israeli forces killed four Islamic State allies in the Golan Heights borderlands, the first substantial fight between Israeli soldiers and an ISIS affiliate in the Syrian war. No Israelis were injured. (William Booth)
  6. One person was fatally shot and nine others injured during the Bayou Classic in the French Quarter. New Orleans police did not say what precipitated the shooting, but two men have been arrested for illegal possession of a firearm. (Kristine Guerra)
  7. Rescuers in Arkansas are celebrating the miraculous survival of an eight-month old who was found alive in a storm drain – with only a scratch on her forehead – after being ejected nearly 30 feet from her family’s car. (CNN)
  8. A Moroccan television show is under fire after airing a makeup tutorial segment showing women how to conceal bruises and other signs of domestic abuse in order to “carry on with daily life.” (Samantha Schmidt)
  9. Nearly 100 years after a 40-foot “molasses tsunami” swept through northern Boston – leaving dozens killed and incapacitated in its syrupy, destructive wake – scientists finally believe they may have cracked the science behind the deadly spill. The syrup moved quickly enough to cover several blocks “within seconds,” they said, but thickened into a harder goo as it cooled, which hindered rescue efforts. (New York Times)
  10. The TSA may be one of the most loathed federal agencies around, but its Instagram account gives megastars like Beyoncé a run for their money. It ranks number FOUR on the Rolling Stone’s list of must-follow accounts, lauded for an eclectic smattering of photos featuring TSA dogs, weapons seized, and weird finds such as an enchilada-wrapped knife. (Lori Aratani)

WITH NO EVIDENCE, THE PRESIDENT-ELECT ALLEGES MASSIVE VOTER FRAUD:

– Trump made an unsubstantiated claim last night that “millions” of people voted illegally in the election and that he would have won the popular vote if they had not. “That accusation — spread by conspiracy sites such as Infowars.com and discredited by fact-checking organizations — gained traction among some far-right conservatives disappointed that Trump lost the popular vote, Paul Kane writes. “But Trump’s embrace of the claim created even more instability around the election results from both ends of the political spectrum.”

– Trump’s tweet-storm came a day after Hillary Clinton counsel Marc Elias announced that she would participate in a Wisconsin recount led by Jill Stein. He stressed that preliminary reviews show “no actionable evidence” of wrongdoing. “We had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides,” he wrote in a nuanced post on Medium. Clinton plans to do the same if Stein follows through on plans to request recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania, he added.

Here is how Elias responded to Trump’s tweet-storm:

Kellyanne Conway responded to the news by saying that Trump has been “incredibly gracious and magnanimous” for backing off his promise to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s private email sever. “He’s been incredibly gracious and magnanimous to Secretary Clinton at a time when, for whatever reason, her folks are saying they will join in a recount to try to somehow undo the 70-plus electoral votes that he beat her by,” Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash.

– Reince Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday” that Clinton’s team had “cut a deal” with Trump’s team about conceding: Once the AP called the race for one candidate, the other would call within 15 minutes to concede. Priebus said that’s exactly what happened on election night, and he wondered aloud whether the Clinton campaign’s decision to participate in the recount violates that agreement. (CBS News)

TRUMP’S INNER CIRCLE:

– “For Trump son-in-law and confidant Jared Kushner, a long history of fierce loyalty,” by Shawn Boburg: “Jared Kushner was just an undergrad at Harvard when politicians began receiving big-dollar campaign donations bearing his name. In reality, the money was sent by his father [in a scheme that sent] the elder Kushner to prison and engulfed the family in scandal. It was a defining and pivotal episode for Kushner … But friends say it also reveals in [him] a fundamental trait that Trump prizes and has strengthened their bond: unflinching loyalty. Far from seeing his father’s actions as a betrayal, the younger Kushner flew to Alabama almost every Sunday to visit his father during his 14 months behind bars. And he publicly insisted that his father was unfairly prosecuted. Now, the same dynamic — this time between Kushner and Trump — played out on the campaign trail. … And it seems likely to carry over into the White House, where Kushner is expected to play the role of informal gatekeeper and confidant to the president and may be entrusted with the enormous task of trying to broker an end to conflict in the Middle East. Several Trump associates have said that Kushner will be a chief of staff in all but name, with wide-ranging — if sometimes hard-to-quantify — influence.”

    THREE GOOD READS ON STEPHEN BANNON:

    – Bannon has a bad temper that easily flares up, writes the New York Times’s Scott Shane: “He is an avid reader of history, fond of citing Plutarch and Plato, and his career reflects a restless, eclectic mind. He has conceived a rap musical based on Shakespeare’s ‘Coriolanus’ … overseen the troubled Biosphere 2 project, an experiment in the Arizona desert meant to mimic the earth’s ecosystem … [and] moved to Shanghai to run a company marshaling Chinese computer gamers to earn points for Western players. … Fans and foes agree that he is a ‘screamer,’ a volcanic personality who sometimes resorts to offensive or hyperbolic language. … ‘I’ve never known him to, say, go to a ballgame,” said former co-director Tim Watkins. Once, he recalled, the two argued over trimming the length of their two-hour film– angering Bannon so much he actually flipped over the table.

    – Bannon’s Harvard Business School classmates say they barely recognize him, per the Boston Globe’s Matt Viser: “He was an easy presence at weekend parties at a classmate’s home in Somerville, or hanging out on Friday afternoons in a business school pub. In stadium-style rooms, he learned how to lead, how to market, and how to spot a business opportunity that could appeal to the masses. But he has also used some of those skills to help oversee a website, speak to the angry edges of society, and elect Trump as president. … Several of his fellow students are shocked at the comments they now see attributed to Bannon … But there are also those who say that he had a controlling side that could take over the class. ‘He was wound really tightly,” said one former classmate. … ‘I’ve lost sleep around the fact that he’s so close to the president of the United States.'”

    – Bannon told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that his working-class Richmond roots set him apart from a “cosmopolitan” elite that sees blue-collar people as “just idiots or morons”: “The Bannon children were expected to work,” he said, “and Bannon started by delivering newspapers and mowing lawns before taking on tougher assignments at construction sites and a local junkyard. Mary Beth Meredith, the youngest of the Bannon children … called her brother’s rise ‘an American dream.’ ‘We didn’t belong to country clubs. We didn’t have contacts,’ Meredith said. ‘He’s really a self-made man.’” He told the paper that he promised Trump a 100 percent chance of victory if he stayed focused: “When he was hired by the campaign in August, Bannon said he told Trump he had a ‘100 percent chance to win’ if he could execute, because Trump had ‘completely articulated what the country’s problems were.’”

    TRUMP’S GOVERNMENT:

    – Jenna Johnson has compiled a list of 282 promises that Trump made during the campaign.

    – “Trump could open door to expanding D.C. school voucher program,” by Emma Brown and Perry Stein: “The District is home to the nation’s only federally funded school voucher program, and for the past eight years, advocates for the program have been on defense, fighting to keep it alive under a president who opposes the notion of using taxpayer dollars to pay tuition at private and religious schools. But then Trump, voucher supporter, was elected president. Trump’s nominee (for Education secretary), Michigan billionaire and conservative activist Betsy DeVos, has quietly helped introduce vouchers in many states nationwide, spending millions of dollars to support candidates who agree with her and to unseat those who do not. The prospect of an expanded voucher program is not a welcome one among the District’s elected officials, who chafe as Congress … passes laws that shape the landscape of city education. Many also are ideologically opposed and worry that an expanded voucher program could threaten the progress and growth of the city’s traditional public and public charter schools.”

    – Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said Trump offered him the job of Education secretary first, but he turned it down when the president-elect asked for a four-to-six year commitment. (Valerie Strauss)

    – Paul Manafort is in regular contact with Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, Bloomberg Businessweek’s  Robert Kolker reports: “Manafort and Sessions have known each other since the ’70s. And Manafort is also close with Tom Barrack, the billionaire founder of Colony Capital, who has a spot at the top of Trump’s inaugural committee. Friends say Manafort wouldn’t want to become a lobbyist again or to have a concrete role with the administration; that would be too confining. But the Washington that Trump’s team will govern in is a place Manafort understands and had a strong hand in shaping. It’s a matter of time, perhaps, before his particular set of skills will be put to use again. And given the Trump team’s apparent warmth toward Russia, there should be plenty for the King of K Street to do—and plenty of money to be made doing it.”

    – In case you missed it over the holidays, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross is expected to be named as commerce secretary. (Jerry Markon, Karen Tumulty and Karoun Demirjian)

    • Trump also named former campaign lawyer and hardline libertarian Donald F. McGahn as White House Counsel, bringing onboard the former FEC member and Reagan official to be his official legal adviser.
    • Fox News analyst Kathleen “KT” McFarland will serve as deputy national security adviser under Michael Flynn.

    – Some members of the transition team were planning to pivot to economic policy appointments this week, focusing on such departments as Commerce and Treasury. But the internal debates will likely force Trump in the short term to keep his focus on his national-security team, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Damian Paletta. “Mr. Trump has interviewed for—but not filled—the defense secretary post, saying he is seriously considering retired Gen. James Mattis. … The Trump team has also signaled, but not closed the deal, on the appointment of Adm. Michael Rogers as the director of national intelligence, the nation’s top spy. And there has been little public discussion about who may head of the Department of Homeland Security.”

    WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

    If you read one thing –> “Family of San Bernardino shooters seeks custody of their orphaned daughter,” by Eli Saslow: “The clothing rack was filled with dozens of outfits that had been recovered from Farook and Malik’s apartment. At the same time that Farook and Malik had been stockpiling thousands of rounds of ammunition, they had also been assembling a future wardrobe for the child they did not plan to raise. Now that baby had become a toddler who was just beginning to walk …. [and] Saira, who was Farook’s older sister, had spent 11 months trying to adopt her niece. … [As she read the sizes on the clothes, she asked:] ‘What kind of parent makes plans to abandon their child? How were they capable of something like that and we didn’t know?’ … They had spent the past year trying to make sense of a shooting in which there were still so many unanswered questions. … Maybe caring for their niece, Saira thought, would restore some small bit of order not only to the baby’s life, but also to their own.”

    – “As Trump prepares for office, concerns about China trade reach a crescendo,” by Simon Denyer: “Trump has threatened to declare China a currency manipulator, but experts say he has little legal or economic basis … He has also threatened to impose a tariff of up to 45 percent on Chinese imports if Beijing doesn’t ‘behave.’ … Yet he is not alone in sounding the alarm about unfair competition and a playing field sharply tilted in China’s favor. The American Chamber of Commerce in China … complained this month about a rise in protectionism and ‘economic hegemony,’ with doors closing to foreign investment, regulations biased against foreign companies, and new national security-related laws breeding ‘distrust and paranoia.’ Chinese companies are also engaged in a state-sponsored buying spree of foreign companies, diplomats and experts say, in sectors identified by the government as key to an industrial modernization strategy known as Made in China 2025.”

    FIDEL FALLOUT, DAY 3:

    Our Nick Miroff files from Havana: “Fidel Castro once called George W. Bush a ‘functional illiterate.’ President Ronald Reagan was ‘the worst terrorist in the history of mankind. Castro thrived on confrontation with U.S. leaders, and he almost surely would have enjoyed facing off against America’s next one. But brinkmanship and barb-throwing are not the forte of his successor … If tensions between Cuba and the United States ratchet up again under a Trump presidency, it would be a new stress test for Raúl Castro and his quieter, more austere leadership style. Cuba will enter the Trump era with Fidel Castro’s one-party socialist state firmly in command but without the supercharged politics and nationalist fervor he relied on to sustain it. … Then again, Cuban national pride remains a powerful force on the island, and nothing stirs it like a perceived threat from a swaggering American leader, said former Cuban intelligence analyst [Arturo Lopez-Levy]. Intense Cuban nationalism ‘preceded Fidel,’ he said, ‘and it will survive as a major actor in Cuban politics well beyond his passing.'” 

    – “In Florida, Hard-Liners on Cuba See Chance for Policy Shift,” by the Wall Street Journal’s Arian Campo-Flores and Cameron McWhirter: “Aging Cuban-American hard-liners [have] steadily lost influence over the years as many died and newer generations that are more conciliatory gained in number. But with Mr. Castro’s death and the election of Mr. Trump—who carried Florida with the help of Cuban-American conservatives and seemed to align himself with their uncompromising posture toward the island—Cuban-American hard-liners are experiencing a resurgence. Some see the passing of the Fidel era as a chance to engage the island. Yet the hard-liners could pressure Mr. Trump to return to policies aimed at isolating it—such as closing off diplomatic channels to President Raúl Castro and rolling back Mr. Obama’s loosening of travel restrictions for Americans wanting to visit the island.”

    Marco Rubio said Trump’s Cuba policies should “pave the way for democracy”: “Our goal is the national security and national interests of the United States and, as part of that, to do everything possible through our foreign policy towards Cuba to incentivize and pave the way … move toward democracy,” the son of Cuban immigrants said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If there’s a policy that helps that, it remains in place. And if it’s a policy that doesn’t, it’s removed. And that’s what I would encourage them to do.”

    AMERICA, DIVIDED:

    – Three mosques in California received a letter that called Muslims “children of Satan” and said Trump will do to them what Hitler “did to the Jews.” (Kristine Guerra)

    – The daughter of a Newtown massacre victim demanded that Trump denounce conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who maintains that the Sandy Hook shooting never happened: “A quick Google search for the phrase ‘Sandy Hook truthers’ will turn up thousands of stories about how the worst day of my life was actually an elaborate conspiracy that never happened at all … It’s insanity,” she wrote in a USA Today op-ed. “President-elect Trump will face the same kinds of tragedies President Obama has lived through,” she said. “He’ll need to visit with the brokenhearted, and he’ll need to prove he’s the kind of man — and president — who can represent us all.” (Travis M. Andrews)

    – A family of Cleveland “doomsday preppers” that hoarded an arsenal of machetes, grenades and body armor may have been ready for an attack by the government – but apparently not from burglars who slunk through an open side door. The robbers stole five shotguns, a high-powered rifle, 12 machetes and a weapon that looks like a sniper rifle and can pierce through the exterior of an automobile. (Travis M. Andrews)

    – A West Virginia man charged with fatally shooting a black 16-year-old said he “removed a piece of trash from the streets.” (Lindsey Bever)

    – Across the nation, sanctuary cities are gearing up to oppose Trump if he follows through on his promise to deport millions of illegal immigrants. From Jennifer Medina and Jess Bidgood in the New York Times: “In doing so, municipal officials risk losing millions of dollars in federal assistance. … Some believe Mr. Trump could go further than simply pulling federal funding, perhaps fighting such policies in court or even prosecuting city leaders. ‘This is uncharted territory in some ways, to see if they’re just playing chicken, or see if they will relent,’ said Jessica Vaughan [of the Center for Immigration Studies]. … The fight could also signal a twist in the struggle over the power of the federal government, as this time liberal cities — rather than conservative states — resist what they see as federal intervention.” “Cities may not have the power to give people rights,” said NYU Law’s Muzaffar Chishti. “But they have a lot of power of resistance, and that’s what they’re displaying right now.”

    – “The urban-rural divide that bolstered Trump isn’t just an American thing; it’s prevalent in Europe, too,” by Rick Noack in London: “What shaped European politics over the past two years might appear to some like a revolution of rural Europe rising up against the establishment and economic winners. Support for Britain leaving the European Union was highest in rural areas in the June referendum. It is also ‘rural France’ that might empower far-right politician Marine Le Pen next year.  Even in federal republics like Germany, which lack the dominance of one single capital city, an urban-rural disconnect is increasingly visible. … That sense of abandonment — the same sentiment that won over Midwest voters to support [Trump] — overwhelmed the advice of most of Britain’s economic experts and nearly all of the country’s leading politicians during this year’s European Union referendum. …To those who have stayed in rural areas, a feeling of being left behind has replaced the pride of having grown up outside big cities and away from all the problems that are associated with them.”

    SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

    Mitt Romney, who has been pretty quiet on Twitter for the past year, posted a picture last night of himself playing in the tide pools by his La Jolla home as Conway engaged with critics about whether he’s a good pick for Foggy Bottom:

    Twitter was dominated by commentary about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud:

    From the Upshot:

    The editor of The Weekly Standard:

    From the independent presidential candidate who Kristol supported:

    Former Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson:

    In the wake of Trump’s tweet, this headline from CBS drew criticism:

    For example:

    Castro was a totalitarian who relentlessly repressed anyone who dared speak out against him and his regime. But many liberals celebrated him, including Jill Stein:

    Obama’s statement was measured:

    Justin Trudeau’s perplexingly warm comments about Castro — see below — were widely criticized

    Many of the complaints came from the right:

    The hashtag #TrudeauEulogies was trending on Twitter. Some examples:

    In transition news, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) claimed he’s being considered for secretary of state:

    Tim Kaine is back on Instagram for the first time since the election:

    Ivanka Trump posted this photo from her family’s Thanksgiving:

    Lots of turkey preparation photos from political types:

    Now it’s time for Christmas:

    Including at the White House:

    By the way, how long has it been since Trump held a press conference? Here’s a reminder:

    HOT ON THE LEFT

    “UNC Professor Gets Away With Harassing LGBTQ Students,” from the Daily Beast: “The first time Nada Merghani discovered Professor Mike Adams, it was because she was reading his Facebook post about her. ‘The only thing more disgusting than a jihadist Muslim is a pro-choice Muslim,’ Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, wrote in April 2015. Merghani was just a 17-year-old freshman, and said she had never spoken to Adams before. The self-described ‘black Queer Muslim’ and Sudanese refugee said the post was just the beginning of what she says became a relentless period of harassment from Adams and his followers for the next year until she left the school in November.

     

    HOT ON THE RIGHT

    Keith Ellison Once Proposed Making A Separate Country For Blacks,” from the Daily Caller: “Some newly discovered columns shed light on the shocking views expressed by one of the Democrat’s favorite politicians. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, now in the running to be DNC Chair, has attracted the support of Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Harry Reid. Many think that Ellison, an African-American Muslim, would make a powerful statement leading the DNC. The Daily Caller News Foundation did some digging to find the columns written in the Minnesota Daily under the pen name ‘Keith E. Hakim.’  Over four columns, ‘Hakim’ advocates cash reparations paid from whites to blacks, calls the Constitution the ‘best evidence of a white racist conspiracy to subjugate other peoples,’ and proposes making a separate country for black people. The first column, published on November 1, 1989, is titled ‘African-Americans are best equipped for fighting drugs.’”

     

    DAYBOOK:

    In Trump’s world: Back in New York City, Trump meets with John Allison, formerly of BB&T Corp.; former SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins; Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke; Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt; General Growth Properties Chief Executive Sandeep Mathrani; Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Kathleen White; World Wide Technology CEO David Steward; and Rep. Lou Barletta (Pa.).

    At the White House: Obama has no public events scheduled.

    On Capitol Hill: No votes are expected in the Senate or House.

     

    NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

    – Another chilly day ahead, but with some (much needed) showers on the radar for this evening. Today’s Capital Weather Gang forecast: “The day gets off to a cold but sunny start. Weak flow from the south draws in some milder air and highs should reach the mid-50s this afternoon as some highs clouds begin filtering into the region.”

    – Police are searching for a man who assaulted and attempted to rape a woman at knife point in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Northwest. The woman said she was injured as she attempted to flee the scene. (Faiz Siddiqui)

    – A 16-year-old girl was gunned down on Friday while visiting family for Thanksgiving. Police believe she was an unintended target in the gunfire, which occurred in Southeast near Capitol Hill. (Faiz Siddiqui)

    VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

    Seth Meyers looked at Trump’s potential conflicts of interest:

    And his foreign business ties:

    Katy Tur described what it was like covering Trump’s campaign:

    Andrew Lloyd Webber talked about what it’s like to know Trump:

    The rapper Q-Tip talked with Bloomberg about Kanye West saying he would have voted for Trump if he’d actually voted:

    Lin-Manuel Miranda gave this interview after the premiere of the film Moana, for which he composed the music:

    In case you missed it, here’s Obama pardoning his last turkeys as president:

    And Michelle Obama welcoming her last White House Christmas tree:

    Finally, the National Zoo’s youngest panda, Bei Bei, underwent emergency surgery — don’t worry, though, because he’s fine!

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