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AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Sources inside the Trump Administration and on the Hill who are close to Andy Puzder's confirmation process believe he'll probably survive what has been a very shaky nomination. These are their hard-headed calculations, with anonymity provided to allow for candor.

We're tipping the fast food executive gets at least 50 votes, though of course that could change if he has a train-wreck hearing Thursday.

Puzder's problems:

  • Puzder has had just about every problem a nominee can have. He employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. His ex-wife accused him of physical assault then retracted the claim.
  • Democrats are charging he'll be bad for workers because he opposes significantly raising the minimum wage and because of wage violation claims against CKE Restaurants, the company Puzder led.
  • Democrats are set to oppose Puzder en masse, meaning the vote could be as close as the recent one in which Vice President Mike Pence had to use his tie-breaker vote to confirm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
  • The Washington Post reports that at least four Republican Senators are withholding judgment on Puzder: Susan Collins of Maine, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Why we think he's in better shape than reported:

  • He's a Republican donor and leaders like Mitch McConnell and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander — who heads the Senate committee overseeing Puzder's hearings — are genuinely behind him. They're not begrudgingly pushing through one of Trump's guys. Puzder is one of their own.
  • Republican opposition is weaker than it appears. Sources close to the process aren't as worried as we thought they'd be about the Senators named in the Washington Post piece. Even the story itself suggests that at least two of them — Isakson and Scott — are withholding judgment more out of deference to process than due to immutable concerns.
  • The Republican leadership of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — which will question Puzder on Thursday — has learned from the rocky nomination process for Betsy DeVos.
  • Sen. Alexander has wisely thrown a bone to Democrats on the committee. This time he waited for all of Puzder's ethics paperwork to come in before holding the hearing.

Go deeper

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.