Good Sunday morning. Situational awareness: A week and a day till 🎅 ... "Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds 50% prefer Democrats to lead Congress after next year's midterms; 39% prefer Republicans." ... CDC ban on using "fetus," "transgender" and "science-based" in budget documents alarms experts. ... On "60 Minutes" tonight, "Too Big to Prosecute": the story of DEA's biggest case ever against a drug company. WashPost version here.
Mueller departs a closed-door Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in June. (AP's J. Scott Applewhite)
NEW: Officials of President Trump's transition team plan to ask Special Counsel Robert Mueller to return "many tens of thousands" of transition emails they contend were unlawfully provided to him. But the prosecutor's office says emails being used in the investigation were properly obtained.
Be smart / What's next: Republicans, who have been raising increasing questions about Mueller's office, are prepared to argue that if emails were obtained by questionable means, that could taint or undermine the investigation.
What happened: Axios reported yesterday afternoon that officials of Trump's Presidential Transition Team, his office for the 73 days between the election and the inauguration, discovered that Mueller had obtained huge caches of emails from the General Services Administration, the government agency that hosted the transition's "ptt.gov" emails.
Why it matters: The transition emails are said to include sensitive exchanges on matters such as potential appointments, gossip about the views of particular senators involved in the confirmation process, speculation about vulnerabilities of Trump nominees, strategizing about press statements, and policy planning on everything from war to taxes.
Taking the fight public: Charging "unlawful conduct," Kory Langhofer, counsel for the transition team, wrote in a letter to congressional committees Saturday that "career staff at the General Services Administration ... have unlawfully produced [transition team] private materials, including privileged communications, to the Special Counsel's Office."
Go deeper: 7-page PDF of the letter.
Photo: LucasFilm via AP
With this weekend's release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it's almost assured that the latest entry in the Skywalker saga will become the highest-grossing film of 2017 at the North American box office, jumping over Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman, Axios' Shane Savitsky writes:
Be smart: This really is the year of women striking back, from the #MeToo movement that has toppled notorious harassers, to the dominance of their characters on the big screen to the record number who are considering running for office.
Evening at amusement park in Krakow, Poland (Beata Zawrzel / NurPhoto via Getty)
The Pentagon had a UFO office — the "Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program" — that still exists informally, the N.Y. Times reveals:
What's out there:
Pope Francis blows a candle today on his 81st birthday, during a private audience with children in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano / Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis told Catholic media yesterday that dredging up old scandals and sensationalizing the news is a "very serious sin," AP reports:
The Wall Street Journal's great Michael M. Phillips hast the best read of the weekend, "One Nation, Divisible: In a Divided Nation of Big Cities and Small Towns, Caity Cronkhite Thought She Knew Where She Belonged":
Axios' Amy Harder tweets: "As someone who left (some may say escaped) the tiny rural town where I grew up, a lot of this rings true to me."
The Capitol dome, silhouetted by the rising sun (AP's Carolyn Kaster)
Tax experts say the new legislation "fails to eliminate long-standing incentives for companies to move overseas and, in some cases, may even increase them," the WashPost's David J. Lynch writes in the Business section lead:
What's changing: "Under current law, the 35% corporate tax is due on profit earned overseas only when it is returned stateside. The legislation ... would permit the estimated $2.6 trillion that corporations have stockpiled outside the country to return to the United States subject to a rate expected to be around 15%."
But the fine print of the new global minimum tax could make the problem worse for three reasons, nonpartisan tax specialists said:
Be smart: The new law will include lots of what you might call unintended consequences — although often they were intended by the hidden hands that put them there.
Winners, from AP Economics Writer Josh Boak:
How it's playing ... N.Y. Times lead story, "TAX BILL UPENDS LONGTIME PERKS OF OWNING HOME: DEDUCTIONS PARED BACK — Some Economists Fault Rewards for Buying Instead of Renting." (Online: "Homeowners Have Had It Good. Too Good, Says the Tax Bill.")
Sheila Nevins with Warren Buffett and HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler, at "Becoming Warren Buffett'" premiere in New York in January (Jamie McCarthy / Getty)
Maureen Dowd reports on the N.Y. Times "Sunday Styles" front ... "The Grande Dame of Documentary Is Leaving Her Home at HBO ... [Sheila Nevins] has reels of memorable film, a pile of awards and plenty of perspective on the current battle of the sexes":
"A Prairie Home Companion" has a new name — "Live from Here" — after Garrison Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio over alleged workplace misconduct. Chris Thile, the mandolin virtuoso who succeeded Keillor, announced the name last evening, opening a live performance in New York.
AP's Eric Gay
Reliving 2017 in 30 images ... This is a memorial to a year of too much mass violence. At Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church in Texas, each of these 26 white chairs is painted with a cross and and rose, in tribute to the parishioners who were lost when a man opened fire inside the church in November.
As part of our weekend "My 6 big things" series, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, tells us a worthy part of her morning routine: