Good Wednesday morning — 9 days till President Trump. His 11 a.m. presser in New York will blot out the media sun, with the broadcast networks planning to interrupt for live coverage and analysis. I'll be there, tweeting news @Axios and @MikeAllen.
Following her decision not to take a formal White House role, Ivanka Trump plans to stay out of the spotlight for a few months as her family moves to D.C., hoping the temperature goes down on nepotism questions involving her husband, Jared Kushner. But then she'll begin taking high-profile stands on policies aimed at women's entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. A well-wired source tells me her focus will be consistent with her brand: issues affecting women who work, including family leave and equal pay.
Nothing unsettles Republicans we talk to more than Trump's unbending defense of Russia and Vladimir Putin — in public defiance of the intelligence community he will run in 10 days. Many think THIS is the the issue that could rattle his presidency. So when CNN reported and BuzzFeed posted in full UNVERIFIED, one-source allegations of Russia's possession of blackmail-worthy material on Trump, Twitter exploded … critics pounded … and Trump tweeted: "FAKE NEWS. A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!"
—Deep breath, folks: This was one-source, unverified info gathered for anti-Trumpers by a former British intelligence officer some U.S. spies find credible. It was deemed worthy of sharing with Obama and Trump by U.S. officials BUT never proven.
—Russia weighed in overnight, calling this "absolute fabrication," according to Interfax. Just asking: Would they really tell us if they had the goods on the president-elect?
Dieter Bohn, executive editor and a founder of The Verge, notes the "Twitter gold" in the unverified report: "US intelligence agencies and multiple journalists haven't verified these claims to a sufficient degree that they feel comfortable publishing them. And yet here we are, … making jokes."
Frank Bruni's columnizes: "[A] typical Conway television interview … is a circus of euphemisms, a festival of distractions and a testament to the stamina of a willed smile. She looks cheery when attacking, even cheerier when attacked … She's … like the David Blaine of political spin, intent on working feats of magic."
POTUS drops the mic, in Chicago, with a 53-minute address carried live by the broadcast nets: "My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. (Applause.) I won't stop. In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days."
The news, from Zuck's Facebook page: "Priscilla and I are excited to announce that David Plouffe is joining the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to lead our policy and advocacy effort and Ken Mehlman will lead our policy advisory board. … David and Ken will announce more members of the policy advisory board over the next few months."
Kara Swisher, on a State Visit to Washington, taped a "Recode Decode" podcast with top political operatives Hilary Rosen, a Democrat, and Juleanna Glover, a Republican. The three dive deep into how the merger climate could shift under Trump:
A Wall Street Journal front-pager gives a primer on "America's Fastest-Growing Loan Category" — energy-conscious loans, which have "Eerie Echoes of Subprime Crisis." The loans are " designed to encourage homeowners to buy energy-efficient solar panels, window insulation and air-conditioning units … Creditworthiness matters little to lenders, because loans are based on the value of a homeowner's property." Plumbers and repairmen essentially functioning as loan brokers. What could go wrong?
Volkswagen is close to a $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. government — AP calls it an "imminent criminal plea deal" — after admitting it cheated and lied about its diesel emissions.
"Diet Coke is not killing you" — Yvette d'Entremont (@TheSciBabe) for The Outline: "You should mainly be drinking water. But Diet Coke and all the other artificially sweetened beverages out there are not going to make you fat, give you cancer, or kill your tastebuds. Like so many other things in life, moderation is the key. … Now if you'll excuse me, I think I see that third nipple sprouting. … This piece has been updated to reflect the fact that any acidic drink, Diet Coke or otherwise, will contribute to oral decay." https://theoutline.com/post/842/diet-coke-is-not-killing-you
WHAT'D I MISS? Thank you for your tips, rants, leaks — keep 'em coming: firstname.lastname@example.org.