- Trump on the 'lock her up' chant: 'Now we don't care'
(Politics - December 10 2016 - 6:14 AM:)<>
The crowd at President-elect Donald Trump's victory rally on Friday night started up a familiar chant: "Lock her up." The chant was a staple of his raucous election campaign, targeting his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
When the audience revived the chant in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Friday night — more than one month after Trump won the election — the president-elect said, "That plays great before the election — now we don't care, right?"
Trump during his campaign repeatedly vowed to seek criminal prosecution against Clinton for her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
During one fiery exchange at the second presidential debate in October, Trump said if he were elected, he would appoint a special prosecutor to look into Clinton, telling her "You'd be in jail," if he was in the White House.
The next day, when a crowd at one of his rallies began chanting "lock her up," Trump declared "Special prosecutor, here we come."
Two weeks after the election, Trump reversed his position, saying investigating Clinton was "just not something that I feel very strongly about" and "I don't want to hurt the Clintons, I really don't."
Watch Trump say "Now we don't care":
- The top Senate Republican had a defiant response to intelligence on Russia's alleged involvement in the election
(Politics - December 10 2016 - 4:44 AM:)<>
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raised doubts about intelligence pointing to Russia trying to help President-elect Donald Trump win the election.
In a confidential briefing, McConnell reportedly expressed doubt about intelligence findings that Russia aided efforts to boost Trump, ostensibly by promoting hacked emails and documents that were damaging to the Democratic Party and its nominee, Hillary Clinton.
The Washington Post reported McConnell, who attended the briefing in September, "voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence."
Citing several unnamed officials, The Post wrote that McConnell threatened to rebuke the Obama administration if it publicly challenged Russia.
Trump hired McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, as secretary of transportation after the election. Chao ran the Labor Department in the George W. Bush administration.
The appointment requires congressional approval. McConnell has rejected calls to recuse himself from the confirmation process.
- Trump could make good on his defense spending promise in his first 100 days
(Politics - December 10 2016 - 4:17 AM:)<>
Barely one week after a blockbuster Washington Post investigationrevealed that the Pentagon had suppressed a report identifying $125 billion in wasteful spending, Congress has passed the new National Defense Authorization Act, directing a fresh $619 billion to the Department of Defense. The bill, which sailed through both Houses of Congress with large, veto-proof majorities after having some controversial elements removed, now heads to President Obama’s desk.
Covering military expenditures through the beginning of the first term of President-elect Donald Trump, the bill looks like a down payment on his promise to increase the size and capabilities of the military. The bill rolls back planned troops reductions, increasing the Army’s end strength by 16,000 troops and the Marine Corps by 3,000. It also provides a 2.1 percent pay raise for members of the armed forces effective January 1.
The bill also bars the Defense Department from closing any military bases, despite the fact that the leadership in the Pentagon has told lawmakers that it has excess capacity.
The $619 billion figure represents a $3.2 billion increase in spending that is not matched by a similar increase in non-defense spending, something that recent budget compromises between President Obama and Republicans in Congress have typically required under the Budget Control Act of 2011. Congress will still be required to pass an appropriations bill detailing the way the Pentagon will be directed to spend much of the money the NDAA allocates.
The total price tag for national defense is only expected to rise in 2017. Lawmakers left funding for some major programs out of the proposal, including multiple upgrades to the Navy’s fleet and the purchase of dozens of the troubled F-35 fighter jet to keep the headline number down. Rep. Mac Thornberry, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said Thursday that he hopes the Trump administration will request even more defense funding once the new administration takes office.
That request appears to be a foregone conclusion, as Vice President Mike Pence said this week that the Trump administration will submit a request for supplemental defense spending within the first 100 days of taking office.
In what appears to be a nod to the inclinations of the Trump administration, the bill includes a recommendation that the U.S. implement a high-level officer exchange program with the Taiwanese military. It’s a move that China, which views the island nation as a breakaway province, will view as provocative if it is implemented.
However, Trump has already shown a willingness to poke at Beijing, having taken the controversial step of speaking on the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen after his election. As part of the country’s “One-China” policy, no U.S. president had spoken to the leader of Taiwan since 1979.
The NDAA does make some nods toward cost reductions. It requires the Pentagon to trim the ranks of active duty generals and admirals by 110 and includes a study intended to identify another 10 percent reduction.
The bill also targets Pentagon acquisitions for reform by splitting the duties of the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics between two posts: the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, and the new job of undersecretary for research and engineering.
None of these steps, though, addresses the fact that the Pentagon’s vast bureaucracy has never been successfully audited. Last summer, for example, an examination of the finances of the U.S. Army alone found misstatements and errors than ran into the trillions of dollars. A push by Congress to force the Pentagon into “audit readiness” by the end of fiscal year 2017 is widely regarded as doomed to failure.
The bill was able to pass both Houses of Congress by a wide margin after several controversial measures were removed. Among them were a proposal to allow defense contractors to exercise their “religious freedom” by discriminating against employees on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Another measure would have required women to register for the draft.
- 'It is now time to move on': Trump transition team casts doubt on CIA report Russia tried to help him win
(Politics - December 10 2016 - 3:30 AM:)<>
President-elect Donald Trump's transition team is casting doubt on a CIA report that claimed Russia tried to aid him in the US election.
"The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history." the Trump transition team's statement read. "It’s now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"
According to the report, intelligence officials identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with hacked emails and other documents that were damaging to the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
In October, US intelligence officials formally accused Russia of hacking the Democratic Party after a series of cyberattacks against the organization.
While the US initially thought Russia was trying to sew doubt in the US electoral process, intelligence officials now say Russia's apparent goal was to elect Trump.
The Post's report came hours after President Barack Obama ordered a "full review" of Russia's alleged involvement, due before Trump's inauguration on January 20.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the possibility of Russia’s involvement in the election.
In an interview with Time published this week, Trump said the previous hacks could have been caused by Russia, or China, or "some guy in his home in New Jersey."
- The CIA says it has evidence that Russia tried to help Trump win the US election
(Politics - December 10 2016 - 2:58 AM:)<>
The CIA believes that Russia intentionally meddled in the US election specifically to help Donald Trump win.
Intelligence officials believe they have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who allegedly gave WikiLeaks thousands of hacked emails and other documents, The Post wrote.
During the election, WikiLeaks regularly published hacked documents that were damaging to Democratic Party organizations and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. The email dump reached a fever pitch in the final weeks of the election.
WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, has denied his organization played any role in Russia's alleged meddling.
The Trump transition team released a remarkable statement Friday casting doubt on the reported findings.
"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the statement said. "The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"
In private meetings last week, the CIA told senators the evidence they gathered demonstrates it is "quite clear" Russia aimed to help ensure a Trump victory.
Initially, the inclination within the US intelligence community was that Russia simply sought to undermine the integrity of the election. That assertion was bolstered by concerns that the Kremlin might attempt to hack voting machines on Election Day.
But, as The Post's Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller wrote, official findings have led US intelligence experts to believe Russia was aiming for a specific result — a President-elect Donald Trump.
"It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected," said an unnamed senior US official who was briefed on the matter and cited by The Post.
The New York Times cited a senior Obama administration official who said "We now have high confidence that they hacked the DNC and the RNC, and conspicuously released no documents" related to Republicans.
In addition to the release of hacked emails, a flood of disinformation and conspiracy theories was widely circulated on the internet in the form of false stories that were peddled as news. Much of that fake news — which almost exclusively targeted Hillary Clinton — gained tremendous popularity on social networks like Facebook for months leading up to November 8.
News of the CIA’s findings came as President Barack Obama ordered a complete review of the matter Friday.
In October, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence officially accused Russia of hacking the Democratic Party citing multiple cyberattacks against the organization.
US intelligence officials have previously been cautious about accusing Russia of helping Trump win the election as they have faced challenges gathering intelligence about President Vladimir Putin, The Post reported.
Democrats have criticized the Obama administration's extremely cautious approach to pointing fingers at Russia.
According to the report, when the Obama administration tried to form a bipartisan coalition that would publicly accuse Russia of undermining the election, their plan was met with opposition from skeptical Republicans.
The Post noted that California Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and is a member of the Trump transition team, said he would "be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell implied he would accuse Obama of partisan politics if Obama publicly challenged Russia.
- Peter Thiel gave Mitt Romney some prescient advice in 2012 — and was ignored
(Politics - December 10 2016 - 12:05 AM:)<>
Back in 2012, before Peter Thiel supported Donald Trump's quest to become president, the billionaire tech investor gave sharp advice to presidential candidate Mitt Romney — and was apparently ignored.
"I think the most pessimistic candidate is going to win, because if you are too optimistic it suggests you are out of touch," Thiel told Romney, as reported in George Packer’s "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America."
Thiel's point was that most of America didn't share the rosy view found in Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Instead of simply telling people that President Barack Obama was incompetent, he said, a challenger should say the country was broken and needed major change.
But Romney didn't get it.
Wrote Packer: "He assumed that the more optimistic candidate would always win. He assumed that things were still fundamentally working."
And the rest is history. Romney lost, and Trump came out with a shockingly pessimistic campaign — daring to say that America wasn’t great anymore — and won.
If you're wondering why Thiel keeps supporting Republicans, check out our report on Thiel's philosophy.
- Here's how early in pregnancy that Ohio's 'heartbeat bill' would ban abortions
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 11:32 PM:)<>
On Tuesday, Ohio's legislature passed a bill that, if signed into law by Governor John Kasich, would dramatically limit women's reproductive rights in the state.
Another anti-abortion bill sent to Kasich for signing into law — or vetoing — would ban the practice after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Below are the key biological stages of pregnancy as they relate to a developing baby, including when its heartbeat is first detectable.
- Rudy Giuliani withdraws name from consideration in Trump administration, president-elect says
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 9:35 PM:)<>
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani withdrew last week from consideration to be secretary of state or any other role in the incoming White House, President-elect Donald Trump said Friday.
"Rudy Giuliani is an extraordinarily talented and patriotic American," Trump said. "I will always be appreciative of his 24/7 dedication to our campaign after I won the primaries and for his extremely wise counsel."
Trump said that Giuliani "continues to be a close personal friend" and will be someone he looks to for advice. The president-elect said he "can see an important place for him in the administration at a later date."
Giuliani, who was initially considered a front-runner for secretary of state, was overshadowed in recent weeks by other people, including retired Gen. David Petraeus and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee.
"This is not about me; it is about what is best for the country and the new administration," Giuliani said in a statement explaining his decision.
The former New York City mayor, who after the release of the lewd 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape was perhaps the only surrogate who publicly defended Trump, will remain vice chairman of the presidential transition team, the campaign said.
"Before I joined the campaign I was very involved and fulfilled by my work with my law firm and consulting firm, and I will continue that work with even more enthusiasm," Giuliani said. "From the vantage point of the private sector, I look forward to helping the president-elect in any way he deems necessary and appropriate."
Fox News host Neil Cavuto, who spoke to Giuliani after it was announced he had withdrawn his name for consideration, asked if he was at all bitter.
"Not at all. I am a very happy man," Giuliani said, adding that Trump "continues to be one of my closest friends."
The pair will attend the Army-Navy football game on Saturday together, Giuliani said.
Trump's list of candidates for secretary of state has significantly expanded in recent days. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday afternoon that Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobile, was Trump's latest favorite for the post.
- 'They are gasping for air': Trump relishes in defeat of Never Trump movement, says its members are on 'a respirator'
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 9:18 PM:)<>
President-elect Donald Trump on Friday relished in the defeat of his political opponents.
Speaking in Louisiana at a rally for US Senate candidate John Kennedy, Trump took aim at the so-called Never Trump movement, characterizing its members as on "a respirator right now."
"They are gasping," he told the crowd. "They are gasping for air."
Boasting about defeating the Never Trump movement has been a favorite for the president-elect at his events. He did so at the Republican National Convention over the summer, and he has repeatedly noted that his detractors were wrong to predict he could never win the election.
At the Friday afternoon rally, Trump also said he is a "big believer in free speech" but wanted to outlaw the burning of the American flag, an act the US Supreme Court has ruled is protected by the Constitution.
"We are going to be putting something in" to prevent flag burning, Trump said.
The president-elect also attacked the media, saying that he had played a role in reducing the trust Americans have in the press.
"The one thing we have done is we have exposed the credibility of the press," he said, adding that journalists have "the lowest credibility."
Trump was scheduled to be in Michigan on Friday evening for another leg of his "thank you" tour.
- New York Times executive editor: 'We don't get religion'
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 8:07 PM:)<>
The executive editor of The New York Times said in an interview this week that journalists at his publication, and elsewhere, have a hard time understanding religion and the role it plays in people's lives.
Dean Baquet told NPR one of his goals after the election was to "make sure that we are much more creative about beats out in the country so that we understand that anger and disconnectedness that people feel."
"And I think I use religion as an example because I was raised Catholic in New Orleans," he said. "I think that the New York-based — and Washington-based too, probably — media powerhouses don't quite get religion."
Baquet continued: "We have a fabulous religion writer, but she's all alone. We don't get religion. We don't get the role of religion in people's lives. And I think we can do much, much better."
The editor, who has helmed The Times since 2014, added that he believed "there are things that we can be more creative about to understand the country."
Since President-elect Donald Trump's unforeseen victory over Hillary Clinton last month, various news outlets have pondered how forecasts and predictions could have been so wrong.
"That's how I look at it," Baquet said. "I now have two big jobs. Big job one is to cover the most compelling and unusual president we have had in my lifetime.
"Big job two is to really understand and explain the forces in America that led to Americans wanting a change so much that they were willing to select such a different figure for the White House. Those are my two big jobs."
- Trump's transition team wants to know who worked on Obama's climate policies
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 8:05 PM:)<>
Donald Trump's transition team has asked the Energy Department for a list of people who worked on policies designed to address climate change under Barack Obama, Bloomberg reports.
The transition sent a memo to the Energy Department with 65 questions, according to the report.
Among them was a request for a list of employees and contractors involved in Obama-era climate change legislation. Specifically, Bloomberg reports that the request asked for the names of people who either attended United Nations meetings on climate change or helped develop measures designed to evaluate the long-term economic impact of carbon emissions.
Representative Bill Foster (D, Il-11) issued a statement by email on Friday that condemned the probe, indirectly comparing it to McCarthyist politicking of the 1950s:
"The report that President Elect Trump wants to identify civil servants at the Department of Energy who work on climate change and international diplomacy is deeply disturbing. It harkens back to an era when politicians sought out individuals for partisan politics with little basis of any wrongdoing. The United States has always been at the forefront of scientific inquiry and innovation. These Cold War era tactics threaten to undo the decades of progress we have made on climate change and to dissuade a new generation of scientists from tackling our world’s biggest problems. No one should have to work in fear of political retaliation. Our leaders should encourage an atmosphere of open research and scientific inquiry without political obstruction."
Business Insider contacted a representative for Trump's team for a response to Foster's statement, but we did not immediately receive a reply.
Trump's team also reportedly requested a complete list of projects from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The ARPA-E, founded in 2009, has paid out about $1.3 billion in funding to clean and renewable energy technologies like grid-scale energy storage, biofuels, and wind turbines.
The transition seems interested as well in the wing of the Energy Deparcharged with evaluating and forecasting costs of renewable and fossil fuel energy sources, according to Bloomberg.
The memo also suggests the Trump administration will be interested in preserving nuclear power in the US. However, presidential transitions routinely involve the incoming administration examining the workings of the outgoing administration's various bureaucracies, so it's the specific questions Trump's team is asking that may signal their targets for the most significant changes.
So far, Trump and his team have shown a strong interest in reversing many Obama-era US environmental policies.
Trump has picked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a man who is actively suing the Environmental Protection Agency over some of these policies, to lead the agency. Myron Ebell, whose career has focused on disputing the science of climate change, also holds a key role on Trump's transition team. In addition, a Trump advisor recently outlined plans to remove funding for NASA's unique, 58-year-long Earth science mission. The Trump transition website also says it will "scrap the $5 trillion dollar Obama-Clinton Climate Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan."
- The Ohio Legislature just passed another bill banning abortion
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 7:21 PM:)<>
The Ohio Legislature passed the second bill this week that would impose some of the strictest bans on abortion in the country.
Both now head to Gov. John Kasich, who hasn't said whether he'd sign or veto either.
Iris Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said the bills would make abortion illegal in the state, forcing women to travel long distances if they needed the procedure.
"For the second time in a week, the Ohio Legislature has inserted itself into women's private and personal healthcare decisions," Harvey said in a statement sent to Business Insider. "These bans are rejected by Ohioans. ... We're going to keep fighting back. Ohio legislators need to listen, and John Kasich needs to veto these dangerous bans."
Doctors can detect a fetus's heartbeat as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Women usually don't find out they're pregnant until four to seven weeks in — meaning the heartbeat bill would most likely leave many women unable to get a safe, legal abortion in the state.
Only 478 of the 20,976 abortions reported in Ohio in 2015 involved pregnancies of more than 19 weeks, according to the state Department of Health. Fewer than 1% of abortions in the state occurred after 21 weeks into the pregnancy.
Research has found that most women who get abortions at or after 20 weeks wanted to get one sooner but couldn't because they couldn't travel to get one, were victims of domestic violence, were depressed or had substance abuse problems, or couldn't afford it.
Another reason to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks is severe birth defects — such as trisomy 18 — in which the fetus wouldn't survive if the woman carried it to term. On Wednesday, a couple who lost two pregnancies because of trisomy 18 testified before the House, encouraging the committee to reject the 20-week bill.
Both bills allow for an exception if the mother's health is endangered, but not for cases of rape or incest. Rep. Teresa Fedor, a Democrat from Toledo, who told the Legislature last year that she had an abortion after she was raped while in the military, called the ban an "attack on women."
Abortion-rights advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, decried the bill, calling it unconstitutional and saying it violates the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade granting women a constitutional right to safe, legal abortions.
Republican Keith Faber, the president of the Ohio Senate, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Trump's victory emboldened the Legislature to pass the heartbeat bill with the hope that the courts would uphold it.
"I think it has a better chance than it did before" to survive a legal challenge, Faber said.
"Clearly this bill's supporters are hoping that President-elect Trump will have the chance to pack the US Supreme Court with justices that are poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade," Kellie Copeland, the executive director of the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a statement on the heartbeat bill.
"We must prevent that from happening to protect women's lives," Copeland added. "This bill would effectively outlaw abortion and criminalize physicians that provide this care to their patients."
Abortion-rights advocates protested outside the governor's mansion Tuesday night, encouraging Kasich to veto the bill:
HAPPENING NOW: Pro-choice protesters are outside of the governors mansion urging him to veto the heartbeat bill if it comes to his desk. pic.twitter.com/0QSkgCPG7F— Bryant Maddrick (@Bryantwsyx6) December 6, 2016
Abortion rights supporters protesting at Governor's residence where event is being held, just hours after Ohio Senate passed Heartbeat bill pic.twitter.com/Ze4SYM4F2A— Jo Ingles (@joingles) December 7, 2016
Kasich's press secretary, Emmalee Kalmbach, declined to comment on whether he would sign the heartbeat bill, according to The Columbus Dispatch, and hasn't made any further statements on the 20-week bill.
Kasich could line-item veto the part of the heartbeat bill banning abortion, The Dispatch reports, with Kathy DiCristofaro, the chair of the Ohio Democratic Women's Caucus, describing the abortion ban as being "tacked on as a last-minute amendment" to a bill addressing child-abuse prevention. The 20-week ban is its own standalone bill, so Kasich has to sign or veto that one as a whole.
The ACLU of Ohio has threatened to sue if either bill becomes law. Other abortions-rights advocates would most likely join their suit.
- 'You must be kidding': Trump's trade allies are outraged he's considering one congressman for a top post
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 6:19 PM:)<>
The thought of one particular congressman potentially becoming the top trade official in President-elect Donald Trump's administration has outraged trade reform advocates hopeful that the incoming president would stick to his word regarding his tough-on-trade campaign rhetoric.
That congressman is outgoing Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana, who sought the open Senate seat in his home state but did not receive enough votes to qualify for the runoff election on Saturday. He is not seeking reelection to his House seat.
Politico reported earlier this month that Boustany had been engaged with Trump's transition team about serving as US trade representative in the administration, and the Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee confirmed such discussions with Inside US Trade, saying he'd take the job if offered.
"I'm certainly interested," he said.
While the Louisiana Republican is selling himself for his role in securing passage of two major trade enforcement bills enacted by Congress in 2015, he's been in favor of all of the major free trade agreements Trump has stood in fierce opposition to. Boustany voted in favor of fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership and is a cofounder of the Friends of the TPP caucus. An unabashed free trader, he has voted in favor of trade agreements with Peru and South Korea, as well as trade promotion agreements with Panama and Colombia.
"The prospect of him as a USTR candidate makes Trump's trade campaign, campaign trade commitments, and focus seem extremely hypocritical," Lori Wallach, director and founder of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, told Business Insider. "I mean, it's a little bit like inviting Dracula to run your blood bank."
Wallach ridiculed Boustany for not declaring opposition to the TPP until he was "going down in flames" in the Senate race, she said, adding the caveat that he was opposing it in its current version only because it didn't go far enough to meet demands made in the trade promotion authority legislation, particularly regarding intellectual property protections for the pharmaceutical industry. Boustany had additionally expressed concerns about how the deal would affect Louisiana's sugar and rice industries.
"Not because it would kill jobs, not because it would help China because it didn't deal with currency manipulation, but because it didn't do enough for one particular industry to avoid competition," she said, adding that the discussion between Boustany and the Trump team "makes a lot of people wonder whether Trump really intends to do any reforms on trade policy."
"Boustany would be the last person you would have as USTR if that was your plan," she said.
Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, told Business Insider that he felt it was "unlikely" Boustany would get the pick because it would be a total "betrayal of Trump's campaign promises and his base."
"Boustany is a pro-offshoring globalist, untroubled by trade deficits, who opposed fixing currency manipulation and helped lead the unsuccessful effort to ram the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress," he said in a statement.
But the source who spoke with Politico said Boustany could make a "strong case" for the job based on his role in authoring the trade enforcement provisions in 2015's Customs and Border Protection reauthorization. The source added that the need to expand trade is not mutually exclusive with what he believes is Trump's foremost priority of stronger trade enforcement.
Indeed, Trump has spent much of the campaign — and even a significant portion of his "thank you" tour rallies in recent days — railing against China, labeling the country as the main culprit for the loss of many manufacturing jobs in the US. The president-elect has promised to label China a currency manipulator as soon as he assumes office, making appeals for tougher enforcement against Chinese trade practices.
Boustany, who served as co-chair of the congressional US-China working group, voted against legislation in 2010 related to currency manipulation.
While trade reform activists are appalled at the idea of Boustany in the position, House Republicans believe Boustany is intriguing as a potential USTR.
Saying he's sure the Trump transition team will make "a very appropriate selection," House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Kevin Brady told Business Insider in a recent interview that he's pleased Boustany is under consideration.
"Look, I know Dr. Boustany very well," he said of the congressman, who used to work as a cardiovascular surgeon in his home state. "And I am so always impressed with him, his knowledge of trade, his involvement in trade agreements."
"He also, in the House, led the enforcement efforts that became part of the new law — the customs bill that was signed earlier this year by the president gives us those unprecedented enforcement powers," he said.
Brady called Boustany an "incredibly hard worker" who "brings a lot to the table."
The other person who has been mentioned as a potential USTR is Dan DiMicco, the former Nucor CEO who is leading Trump's trade-related transition. That choice would be much more appealing to trade reformers.
"A lot of people think Dan DiMicco, a guy who ... aligns with a lot of Trump's views on trade and is coming from having run a big steel company that had to deal with Chinese cheating and all the subsidies, would be more compatible to what Trump says he wants," Wallach said.
A Boustany selection would alienate the voters who helped put Trump over the top in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, all a part of the so-called blue wall that Trump was not expected to crack in the November election, Wallach said. She added that the reported conversations had "a lot of people sending around emails saying, 'Oh my God, even the trade stuff is a con job.'"
"I think that there are a lot of people when they saw that meeting who said, 'What the f---,'" Wallach said. "It's like, you must be kidding. Let's, like, have Martin Luther become the Pope. It's antithetical to the basic philosophies."
Wallach said Boustany was the "corporate special interests'" last chance to "undermine" the changes Trump campaigned on.
"I mean, just the signal it sends," she said. "If there are a lot of people doubting what Trump really means on his veracity about anything, the last thing you would want to do is send a signal of total hypocrisy in the first few weeks of your transition."
Neither Boustany nor the Trump transition team returned requests for comment from Business Insider.
- Fashion designer Nicole Miller reveals what Donald Trump is really like
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 6:15 PM:)<>
Everybody thinks they know Donald Trump. But according to fashion designer Nicole Miller, he has another side you may not be familiar with.
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- What the prestigious $40,000-a-year school that's educated 35 years of presidential kids has to offer
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 5:31 PM:)<>
For now, it seems, President-elect Donald Trump's youngest son Barron will not be attending Sidwell Friends School.
The Quaker school with locations in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington, DC, has educated multiple first kids. In fact, if Barron doesn't attend, he'll be the first in 35 years not to, The Washington Post reported.
Trump and his wife Melania announced that the family will keep Barron enrolled in his New York City-based day school rather than moving to Washington, DC right away. Barron attends Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
A spokesperson for the Trumps noted that there is "obviously a sensitivity to pulling out a 10-year-old in the middle of the school year."
Here's what we know about Sidwell Friends, the school that's educated decades' worth of presidential kids:
- Sidwell Friends was founded in 1883 on Quaker values. "The Quaker pillars of the school inspire active engagement in environmental stewardship, global citizenship, and service," says the school's site.
- Current and former attendees include Sasha and Malia Obama, Vice President Biden's grandchildren, former President Nixon's daughters, Chelsea Clinton, and Nancy Reagan ... and Bill Nye.
- For the 2016-17 school year there were 1,142 students enrolled ( 578 boys, 564 girls).
- Annual tuition is about $40,000.
- It boasts impressive facilities including indoor and outdoor tracks, and five tennis courts. The DC campus is 15 acres and the Maryland campus is five acres.
- Admissions are competitive; while there is no acceptance rate listed, the school's site notes the number of slots available per grade (for example, there are four current openings in the 4th grade) and mentions that future openings occur only through attrition of current students.
- Middle school students begin every day with five minutes of silence in order to focus their attention. Silence is also a tenet of the Quaker tradition and incorporated in worship services.
- The school provides a unique Chinese studies program with opportunities for students to study abroad.
- UN HUMAN-RIGHTS CHIEF: Trump used similar 'propaganda' tactics as ISIS
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 5:20 PM:)<>
The United Nations human-rights chief compared US President-elect Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric to the propaganda the terrorist group ISIS pushes out, condemning Trump and what he called other right-wing "populists and demagogues" who have risen to power in the West.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein made his comments during a dinner hosted by the Peace, Justice, and Security Foundation, according to The Telegraph. He reportedly called out Trump as well as Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, and British former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
"Make no mistake, I certainly do not equate the actions of nationalist demagogues with those of Daesh, which are monstrous, sickening; Daesh must be brought to justice," Zeid reportedly said, using an alternative name for ISIS. "But in its mode of communication, its use of half-truths and oversimplification, the propaganda of Daesh uses tactics similar to those of the populists."
He continued: "Both sides of this equation benefit from each — indeed would not expand in influence without each other's actions."
Zeid described these leaders' method of winning support: "Make people, already nervous, feel terrible, and then emphasize it's all because of a group, lying within, foreign and menacing. Then make your target audience feel good by offering up what is a fantasy to them, but a horrendous injustice to others. Inflame and quench, repeat many times over, until anxiety has been hardened into hatred."
Trump was often criticized during the campaign season for his divisive rhetoric. At one point, he advocated a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the US.
NOW WATCH: Why Ivanka can't serve in a Trump cabinet> <>
- Why some Trump supporters are boycotting the new 'Star Wars' movie with #DumpStarWars
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 4:50 PM:)<>
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" has become the target of a political boycott online a week before it is released.
Some social-media users have come out against the new "Star Wars" spin-off movie on both Reddit and Twitter, where people have spoken out against the movie with the hashtag #DumpStarWars.
The boycott seems to have stemmed from a rumor that "Rogue One" was changed in reshoots and edits to make it slanted against President-elect Donald Trump. A writer for the film, Chris Weitz, says that story is "completely fake."
Star Wars writers rewrote and reshot Rogue One to add in Anti Trump scenes calling him a racist. Disgusting.#DumpStarWars— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) December 8, 2016
Others chimed in to protest "Rogue One," believing the film to be politically motivated.
Another source of ire for people boycotting the movie is the fact that Weitz has made comments on Twitter that appear to protest the election of Trump, including one tweet shortly after the election featuring the Rebel symbol from "Star Wars" with a safety pin through it, signifying unity. Weitz wrote: "Star Wars against hate. Spread it."
Star Wars against hate. Spread it. pic.twitter.com/Dtf5uqpxba— Chris Weitz (@chrisweitz) November 11, 2016
Separately, IndieWire reports that "Rogue One" has also been the target of criticism on a self-professed "alt-right" section of Reddit with ties to white supremacy. Users have pointed to the multicultural casting and leading female roles in the newest "Star Wars" movies (including "Force Awakens"). One such alt-right user called "Rogue One" "anti-white social engineering."
- Biden to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau: 'We need you very, very badly'
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 4:28 PM:)<>
Vice President Joe Biden said "genuine leaders" were in short supply and the world needed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "very, very badly," at a dinner hosted by Trudeau in Ottawa on Thursday night, The Globe and Mail reports.
"The world's going to spend a lot of time looking to you, Mr. Prime Minister, as we see more and more challenges to the liberal international order than any time since the end of World War II," Biden said.
"But I am absolutely confident that we in North America are better positioned than any time since the end of World War II to lead the world, to lead the hemisphere, to move it to a place in a way that we haven't seen."
Biden said "a lot of soul-searching" was going on in the US — alluding to Donald Trump's election — and said that he had never seen "Europe engaged in as much self-doubt as now."
"And as you look around the world at this ebb and flow, as I've watched in my career, there are periods where the number of genuine leaders on continents are in short supply and when they're in heavy supply," Biden said.
Biden said the world would see "astronomical" change in the near future, including the curing of cancer and advances in transportation and air travel.
"The progress is going to be made," Biden said. "It's going to take men like you, Mr. Prime Minister, who understand that has to fit within the context of a liberal economic order, liberal international order, where there's basic rules of the road."
"If I had a glass, I'd toast you by saying vive le Canada, because we need you very, very badly."
Here's a partial transcript of Biden's remarks, from The Globe and Mail:
"And as you look around the world at this ebb and flow, as I've watched in my career, there are periods where the number of genuine leaders on continents are in short supply and when they're in heavy supply. Right now, right now, I've never seen and I've, in my area of so-called expertise has been the former Soviet Union, Russia now, and, and Europe, I've never seen Europe engaged in as much self-doubt as they are now.
"The world's going to spend a lot of time looking to you, Mr. Prime Minister, as we see more and more challenges to the liberal international order than any time since the end of World War II. You and Angela Merkel, there's a lot of, there's a lot of soul searching going on in Europe, and you saw some of it in my country. But I am absolutely confident that we in North America are better positioned than any time since the end of World War II to lead the world, to lead the hemisphere, to move it to a place in a way that we haven't seen.
"The opportunities are immense, immense, from the cure of cancer to, by the time your children are able to go to the airport on their own, they're going to be flying subsonically at 22,000 miles an hour. The changes that are going to take place are going to be astronomical. The progress is going to be made. It's going to take men like you, Mr. Prime Minister, who understand that has to fit within the context of a liberal economic order, liberal international order, where there's basic rules of the road.
"We're going to get through this period because we're Americans and we're Canadians. And so [if] I had a glass, I'd toast you by saying vive le Canada, because we need you very, very badly. Thank you."
- Most voters support a minimum-wage hike to at least $10 an hour — that's now looking very unlikely
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 4:04 PM:)<>
A solid majority of American voters support raising the federal minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, according to a recent survey of registered voters conducted by Public Policy Polling.
The poll found that 76% of registered voters supported raising the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour. Twenty-nine percent of those polled supported raising it to $15.
More than half (54%) of people who voted for President-elect Donald Trump support giving the lowest-paid workers in the nation a raise to at least $10 an hour.
The federal minimum wage today stands at $7.25 an hour. That number hasn't budged since 2009. Millions of minimum-wage workers rely on federal assistance programs to make ends meet. As the chart below shows, the minimum wage is not enough to keep workers out of poverty:
According to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 would give more than one in four American workers a raise.
But it's looking less likely that this will happen anytime soon. On Thursday, Trump chose Andrew Puzder, the CEO of the parent company of the fast-food chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, to lead the Department of Labor.
Puzder opposes the pro-labor regulations that were ushered in under President Barack Obama, including a rule designed to make millions of workers newly eligible for overtime pay. He wrote in The Wall Street Journal in 2014 that Obama's efforts to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would raise unemployment. Republicans, who control Congress, have rejected numerous attempts to raise the minimum wage at the federal level, stating that wage issues should be "handled at the state and local level."
Many states and local governments have already taken it upon themselves to raise wages. California and New York have plans in place to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years. In November, voters in Arizona, Maine, Colorado, and Washington approved ballot measures that will hike wages to at least $12 an hour by 2020.
But a handful of states don't have minimum-wage laws of their own and therefore rely on the federal minimum wage to set a pay floor. Numerous other states have minimum wages that are equal to the federal rate of $7.25 an hour.
- Seth Meyers: How Trump 'lied his a-- off' about his biggest deal yet as president-elect
(Politics - December 09 2016 - 3:51 PM:)<>
To hear Donald Trump talk about the Carrier deal, it would seem the president-elect scored a major deal to save a a lot of jobs. But Seth Meyers clouded that victory a bit on Thursday's "Late Night."
"Donald Trump was able to win the Rust Belt states in the Midwest in part by fashioning himself as a champion of the working man," Meyers said on "Late Night." "An impressive feat considering that the only tool he has ever used is a spork from KFC. At almost every campaign rally, he promised to keep American jobs in the US, offering one specific example, Carrier."
With his Carrier deal, Trump was making good on the campaign promise he made — even if he didn't remember he had made it.
While the president-elect was watching the news, a Carrier employee being interviewed said he didn't believe the air conditioner manufacturer would actually send its jobs to Mexico because Trump promised the company wouldn’t.
“I never thought I made that promise,” Trump said last week in a speech at Carrier in Indiana.
But Trump had made the promise, and he decided to do something about it.
Trump claimed his deal with Carrier would keep more than 1,100 jobs in the US. But according to reports, hundreds of those jobs were research and development positions, which were never slated to move to Mexico. According to the Washington Post's count, Trump actually saved 730 jobs, or 37% of those that were earmarked to be outsourced. Meanwhile, 1,250 jobs are still going overseas.
In a speech, the leader of the union that represents the Carrier workers said Trump "lied his a-- off" about the numbers.
Meyers said that 730 jobs was still a great thing, but he found it pretty easy to understand the union leader's accusations.
"Trump does have a tendency to lie his a-- off," Meyers joked. "That's why Chris Christie is always there to catch it."
The host then claimed you could actually "hear his a-- hitting the ground" and then played clips of Trump's "lies."
For the record, Trump responded to the Carrier union leader on Twitter.
"Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country," Trump wrote. "If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues."
Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2016
If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2016
Watch the "Late Night" segment on Trump's Carrier deal below: