Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know today:
1. Trump Tweets, Congress Jumps, Ryan Owes PEOTUS a Favor:
It was revealed yesterday that House Republicans had made a deal behind closed doors, and against the advice of the leadership, to strip powers from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). A lot of Republicans and Democrats have been wary of the overzealous nature of the OCE and wanted to bring it under control. However, making it part of a rules package behind closed doors made it look very, very shady.
Enter the President Elect who took to Twitter to tell House Republicans that they should be making government reforms a priority instead of gutting an ethics watchdog. He, of course, ended the tweet with #DTS (Drain the Swamp). Which has become part of Trump’s goal to reform political culture in DC. The provision in the rules package was scrapped.
Take: Paul Ryan owes Trump a thank-you. Sure, maybe OCE needs reforms, but backroom dealing the changes as one of your first acts had terrible optics. Ryan was opposed, but looked like he was just going to give in to his caucus. Then Trump flexed his muscles and saved the House some embarrassment. It also magnifies Trump’s power. He went and just got something done without going through backchannels. He picked up his phone, tweeted, and the problem got resolved.
2. Putin, Assange, a 14-year old, and the President Elect
Donald Trump tweeted this morning that, according to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, a 14-year old could have hacked John Podesta’s emails. Assange also claims that the Russian government had nothing to do with the hacked emails that were given to Wikileaks. Trump is on-board with that analysis, at least for now.
This is one of those sore spots between GOP hawks and the incoming President. Trump has been publicly antagonistic with the United States intelligence community to the chagrin of hard-core neocons in the Party like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
It’s unclear whether Trump is trolling the intelligence community, playing Russia, actually doubting the intelligence community, or simply taking a broader view of the number of possible opinions about the situation. It could be that all of the foregoing are true. However, the most telling of Trump’s comments have been about how the intelligence community and their consensus over Iraq had been wrong and led the nation into a war. It seems like Trump’s relationship with these clandestine forces are rooted in (a probably very healthy) skepticism.
3. Letting the Fox Out: Megyn to NBC
Megyn Kelly, who host the 9pm Kelly File on FoxNews, announced that she was going to leave FoxNews and head for NBC News. The story was broken by the New York Times and later confirmed by Kelly. Kelly has become one of the most cheered, jeered, admired, admonished, and controversial figures at Fox, but has also been a boon to Fox’s ratings.
Kelly had made no secret of the fact that she was looking to go elsewhere with early reports last month noting that Zucker at CNN had made a play to get Kelly to switch to the rival network.
Kelly, famously, had a feud with Donald Trump during the primaries and even into the general election with some very tense moments. Kelly won widespread support from members of the media while simultaneously drawing significant fire from supporters of Mr. Trump. However, the feud helped to raise Kelly’s profile (and, in some respects, kept media sources talking about Mr. Trump while the Republican primary field remained a crowded race).
Kelly will be an immediate presence at NBC with an apparent contract giving her a daily television show as well as constant screen time during major political events. The move has been celebrated by Kelly’s critics on Twitter, but she has also gotten praise for moving stations.
4. A New Congress, Old Debates
The 115th Congress was sworn in yesterday. In the Senate, there were some concerns that there was a “golden moment” when President Obama could force through the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court (though the legality and the Constitutionality were hotly debated online). No such fireworks took place.
One of the first debates in the House of Representatives swirled around a provision in the Rules Package (that gets adopted when the House meets to govern the members) that would allow the Sergeant-at-Arms to levy fines against members breaking rules in the House, most notably, the provision that prevents live-streaming/photography on the House floor. This is contentious because it is directly aimed at Democrats who petulantly staged a protest on the House floor over a gun control bill last June. When C-SPAN’s cameras shut off (which is what happens when the House is not in session), members live-streamed their sit-in. Speaker Ryan wants no repeat of this breach of decorum.
The Democrats claim that Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution would require the House to vote to censure its members and does not allow that power to be delegated to the Sergeant-at-Arms. They contend it has a chilling effect on free speech.
In the end, it’s all politics on the first day back in session. Democrats had claimed during the sit-in that they’d stay there until there was a bill on gun violence. There wasn’t, but, after they got their photo-op, they just claimed victory and moved along (and raised a bunch of money off of it).
There are, of course, a lot of other things happening in the world, but these are four that give you some sense of what’s up and what folks are talking about. Be sure to check back for more.