POLITICS
01/18/2017 06:13 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Wilbur Ross' Maid Somehow Trump's Only Nomination Casualty

Carlos Barria / Reuters

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President Obama has only two more nights on an air mattress now that he’s moved his stuff to his new house. Donald Trump pretended to write on a legal pad with the conviction of an actor haplessly slapping a keyboard as they pretend to hack something. And if this were any other transition, a nominee getting arrested for punching a guy at a high-end horse auction would kill the nomination, but *uncorks whiskey bottle with teeth* screw it! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 18th, 2017:

***A+ content alert*** HuffPost is hosting a DNC chairperson debate tonight at George Washington University. HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen and Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim will be hosting the seven candidates. [Watch live on HuffPost.com or on our Facebook page]

MAKE THE HELP GREAT AGAIN - “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re folding Wilbur Ross’ laundry.” Arthur Delaney, Ben Walsh and Amanda Terkel: “President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for commerce secretary admitted at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday that he recently fired a household employee who could not provide proof that they could legally work in the country. Having undocumented household help has sunk at least two previous cabinet secretary nominees. Billionaire private equity executive Wilbur Ross told the Senate Commerce Committee that when he hired the worker in 2009, the person provided what looked like a valid driver’s license and Social Security card. After Ross was nominated by Trump, he asked all his household staff to provide such documentation again. ‘When I was getting ready for this hearing I wanted to recheck all our present and former employees,’ Ross said, adding that all but one of about a dozen workers provided the right documentation. ‘This one employee was unable to and therefore was terminated,’ Ross said. The entire process happened in the last month.” [HuffPost]

PRICE FLIPS ON STOCK TRANSACTION -  Paul Blumenthal: “[Price] admitted on Wednesday that he decided to buy stock in an Australian biotech firm after receiving information from Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a board member of that company. Price’s admission that he personally chose to purchase stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics contradicts the Trump transition team’s defense of another questionable stock trade Price made. The transition team had previously said Price held a broker-operated account with Morgan Stanley and did not direct his stock trades…. Ethics experts stated that Price could be in violation of the STOCK Act, a bipartisan 2012 law that bans insider trading by members of Congress, if he received nonpublic information from Collins or others prior to purchasing Innate Immunotherapeutics shares.” [HuffPost]

Snowflake update: “President-elect Donald Trump’s close aide Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday blasted Democrats for ‘trying to embarrass’ the incoming administration’s Cabinet nominees.” [The Hill]

OBAMA HOLDS LAST PRESS CONFERENCE, DEFENDS MANNING COMMUTATION - It was, uhhhhhh, a lengthy, uhhhhhhh, affair. Sam Levine: “President Barack Obama said Wednesday he believes that efforts to make it more difficult to vote in the United States are an extension of the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws. ‘There is an ugly history to that that we should not be shy about talking about,’ Obama said during his final news conference. ‘The reason that we are the only country among advanced countries that makes it harder to vote is, it traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery. It became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. That’s not who we are. That shouldn’t be who we are. That’s not when America works best.’” [HuffPost]

Scenes from a transition: The baristas at the 17th & Pennsylvania Starbucks hugging several White House staffers and wishing them goodbye. “It’s like everyone is leaving!”

Haircuts: Adam Smith (h/t Adam Smith), Zach Carter (h/t Arthur Delaney and Jessica Schulberg), Michael Whitney (h/t Michael Whitney)

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FINALLY, A SECRETARY OF THE ARMY MICHAEL GRIMM CAN GET BEHIND - Short of ending our lives by driving off a cliff in a flaming motorcycle, this is probably the most dangerous thing on our bucket list. Michael S. Schmidt: “Vincent Viola, the billionaire Wall Street trader Donald J. Trump has nominated to be the secretary of the Army, was accused in August of punching a concessions worker at a high-end racehorse auction in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., according to a police report and local law enforcement officials. Police officers did not witness the episode. When officers arrived at the scene, however, the concessions worker had a ‘swollen bloody lip’ and said that Mr. Viola had punched him in the face, according to the police report…. A spokesman for Mr. Viola did not dispute that Mr. Viola had punched the worker, and said that Mr. Viola had informed Mr. Trump’s transition team about the episode. ‘Mr. Viola loves his wife and regrets the incident,’ the spokesman said in a written statement in response to several questions.” [NYT]

UNCLEAR IF GAME WILL RECOGNIZE GAME - Zach Carter: “Private equity billionaire Wilbur Ross has agreed to sell more than 90 percent of his assets in order to avoid conflicts of interest if he is confirmed as commerce secretary. But at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Ross repeatedly refused to say whether Trump should follow his lead and struggled to explain how he would deal with policy decisions that affected the president’s bottom line. ‘As I understand it, the ethics rules that apply to Senate-approved nominees do not apply to the president,’ Ross told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) when asked directly whether Trump should divest his businesses. ‘But simply as a matter of appearance and morality ― you were able to do it, why not the president?’ Blumenthal asked. Ross said he didn’t know how complicated the president-elect’s finances might be.” [HuffPost]

GREAT NEWS FOR FANS OF PERMANENT KIDNEY DAMAGE - Arthur Delaney: “President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency said at his confirmation hearing Wednesday that he didn’t know one of the most basic things about drinking water safety. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) asked Scott Pruitt if “there is any safe level of lead that can be taken into the human body.’ The answer is a simple ‘no,’ but somehow Pruitt didn’t say that. ‘Senator, that is something I have not reviewed nor know about,’ said Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma…. Pruitt shouldn’t need to look at the scientific research ― someone could just tell him. It’s not remotely controversial that lead, a deadly neurotoxin, can cause a host of health problems even in low doses. It can stunt children’s growth and permanently damage their young brains. Lead exposure has emerged as a plausible explanation for the rise and fall of violent crime in the 20th century.” [HuffPost]

Area man benefits from very low standards: “Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, said during his confirmation hearing Wednesday that he does not believe climate change is a ‘hoax’ ― something Trump has claimed in the past. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asked Pruitt about the president-elect’s past comments, while noting that 2016 was the hottest year on record. ‘I do not believe that climate change is a hoax,’ Pruitt said.” [HuffPost’s Sam Levine]

GOP TARGETING OBAMA RULES - Unless a bunch of fish caught in soda six-pack rings organizes a really effective Hill fly-in, a lot of Obama’s executive orders will be reversed. Mike DeBonis: “Next month, the House is expected to take up more targeted measures that would use fast-track procedures to undo several recent rules issued by executive-branch agencies…. Among the regulations on the Republican chopping block are new Interior Department rules aimed at protecting waterways near coal mines and preventing the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells, as well as a Labor Department rule that expands overtime eligibility. Democrats, along with major labor, consumer and environmental groups, are warning of significant and lasting harm to the public from the GOP push. A list of targets from the hard-line House Freedom Caucus includes school-lunch nutrition guidelines, renewable fuel standards and anti-tobacco programs.” [WaPo]

HALEY BREAKS WITH TRUMP ON RUSSIA - This is going to come back to haunt her in the waning days of the 2024 campaign when the FSB refuses to help her overcome a five-point polling deficit against Democratic nominee, Rachel Platten. Akbar Shahid Ahmed: “South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told a Senate hearing Wednesday that she opposes two of Trump’s most controversial positions: his determination to build a partnership with Russia and his support for a registry of Muslims in the U.S. ‘Crimea is Ukraine, not Russia,’ Haley said, criticizing Moscow’s two-year occupation of the region and its ongoing conflict with the pro-European government in Ukraine, which has claimed close to 10,000 lives. She would not support lifting Crimea-related sanctions on Russia until President Vladimir Putin makes some concessions to the U.S., she added. ‘Russia is trying to show their muscle right now…. I don’t think that we can trust them,’ Haley said. “ [HuffPost]

FRIENDLY REMINDER ABOUT ONE OF TRUMP’S INAUGURAL PASTORS - Remember: You can’t spell “Jesus Christ” without no less than three of the letters in “Benghazi.” Christopher Mathias: An evangelical pastor who thinks Islam is ‘evil’ is set to deliver prayers on Friday at the inauguration ceremony for a president-elect who thinks ‘Islam hates us.’ Rev. Franklin Graham is among six faith leaders chosen by Donald Trump to offer their prayers, benedictions or other statements during Trump’s swearing-in on Jan. 20…. A month after the 9/11 terror attacks, Graham, speaking at the dedication of a new chapel, told an audience that Islam ‘is a very evil and wicked religion.’ Pressed to clarify his comments by NBC, Graham said, ‘It wasn’t Methodists flying into those buildings, it wasn’t Lutherans. It was an attack on this country by people of the Islamic faith.’” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a dog that’s a chair.

WASHINGTON INSTITUTIONS ALREADY BANNING JOURNALISTS - Damn it, at least give us a chance to consume way too much alcohol at the bar before you do this. Daniel Lippman: “The Trump International Hotel in Washington is banning the media from its premises during inauguration week. “Media is not allowed in this week in respect of the privacy of our guests,’ Patricia Tang, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing wrote in an email. A POLITICO reporter attempted to enter the hotel Wednesday morning for a previously scheduled breakfast meeting but was stopped at the door. He then identified himself as a journalist and was told ‘media’ was not allowed…. The hotel’s decision to ban media from property owned by the federal government and from a hotel controlled by the president-elect comes amid a broader debate over media access to the incoming administration. Trump has resisted forming a protective pool around him, instead opting for a ‘semi-protective pool’ that afford the media less access than previous presidents allowed.” [Politico]

COMFORT FOOD

- Gun TV: Gone too soon.

- Website randomly plays YouTube videos with zero views.

TWITTERAMA

@JPFriere: Hey, folks, haven’t seen very much coverage of Obama’s last Wednesday as President. This is also his last 11:34am on Weds as president.

@anamariecox: Obama probably wasn’t subtweeting DJT when he said, “If your parents don’t brag on you, you got problems,” but I like to think he was.

@Lindsaygoldwert: Trump is going to rewrite the Constitution in Comic Sans

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