Thursday’s Mini-Report, 1.19.17

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Gambia: “Fearing for his safety, the newly elected president of Gambia was sworn in on Thursday during a ceremony outside his country, part of a tense standoff in which foreign troops have crossed the border, trying to help him take power.”

* A good move borne of desperation: “President-elect Donald Trump has asked roughly 50 senior Obama administration appointees to remain in their posts after his inauguration to ensure continuity in government, his incoming White House press secretary said Thursday. The officials include the highest-ranking career officials at key national security agencies like the Pentagon and State Department.”

* A few more commutations before he leaves: “[O]n Thursday, his last full day in office, [President Obama] announced 330 more commutations, for nonviolent drug offenders, bringing his total number of clemencies to 1,715. He has granted commutations to more people than the past 12 presidents combined, including 568 inmates with life sentences.”

* Under normal circumstances, this would put a nomination in peril: “Steven T. Mnuchin, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick to be Treasury secretary, failed to disclose nearly $100 million of his assets on Senate Finance Committee disclosure documents and forgot to mention his role as a director of an investment fund located in a tax haven, an omission that Democrats said made him unfit to serve in one of the government’s most important positions.”

* Syria: “Russia and Turkey carried out their first joint airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria on Wednesday, further expanding their budding military cooperation, the Russian military said.”

* John Kerry’s last op-ed before leaving office: “As the departing secretary of state, I cannot claim objectivity. But I will leave office convinced that most global trends remain in our favor and that America’s leadership and engagement are as essential and effective today as ever.”

* Some stories are hard to believe: “Jailed former House Speaker Dennis Hastert says a man who accused him of sexual abuse should return $1.7 million in hush money because he broke his silence by talking to the feds.”

* This did not go over well: “The confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s treasury secretary pick went off the rails Thursday when a Republican senator’s joke about giving his Democratic colleague a ‘Valium pill’ went down like a lead balloon.”

* Quite a parting gift: “Bruce Springsteen staged a secret acoustic concert at the White House January 12th to reward President Barack Obama’s staff for their hard work over the past eight years, Backstreets revealed Wednesday. The 15-song set took place in front of approximately 250 staffers in the White House’s East Room, where two months earlier Springsteen was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.


Thursday's Mini-Report, 1.19.17