Earlier today across the pond in Turkey, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot and killed at a museum in Ankara, Turkey. It’s still unclear who is responsible for the attack, but it may have something to do with Russian support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. A video circulated on social media just after the attack appears to show a gunman saying “Don’t forget Aleppo.”
Karlov’s death comes amidst massive destruction in Aleppo after the Assad regime reportedly took control of large portions of the city. Last week, the UN referred to a “complete meltdown of humanity” in the city where Syrians are being evacuated after escalated violence. Follow the Karlov story here.
Vote Actually. The Electoral College is having a reunion today. The agenda: cast the official vote to make Trump the 45th president of the United States. After seemingly endless news about Russian meddling in our election process specifically to help Trump get the W, this vote has a lot of people saying It’s not over ‘til it’s over. But, it’s probably over (ask Hillary Kate). Here are the unlikely scenarios that could play out to stop a Trump presidency.
Russia. Lots happening. In the U.S., a bipartisan group of Senators led by Sens. McCain (R-AZ) and Schumer (D-NY) are joining together to call for an independent commission to look into Russian hacking of the U.S. election. McCain and Schumer are defying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s calls to investigate the hacking only as a matter of “regular order” in the Senate.
An “Unpresidented Act.” The latest glimpse into how President Trump plans to handle diplomatic challenges once in office. Over the weekend, China agreed to return a U.S. naval drone that it unlawfully seized in the South China Sea (background: China has been making controversial moves to control parts of the South China Sea for a few years now). The incident was resolved through diplomatic measures, and both sides appeared inclined to move past it and avoid further conflict. But then Trump decided to get involved on Twitter. All spelling mistakes aside, Trump’s decision to conduct foreign policy with China via Twitter has a lot of people concerned—including the Chinese. They said he’s not “behaving as a President who will become master of the White House in a month.” One piece of unsolicited advice for Trump: start by reading your daily intelligence briefings.
North Carolina. ICYMI, there has been a lot of drama in the Tar Heel state. Last month, North Carolinians voted for both a Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper, and a liberal majority on the Supreme Court. The Republican-controlled state legislature isn’t taking it well. Last week the legislature called an emergency session and passed a series of bills—a blatant power grab—that limits the power of the other two branches of government.. Gov. Pat McCrory signed one of the bills within minutes – a measure to limit the governor’s power to make certain appointments, including to the Boards of Election, which have played a big role in the voter suppression fights in the state. A second bill that would require Senate confirmation of the governor’s top agency appointments and dramatically reduces the governor’s political appointees, still sits on Gov McCrory’s desk, so you’re not done hearing about this.
And another one. It’s getting hard to count the number of Russian ties that Trump and his team share with Putin. The latest: Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, used to be the head of a U.S.-Russian oil company based in the Bahamas. And Wilbur Ross, Trump’s pick for commerce secretary, also has extensive business ties to Russian oligarchs and former KGB agents.
Mick Mulvaney. Trump has chosen his Office of Management and Budget Director… and surprise, surprise, Rep. Mick Mulvaney is another white dude who wants to backtrack on Trump’s campaign promises to working families. Mulvaney, chairperson of the House Freedom Caucus, celebrated the government shutdown in 2013 as “good policy” and, like Trump, doesn’t think the U.S. defaulting on its debt is a big deal. And even though Trump promised on the campaign trail to not touch Social Security and Medicare, Mulvaney has introduced several bills trying to slash the two programs.
UNDER THE RADAR
Take backs. That’s what some Trump voters might be asking for. New data from Gallup shows that Trump-supporting counties could be the most impacted by repeal of the Affordable Care Act. According to the survey, eight county types saw increases in health insurance above the national average and six of those types—representing 77 million people—voted for Trump. In other ACA news, a record number of people—670,000—enrolled in the ACA marketplace in a single day last week.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#BlockTrump. Democracy Spring, PCCC, AllOfUs, and others are organizing events in state capitols in all 50 states today to call on the Electoral College to block Trump and defend democracy.
Don’t Take Our Care. That’s the message behind more than 65 protests scheduled for tomorrow, December 20th organized by MoveOn and other allies. A map is here, a list of events is here, and a search engine to find the event nearest you is here.
Diversity. Coming to a Senate committee near you. Despite the fact that Trump has become the first president-elect in almost two decades not to nominate a woman or person of color to the Big Four cabinet positions (think: State, Defense, Attorney General, and Treasury) Democrats have renewed their charge to make diversity a top priority for the 115th Congress. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has tapped Lorenzo Olvera to head up the parties’ diversity charge for the Upper Chamber. Olvera will be succeeding Maria Meier, who ran the initiative under Sen. Harry Reid.