POLITICS
01/12/2017 05:35 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Powerful White Guy With Mixed Civil Rights Record Gets Medal, Left Delighted

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Like what you read below? Sign up for HUFFPOST HILL and get a cheeky dose of political news every evening!

Chuck Schumer came out against Jeff Session’s nomination, making us wonder just why the hell we even have a Senate gym. Sunny Obama bit a young visitor to the White House, giving Jason Chaffetz something to do once his Benghazi investigations wrap up. And President Obama surprised Joe Biden with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. As far as surprises for Joe Biden go, it wasn’t a Suzuki GSX-S1000F ABS topped with a big red ribbon and unveiled in a haze of smoke and lasers, but he’ll take it. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 12th, 2017:

DOJ INVESTIGATING COMEY ANNOUNCEMENT - Big news regarding this generation’s Bush v. Gore. Ryan J. Reilly: “The Justice Department’s internal watchdog will review the actions taken by FBI and DOJ officials in connection with an investigation into Hillary Clinton, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said Thursday. Horowitz said the review was being conducted in response to requests from member of Congress, outside organizations and members of the public. It will review ‘allegations regarding certain actions’ by the Department of Justice and the FBI ‘in advance of the 2016 election.’ FBI Director James Comey has faced extensive criticism for his handling of the Clinton matter…. Horowitz’s office said the review will not substitute the [Office of the Inspector General’s] judgment for the judgments made by the FBI or the Department [of Justice] regarding the substantive merits of investigative or prosecutive decisions.’” [HuffPost]

SCHUMER COMES OUT AGAINST SESSIONS  - Eugene Scott: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Thursday that he will vote against Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination for attorney general. ‘After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration, the New York Democrat said in a statement. ‘I am also deeply concerned by his views on immigration, which I saw firsthand during the push for comprehensive immigration reform. For those reasons, I will oppose his nomination to serve as the next attorney general.’ … Multiple civil rights groups, along with Democratic lawmakers, have expressed concern about Sessions’ ability to represent historically disenfranchised groups given his past statements on the Voting Rights Act, the NAACP and allegations of racist language, which he has denied.” [CNN]

The Senate Library is now displaying Michael Flynn’s book in the display case outside its office. Of course!

CUBA NOT-SO-LIBRE - Alicia A. Caldwell and Julie Pace: “President Barack Obama is ending a longstanding immigration policy that allows any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident, a senior administration official said Thursday. The repeal of the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy is effective immediately, according the official. The decision follows months of negotiations focused in part on getting Cuba to agree to take back people who had arrived in the U.S…. President-elect Donald Trump has taken a tougher line on U.S. relations with Cuba and could undo the change once he takes office.” [AP]

Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It’s free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to eliot@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

TEAM OF SKEPTICS -  Bad news for God’s greatest job creator. Igor Bobic and Michael McAuliff: “President-elect Donald Trump’s numerous controversial and nontraditional stances aren’t just troubling to millions of people around the world. Apparently even his own nominees ― ‘the best people,’ as he tells it ― disagree with him on many issues, according to testimonies they delivered this week during their respective Senate confirmation hearings. It’s not clear whether their differing opinions will matter, since the men and women in the president’s Cabinet will ultimately have to execute their boss’ orders. But the degree to which all of Trump’s top-level choices disagree with him is remarkable. Nearly every nominee who testified this week put significant daylight between themselves and the president-elect, including defense secretary nominee James Mattis, CIA director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and homeland security secretary nominee John Kelly.” [HuffPost]

Here’s a handy list of inauguration street closures in D.C. ― remember it fondly when people start closing streets as part of post-apocalyptic roadblocks

TRUMP MOVING TO UNDERCUT CFPB - Ben Walsh and Ryan Grim: “Trump met with former Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) on Wednesday and is considering Neugebauer to run the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau], Trump spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed on a Thursday call with reporters. A source close to the transition team told HuffPost that Neugebauer has yet to be offered the job, but that no other candidates are being looked at yet. HuffPost previously reported that Neugebauer’s name was being floated as agency chief if Trump decides to fire the current director, Richard Cordray. When he was in Congress, Neugebauer opposed CFPB actions like the first-ever federal rule cracking down on payday loans. He labeled the agency’s effort to require payday lenders to take basic steps to ensure consumers can pay back their loans and not get trapped in a cycle of debt as a ‘paternalistic erosion of consumer product choices.’ He introduced a bill to overhaul and weaken the agency.” [HuffPost]

MOAR GOLDMAN - God, GS is so depleted you wonder whether Trump’s people will have to lower themselves to hiring from JP Morgan. Matthew Nussbaum: “President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that Goldman Sachs executive Dina Habib Powell will serve as assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives. Powell, who serves as the global head of impact investing at the Wall Street behemoth and as president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, will join a number of other Goldman alumni in the administration, including Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon; his pick for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin; and his pick to lead the White House National Economic Council, Gary Cohn. And Trump’s pick to lead the SEC, Jay Clayton, represented Goldman Sachs in his work as a Wall Street lawyer.” [Politico]

GIULIANI TAPPED TO TALK ABOUT CYBERSECURITY, OR SOMETHING Dana Liebelson: “Trump will also be ‘hosting a series of meetings with senior corporate executives from companies which have faced or are facing challenges’ related to hacking, identity theft and infrastructure security, the president-elect’s transition team explained in a press release…. It’s unclear what exactly Giuliani will be doing in his new role, but it could raise conflict of interest issues. Giuliani chairs the global cybersecurity practice at Greenberg Traurig and is chairman and CEO of Giuliani Partners, a consulting firm he launched after leaving public office. As The Huffington Post previously reported, Giuliani Partners had clients with political interests that could conflict with Giuliani’s governmental duties. Giuliani also has ties to foreign governments and political parties.” [HuffPost]

Bonjour! “French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and some of her campaign staff were spotted Thursday morning at Trump Tower, prompting speculation that the leader of the hard-line conservative National Front party would be meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. A Trump spokesman denied that Le Pen would meet with the president-elect or anyone from the transition team, telling reporters that ‘Trump Tower is open to the public.’ An aide to Le Pen said a meeting with Trump ‘is not on her public agenda,’ but added, ‘We don’t communicate about private visits.’” [HuffPost’s Christina Wilkie]

THE DOCTOR IS OUT. WAAAY OUT - But hey, housing policy is easy. It’s not like it’s brain surgery! Kriston Capps: “Over the course of a breezy confirmation hearing that wrapped before lunch, [Ben] Carson yielded little in the way of specifics about his expectations or goals as HUD secretary. He proposed a ‘listening tour’ of the nation in order to build a ‘world-class plan for housing in this country.’ With a few exceptions, Carson faced friendly fire from members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, who focused on narrow topics, including veterans housing and exposure to lead paint. By the end of the confirmation hearing, most of the questions surrounding Carson’s nomination—his qualifications, his plans, his philosophy of government, even his desire to run a cabinet agency—remained a mystery.” [CityLab]

Carson wouldn’t promise not to shove HUD money in Trump’s pocket. “During his confirmation hearing Thursday, Ben Carson repeatedly refused to guarantee that money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development would not go to benefit President-elect Donald Trump or his family. ‘Among the billions of dollars that you will be handing out in grants and loans, can you just assure us that not one dollar will go to benefit either the president-elect or his family?’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asked…. When Warren pressed him again, Carson again insisted on his own personal neutrality, instead of agreeing to avoid sending money to the president and his family. ‘It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American, particularly, it’s for all Americans, everything that we do,’ Carson said.” [HuffPost’s Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney]

COREY LEWANDOWSKI IS MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN YOU -  Asawin Suebsaeng and Andrew Kirell: Corey Lewandowski ― Donald Trump’s former campaign manager who bruised a female political reporter, lied about it, got fired, then landed a cushy CNN commentator gig that he quickly ditched after Trump became president-elect ― has a new job in right-wing cable news. Nope, it’s not at Fox News, a network as relentlessly pro-Trump as he is. Lewandowski landed a new gig, which The Daily Beast has been told started earlier this month, as a political commentator at One America News Network (OANN), a relatively new conservative news channel based out of San Diego, California. ‘He’s working for us like he worked for CNN,’ Robert Herring, the CEO at One America News Network (who once offered the husband of Terri Schiavo a cool $1 million to give up the guardian rights of his brain-damaged wife over to her parents), told The Daily Beast in a brief phone interview on Thursday. ‘It started last week, but not exactly sure of the date.’” [Daily Beast]

U MAD DOG BRO - Senate Democrats took a strong stand against Trump’s choice for secretary of Defense Thursd- oh, they didn’t? Tal Kopan: “President-elect Donald Trump’s selection to be defense secretary emerged from his confirmation hearing Thursday with seemingly broad support, after he took a strong posture against Russian President Vladimir Putin and answered tough questions on women and gays in combat. Ret. Gen. James Mattis also cleared one early procedural hurdle in his confirmation as the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of giving him a waiver to a law barring military officials from becoming defense secretary within seven years of their military service. The Senate’s 81-17 vote, following the Senate Armed Services Committee’s bipartisan 24-3 vote, also signaled Mattis would likely face little opposition to his confirmation. Much of Mattis’ hearing focused on areas where Trump and Mattis might diverge in views. At the top of the hearing, Mattis took a hard stance against Russia and Putin in answering a question from anti-Russia hawk, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.” [CNN]

Mattis has some pretty retrograde views about women and LGBTQ people, which evidently bothers almost no Democrats.

GROUP OF DEMOCRATS PROTESTING INAUGURATION -  Again, we can’t wait to see if SJL will stake out an aisle seat for Trump’s first state of the union. Jennifer Bendery: “A handful of Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, saying they can’t bring themselves to welcome a man to the White House who ran such a divisive and prejudiced campaign. ‘I will not be celebrating or honoring an incoming president who rode racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry to the White House,’ Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Thursday. ‘He called women “pigs,” stoked Islamophobia and attacked a Gold Star family. He mocked a disabled reporter and appealed to people’s worst instincts. I cannot in good conscience attend an inauguration that would celebrate this divisive approach to governance,’ Lee said. ‘On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.’” [HuffPost]

SUNNY OBAMA GOES FULL BULLWORTH - We’re sure the Daily Caller’s staff is high-fiving and revisiting its “no white dogs” report. Kyle Feldscher: “President Obama’s 4-year-old dog Sunny bit an 18-year-old female visiting the White House on Monday, leaving her requiring stitches. TMZ reported the teen was trying to pet and kiss the Portuguese Water Dog when Sunny bit her on the face. The incident left a cut requiring stitches on the visitor’s right cheek. Dr. Ronny Jackson, the Obama family physician, checked on the visitor and determined she needed the stitches. She’ll be left with a small scar, but will otherwise suffer no long-term damage from the incident.” [Washington Examiner]

OBAMACARE REPEAL IS A TRAINWRECK - Matt Fuller: “It should be an easy vote. House Republicans have successfully voted to repeal parts of Obamacare ― or the entire thing ― more than 60 times in the last six years. But now that lawmakers could actually be making law, there’s sudden apprehension in parts of the GOP conference…. But as they grapple with more details about a replacement, and as leadership tries to push a repeal through before Republicans ever start debating a replacement ― or even hold a hearing on the impact of getting rid of Obamacare ― a once-easy messaging vote might prove more difficult than leaders have let on.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here are animals enjoying snow at the Oregon Zoo.

AREA MAN LEADS MUCH BETTER LIFE THAN YOU - And here you are trying to muster together the down payment on a 800-square-foot two-bed one-bath in a rowhouse beside a Whitehurst Freeway on-ramp. Emily Heil and Kathy Orton: “Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos has bought the former Textile Museum, a 27,000 square-foot property, intending to convert it into a single-family home, according to a person with knowledge of the sale...The home is expected to be an East Coast pied-à-terre for the family ― allowing him to avoid hotel bills ― but the ample square footage means there’s plenty of room for entertaining.” [WaPo]

COMFORT FOOD

- Watching the creator of Mario at work.

- Prickle-free hedgehogs are kind of adorable.

TWITTERAMA

@dceiver: honestly not sure Giuliani knows how to work a coffeemaker but sure, cybersecurity

@crushingbort: you: Democrats freaked out about Trump liking pee while the Senate repealed the ACA

me: *calmly eating olive from my martini* “kompromat”

@thisisjendoll: Give me health care or give me death. Like, unfortunately, literally that’s gonna happen.

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com)

CONVERSATIONS