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On the roster: Trump does cost-benefit analysis - Substitutions: Trump, Pence to meet on cabinet posts as Carson is a likely no - Trump insiders try to block Lewandowski’s return - Audible: Man with a plan - Talk about a tough transition
TRUMP DOES COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS
Donald Trump’s incipient administration clarified to reporters that a request about obtaining top-level security clearance for his children and son-in-law did not come from president-elect himself.
A transition spokesperson told the press that it was not something Trump was “expecting right now.” Given the unhappy surprise with which the initial news was met, Trump may decide to continue to delay such expectations.
But given the unique role that children, Donald, Eric and Ivanka as well as son-in-law Jared Kushner, stand to play in the life of the republic, some further steps will have to be taken.
The situation is made more complicated by the fact that rather than putting his assets in a blind trust, as his predecessors have done, Trump is handing over control of his business to his children. It’s understandable, given that Trump could hardly be expected to liquidate assets the value of which neither he nor his family could ever recover.
Trump’s predecessors have, in keeping with ethics rules, handed their portfolios over to trustees who liquidate the assets and reinvest them without informing the president-elect of their placement. Since that’s quite impossible for someone whose major asset is a business he is running, some latitude for Trump here is due.
That latitude, though, is further complicated by the fact that he wants to make his children part of forming his government, having named them as members of his transition team. If the Trump children are privy to the decisions of the government of the United States, it would be hard for them to resist profiting personally form their knowledge, especially given the amount of international business they do.
There has been much discussion of the nepotism restrictions that would prevent or make difficult Trump’s placing his children in federal service. But that’s a rabbit hole. First, he probably could if he wanted to. Second, if he did so, they couldn’t run his business, thereby defeating the purpose of the, ahem, sighted trust.
The real issue for Trump and his family is about keeping their business and government roles separate, and not doing what they accused the Clintons of: profiteering on public service. As the NYT highlights today, this is no easy task given the complex relationships on which the Trump business is based.
The challenge for the president-elect is how to prioritize his interests.
The business empire that he nurtured through boom and bust and boom again, is no doubt very important to him. But also important to him is the advice and insights of his offspring who helped him navigate the rocky shoals of a presidential run. As Hillary Clinton learned, voters tend to be intolerant of fudge factor when it comes to an official’s public service and private income.
The lesson here on security clearance is the same as the ongoing saga unfolding around the service of Steve Bannon as White House consigliere. Almost every pick a president makes comes with hassles. The goal is to make sure that what you get for the choice is worth the hassles.
When George W. Bush brought Karl Rove into his White House, Democrats hounded the Texans and never stopped until Rove left the government, and not really even then. Was Rove’s advice and presence worth it? The results of the 2004 election suggest that it probably was.
Democrats will find plenty to complain about with Trump, even if he were the apotheosis of presidential perfection. But his goal ought to be to give them as few tools as possible to make their case and that what he pays in terms of hassles is always commensurate with the benefits he – and the country – obtain.
THE RULEBOOK: WHOLLY UNIQUE
“The experience of other nations will afford little instruction on this head.”–Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 70, discussing how to model the executive.
TIME OUT: A HAPPY ACCIDENT
Atlas Obscura: “The story of the cheese curl is one of the more unusual creation stories in snack-food history, starting, of course, in Wisconsin, an agricultural hub that has given us a lot of food innovations over the years… [Flakall Corporation’s] approach to producing animal feed was to put the material through a grinder…and [the grinder] periodically required cleaning to ensure it wouldn’t clog. One strategy that Flakall workers used was to put moistened corn into the grinder. During this process, however, something unusual happened: the moist corn ran directly into the heat of the machine, and when it exited the grinder, it didn’t flake out anymore—it puffed up, like popcorn…Edward Wilson, an observant Flakall employee, saw these puffs come out of the machine, and decided to take those puffs home, season them up, and turn them into an edible snack for humans—a snack he called Korn Kurls. You’re noshing, in other words, on repurposed animal feed.”
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SUBSTITUTIONS: TRUMP, PENCE TO MEET ON CABINET POSTS AS CARSON IS A LIKELY NO
WaPo: “President-elect Donald Trump prepared on Tuesday to meet with incoming Vice President Mike Pence to discuss Cabinet selections amid continued uncertainty over who will fill key positions and growing acrimony between Trump advisers and some key Republicans. In one surprising development, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has been a confidant to Trump since the end of the Republican primaries, is unlikely to join the administration but will remain an informal adviser. ‘The way I’m leaning is to work from the outside and not from the inside,’ Carson said in an interview Tuesday. ‘I want to have the freedom to work on many issues and not be pigeonholed into one particular area.’”
Giuliani, Sessions and Bolton still jockeying for top spots - Fox News: “Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the favorite to be secretary of state in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, a senior Trump transition official said Monday. The official told the Associated Press there was no real competition for the job and that it was Giuliani’s if he wanted it. However, a second official cautioned that John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, remained in contention for the job. A senior source told Fox News that Giuliani was being considered for the secretary of state job, but said the choice was not locked in. The source added that Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., one of Trump’s earliest Washington supporters, was getting a lot of say in the selection of officeholders. Giuliani, a top Trump surrogate, said he ‘won’t be attorney general’ in a Trump administration at a Washington event sponsored by the Wall Street Journal…Giuliani said he thought Bolton ‘would be a very good choice’ for secretary of state. But asked if there was anyone better, he replied with a mischievous smile: ‘Maybe me, I don’t know.’”
[Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says picking Bolton would be “breaking that promise” of changing our “disastrous” foreign policy platform.]
Trump insiders try to block Lewandowski’s return - Politico: “Some of Donald Trump’s key loyalists are quietly lining up in opposition to the prospect of tapping the president-elect’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for a key role, according to about a dozen Trump allies and other influential Republicans. They are warning that Lewandowski’s penchant for bitter in-fighting and aggressive behavior — combined with his contentious relationships with Trump’s family and close confidants — could poison Trump’s nascent operation before it even gets off the ground.”
And what about Comey? - NPR: “Advisers to President-elect Donald Trump are considering whether to retain FBI Director James Comey after the agency became an issue in one of the most divisive campaigns in modern history, three sources told NPR. Comey has nearly seven years left to serve in his 10-year term. The FBI director’s position extends beyond the term of any single president to help insulate the bureau from political forces as it pursues sensitive criminal and national security investigations.”
Trump, Putin discuss future plans - WaPo: “President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a telephone conversation Monday that relations between their countries were “unsatisfactory” and vowed to work together to improve them, the Kremlin said in a statement. The statement said the two leaders discussed combining efforts in the fight against terrorism, talked about ‘a settlement for the crisis in Syria’ and agreed their aides would begin working toward a face-to-face meeting between them. Trump’s office said in a statement that Putin had called to “offer his congratulations” and that the two had discussed “a range of issues including the threats and challenges facing the United States and Russia, strategic economic issues and the historical U.S.-Russia relationship that dates back over 200 years.”
AUDIBLE: MAN WITH A PLAN
“I want to be the general planner.” – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on “The Kelly File” Monday night explaining what he wants his role to be in the Trump administration.
Obama talks up Trump on European trip - USA Today
Obama says presidency ‘has a way of waking you up’ in first post-election press conference - Time
Ellison the lead candidate to take over DNC - The Hill
And a shortlist is emerging for Priebus’ replacement at the RNC - Politico
Schumer under pressure to add Sanders to Senate leadership team - The Hill
Surveying the wrack and ruin of the Democratic Party - Commentary Magazine
Trump neared 1 billion Facebook interactions last week - USA Today
Deficit on the back burner for Trump, GOP - Politico
Portions of Fifth Avenue may be closed whenever Trump is in NYC - NY Magazine
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., declares 2018 run for governor - [Sioux Falls, S.D.] Argus Leader
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Without getting wrapped up in navel gazing and hubris, how about a little acknowledgement of the inaccuracy of the Halftime Report’s estimates for the likelihood of a Trump election? I recall a tone that indicated, ’don’t get excited kids, because this type of a reversal never happens.’” – Joseph P. Reilly, Scottsdale, Ariz.
[Ed. note: Well, I’m always excited in an election year, no matter who wins. I love this stuff. Now, I certainly did think it was unlikely that Trump would win. Because it was. Unlikely is not the same as impossible. As they say, never is a long time. We don’t do forecasts, per se, since they suggest unrealistic degrees of certainty. But consider: something with a 25 percent chance of happening is unlikely but hardly impossible. You might not bet your life savings on a one in four chance, but you might take your umbrella if they said there was a 25 percent chance of rain. What I find a little confounding now is that some supporters of the winning candidate – not talking about you here, Mr. Reilly – are minimizing the amazing nature of the victory. As a Cardinals devotee, I personally would like for the Cubs to have gone at least another century without winning the World Series. But for their fans, doesn’t the fact that they rallied from a deficit of three games to one in the series make the victory finer? I think a “Hoosiers” marathon is in order for everyone who forgets that the sweetest victories are the most unlikely ones.]
“Your piece on Election Day at the church in West Virginia should be in a book of patriotic poetry. Thanks for the good work that you do.” – Roger Weaver, Westerville, Ohio
[Ed. note: Thank you kindly, Mr. Weaver. Happiness and love grow out of the loamy soil of gratitude. And Lord, I am grateful to be an American.]
“You consistently excluded the IDB and LA Times polls from the poll average because their methodology was suspect. Any chance in 4 years you exclude all the other polls and just average those two? Looking back what did they do different that was right?” – A.L. Brown, Birmingham, Ala.
[Ed. note: The real question here is what makes a poll “right.” Neither of the surveys you mentioned were correct in the sense that they had Trump winning the national vote by 2 points or 3 points. He will end up losing the popular vote by probably something less than 1 point. That would make those polls less predictive than the final Fox News Channel poll that put Hillary Clinton ahead by 3 points. The LAT and IBD polls were “right” in predicting that Trump would indeed win the presidency, but not in the way they described. The real issue to be addressed in presidential polling in four years is on the state level. Smaller populations, lower response rates and looming death of area codes in the cell phone era cause pollsters to rely more heavily on their assumptions based on prior electoral performance. And when voters change teams, as they did in the upper Midwest this year, it makes for embarrassing misses. Wisconsin polling, for example, was an absolute car crash. Pollsters will be looking for a fix but, in all likelihood, it won’t come soon enough – especially for 2018 midterms. Just remember, when you look at polls, pay more attention to the trend than the topline numbers.]
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TALK ABOUT A TOUGH TRANSITION
BBC: “Liberland is only [2.5 sq miles] of uninhabited marshland. But in the mind of Vit Jedlicka, its first president, it’s the fulfilment of the libertarian dream - a land with no compulsory taxes, no gun control, with Bitcoins as currency. In the summer of 2015, he, his girlfriend and a couple of mates planted a flag there. The other three elected him president. Since then, he has signed up nearly half a million would-be citizens online. He has appointed a cabinet and ambassadors-in-waiting worldwide. He has money from crowdfunding and wealthy libertarian donors. He has printed diplomatic passports. Just one problem - neither he nor anyone else has been able to occupy Liberland for over a year. But Croatia didn’t want it…Serbia liked the new borders because it got more territory, even though it had lost Liberland. So, for different reasons, both countries said ‘no thanks’ to this tiny sliver.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Historians are going to see [President Obama] as a textbook definition of a guy who won on hope and change, who won with a wave of good will, and who completely destroyed his presidency with liberal overreach beginning with Obamacare.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.