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270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
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Booker to Testify Against Sessions

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump's attorney general-designate, will begin his confirmation hearings today. And among those who will be called to testify against him is Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). This will mark the first time in U.S. history that a sitting senator has testified against another sitting senator during confirmation hearings for a Cabinet post. Said Booker:

I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague. But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) will also testify against Sessions.

Booker's move will presumably endear him to the Senate Democratic Caucus, while making him persona non grata among the Republicans. It will also be a nice selling point for a future presidential run, which is likely in the cards. Meanwhile, it's an early sign that maybe the Democrats are embracing the type of hardball politics that they've generally shied away from in the past few decades. (Z)

Jared Kushner to Be Named Senior Adviser to the President

President-elect Donald Trump wants his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to be an unpaid senior adviser with his areas of advice being the Middle East and trade. To get around conflict-of-interest laws, Kushner is planning to divest himself of many positions and assets. His lawyer, Jamie Gorelick of WilmerHale, said yesterday that Kushner will file the same financial disclosure form that cabinet members do.

She also said that Kushner would resign from all board positions, trusteeships, and partnerships that he holds. In addition, he will sell all his common stock, his newspaper, and 35 other investments, including all his foreign investments. Many of the assets will be sold to a trust of which his mother, Seryl, is the trustee. Kushner is not a beneficiary of the trust. He will also resign as manager or signatory of 40 Kushner company entities. His wife, Ivanka Trump, will also divest herself of all director and management positions as well as all of her common stock. Many people expect Ivanka to be the de facto first lady, while Trump's actual wife, Melania, remains in New York. Ivanka, who has a degree from the Wharton School in economics, is used to dealing with movers and shakers; Melania, not so much.

Finally, and this may be the most difficult of all to verify, Kushner will recuse himself from all discussions relating to Dodd-Frank and regulation of financial services. In theory, if he is in the Oval Office talking to his father-in-law the president, and The Donald asks what Kushner thinks about the administration's plan to modify or repeal Dodd-Frank, Kushner is expected to say: "I can't give you advice on that." But unless Nixon's taping system is still running, there will be no record of Oval Office conversations. (V)

Kushner: Trump Didn't Really Believe Conspiracy Theories

A new profile of Jared Kushner, done without his direct participation, reveals that he's been telling skittish associates that his father-in-law never really believed in birtherism and the various other conspiracy theories he espoused. "People say (Trump) is unhinged," Kushner reportedly said. "I think he unhinged everyone else."

One is left to wonder if the members of Team Trump don't think about the implications of their words, or if they simply don't care. Assuming Kushner's words are being represented accurately, and assuming he's correct (both assumptions seem pretty reasonable), then he's telling us that Donald Trump carried on a lie, very convincingly and without remorse, for several years. That in turn raises the question of when and how we can be certain that Trump is telling the truth about, well, anything. It's much like the old joke about how you can tell when a politician (or a lawyer) is lying: His lips are moving. Trump and his associates have made clear, over and over, that you can never be certain that the President-elect is telling the truth, which means that everything he says must necessarily be viewed with skepticism. This is not bias, nor is it "unfair," it's merely learning the lesson of The Donald who cried wolf. (Z)

What Can Trump Do on His First Day in Office?

In 10 days, Donald Trump will take the oath of office and sit down in the Oval Office as President of the United States. He has made many campaign promises about what he will do on his first day. Some of them are doable and some are not. The Hill has compiled a list of what he could actually do on day one. Here is a summary:

  • Immigration: Many of Trump's biggest promises relate to immigration. He said he is going to build a wall on the Mexican border and get Mexico to pay for it. He was originally going to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants, but later changed the number to 2 million. During the campaign, he said: "We will begin moving them out day one. Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone." By 1 p.m. on January 20th, we will know if they have all vanished. This seems unlikely, though. What he could do on day one is rescind President Obama's executive order allowing 700,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to remain legally. He could also issue executive orders telling sanctuary cities to help round up undocumented immigrants and turn them over to federal authorities. It is extremely unlikely that any of the cities would comply, and the issue would ultimately end up in the Supreme Court in a few years.

  • Environment: Trump promised to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines on his first day in office. He could also repeal President Obama's executive orders that put restrictions on what oil and coal companies can do. He could overturn Obama's policies that federal agencies reduce their greenhouse emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change. Other things Trump wants to do, including changing rules on clean energy, water, fracking, and oil drilling, will take a little longer.

  • Lobbying: Part of Trump's promise to "drain the swamp" relates to lobbying. One pet project is to ban any of his political appointees from becoming a registered lobbyist for five years after leaving public office. It wouldn't be hard for him to pull this off, but it would have almost no effect. Any member of his administration who left would be free to work for a lobbying firm as a "consultant" or "manager" rather than as a registered lobbyist. Several people who worked on his campaign or transition team are already hard at work as lobbyists, and would presumably not be affected by the ban, which has not yet come into effect.

  • Trade: Here is an area where Trump could really do something significant on day one. He could announce that the U.S. is pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He could also announce that he wants to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement. To put teeth in that, he could formally announce that the U.S. was withdrawing from NAFTA in 6 months, as provided for by the treaty. That would give him 6 months to negotiate a new treaty. He also wants to put tariffs on the goods that U.S. companies make abroad and then import into the U.S., but tariffs require congressional approval and that may not forthcoming because affected companies are sure to mention the subject to members of Congress.

  • Healthcare: While most of the heavy lifting on repealing the ACA has to be done by Congress, there are a few things Trump could do to help out. President Obama signed an executive order allowing state insurance commissioners to temporarily permit healthcare plans that didn't meet the ACA standards. Trump could greatly expand that order, allowing more non-compliant plans to flood the market. He could also reverse the requirement that plans cover contraception. Conservatives would see that as a major victory, until they saw the number of abortions being performed skyrocket later this year. He could also cancel some of the payments that low-income enrollees get to cover their deductibles, something the insurance companies would vigorously oppose. He could take aim at payments from the states to Planned Parenthood.

So, there is quite a bit he could actually do on day one. Whether he is organized enough to actually do these things remains to be seen, though. (V)

McConnell: Trump's Hopes on Russia "Will Be Dashed Pretty Quickly"

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump declared that anyone who does not favor warmer relations with Russia is "stupid." Well, it would seem that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a fool, then, because he says that, "The Russians are clearly a big adversary, and they demonstrated it by trying to mess around in our election." McConnell also observes that Trump's cabinet is going to be filled with people who know that the Russians "are not our friends," and he predicts that The Donald's hopes for getting along with Russia "will be dashed pretty quickly." It's a somewhat friendly—but still very clear—warning from the President-elect's friends at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Now, it will be the job of Reince Priebus and Jared Kushner to try and see that he heeds it.

But that may not be so easy because we don't know why Trump has become a Russophile. Trump has never exhibited any interest in foreign policy per se. His only interest is in his brand and his businesses. It is entirely possible that Trump had trouble borrowing money after his four bankruptcies and no U.S. banks would give him anything, so he went to Russia and borrowed a lot of Russian money. His Russia-friendly statements may be an attempt to curry favor with the Russians, get more loans, have the Russians forgive his existing loans, or something similar. If that is the case, no pleading from Priebus or Kushner to see Russia as an adversary is going to make any difference. (Z & V)

Anti-Trump Movement Will Operate in California and New York

While Republicans have almost all the power at the national level (all Democrats have is the Senate filibuster), and most of the power at the state level (the trifecta in 25 states), they don't have it in all states. In particular, in California, Democrats control state government and are planning to use that power to the hilt to oppose President-elect Donald Trump and his programs. Specifically, the state legislature has just hired former attorney general Eric Holder for the purpose of suing the federal government on changes in laws or regulations that harm the people of California. With the federal government planning to crack down on immigrants and California brimming with immigrants, a showdown is inevitable. California's new attorney general, Xavier Becerra, a former member of the House, is also going to be a key player opposing Trump.

Across the country, the big gun is Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He already battled Trump over Trump University (and won). Since Trump is based in New York, Schneiderman has power to sue him on many issues, such as his foundation, and is virtually certain to do so. Schneiderman is running for reelection in 2018, and knows very well that an aggressive stance against Trump will greatly enhance his reelection prospects in very blue New York. He likely also has his eye on bigger plums in the future—the governor's mansion, maybe, or Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) seat when he retires.

While California and New York are going to be the centers of opposition to Trump, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon, and Rhode Island are also under complete Democratic control and are likely to cause trouble for Trump as well. Delaware and Rhode Island are small states, but their attorneys general are just as capable of filing lawsuits as Becerra and Schneiderman. The concept of federalism is going to get a real test in the next 4 years. (V)

Trump Fires Back at Streep

As we and every other website in the known universe reported yesterday, actress Meryl Streep had a few choice thoughts about Donald Trump that she chose to share at Sunday night's Golden Globes ceremony, lamenting in particular his tendency toward violence, his hostility to both immigrants and to the media, and his mockery of a disabled reporter. The response from Trump Tower was so inevitable and so predictable that people on Twitter began writing it hours before it actually came. "Can't wait for Donald Trump to tweet about how Meryl Streep is overrated," said one. "Terrible Speech! Overrated!" guessed another. "Dishonest Meryl Streep never was good at the acting thing! Sad." wrote a third.

So, how did these prognosticators do? Well, here are Trump's actual tweets, filed (as is so often the case) at 3:30 in the morning:

Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never "mocked" a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him "groveling" when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

In other words, the guesses were pretty much spot on.

Trump tries out a new spin on his now-infamous mockery of Serge F. Kovaleski every month or so, and this one is no more credible than the others. Meanwhile, Trump continues to demonstrate his strong adherence to the principle that there's no such thing as bad publicity. It will be interesting to see if his advisers ever manage to persuade him that by tweeting back at his detractors, all he really does is make certain that their criticisms dominate two news cycles instead of just one. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan09 Cabinet Confirmation Hearings Will Start This Week
Jan09 Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Jan09 Unpaid Trump Advisors May Also Have Conflicts of Interest
Jan09 McConnell: Repeal of the ACA Will Begin This Week
Jan09 Toll Roads Are Coming
Jan09 Golden Globes Turns into the Anti-Trump Show
Jan09 Trump to Inaugural Announcer: You're Fired
Jan08 Trump Insiders Dive into the Swamp
Jan08 Trump: Only Stupid People Oppose a Good Relationship with Russia
Jan08 Sessions Not a Civil Rights Activist, After All
Jan08 Cabinet Nominees May Be Confirmed Before Ethics Reviews Are Finished
Jan08 Kushner Has His Own Conflicts of Interest
Jan08 Monica Crowley Plagiarized Large Parts of Her Book
Jan08 A New Era of Muckraking is Upon Us
Jan08 Get Ready for More Bathroom Bills, Other Anti-LGBT Legislation
Jan07 Putin Ordered Russian Hacking to Help Trump
Jan07 Donald Trump is Elected President
Jan07 Fourth GOP Senator Won't Vote for Repealing the ACA without a Replacement
Jan07 Obamacare Repeal Could Cost 3 Million Jobs
Jan07 Trump Slams Toyota
Jan07 Trump Slams Schwarzenegger
Jan07 "Mad Dog" Mattis is Mad
Jan07 Trump Favorite Is Elected Ohio State GOP Chairwoman
Jan06 Voter Fraud May Have Occurred--in the Electoral College
Jan06 U.S. Intelligence Has Conclusive Evidence that the Russians Hacked the DNC
Jan06 Dan Coats to Be Director of National Intelligence
Jan06 Another Campaign Promise Looks Ready to Bite the Dust
Jan06 Everyone Owns a Piece of Trump
Jan06 Can Trump Tweet Congress into Submission?
Jan06 Cotton Also Wants Obamacare Replacement in Place
Jan06 Republicans Want to Rein in Liberal Cities
Jan06 Former Congressional Staffers Create Guide for Resisting Trump
Jan05 Rand Paul Won't Vote for ACA Repeal and Delay
Jan05 Obama Strategizes with Democrats
Jan05 Barack Obama: Another John Quincy Adams?
Jan05 Trump's Tax Policies Would Be a Windfall for Him
Jan05 What Will Trump's Biggest Test Be in 2017?
Jan05 Trump Turns to Assange to Bolster His Case
Jan05 Wall Street Lawyer to Oversee Wall Street
Jan05 Tillerson's Retirement Package: $180,000,000
Jan04 Oops! House Reverses Ethics Decision
Jan04 Trump Blasts Intelligence Agencies
Jan04 Obama to Transfer Gitmo Detainees
Jan04 McConnell Is the Dog that Caught the Car
Jan04 House Adopts Anti-Sit-in Rule
Jan04 Trump Is Already Working on His Second Supreme Court Appointment
Jan04 Bushes, Clintons to Attend Inauguration
Jan04 Schumer Will Be Very Different from Reid as Senate Minority Leader
Jan04 Megyn Kelly Jumps to NBC
Jan03 Pence Will Meet with House Republicans Today