☕ Good Thursday morning.
🔨 Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a likely 2020 candidate, pens a WashPost opinion piece challenging what he sees as unrealistic/unworkable policies popular with Democratic populists, including a federal jobs guarantee and the promise of free college.
⚡ In an interview to air on NBC's "Today," co-anchor Savannah Guthrie asks Nancy Pelosi, who will become House speaker at around 1:30 p.m.: "Do you believe the special counsel should honor and observe the Department of Justice guidance that states a sitting president cannot be indicted?"
Nancy Pelosi is ready to rumble, planning to maintain the unyielding posture she took with Trump in their Oval Office standoff before the shutdown.
House Democrats plan to be aggressive on both an investigations/oversight track and a legislative track, writes Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group:
Excerpts from remarks Pelosi will make when she takes the gavel during the opening session of the 116th Congress (opens at noon, with the speaker vote — which will take about an hour — starting around 12:15 p.m.):
"[We] will call upon the bold thinking needed to address the disparity of income in America, which is at the root of the crisis of confidence felt by so many Americans."
Look at this slide in how activist Congress was in 2010 and 2018 —both second years of presidential terms, with the president's party controlling both chambers.
At noon today, that clogged Congress is being disrupted, with Democrats taking over the House due to victories by activist, restive, insistent freshmen who will change both the face and tone of official Washington.
Only one out of the 36 newly elected female House members is Republican (Carol Miller of West Virginia), according to an analysis by Malliga Och of Idaho State University and Shauna Shames of Rutgers University:
"The 116th Congress will be the most diverse in U.S. history: 126 women will take office, including 43 women of color."
A job posting by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee says it all about the party's new reality beginning today:
Why it matters: After controlling the entire government for two years, Republicans on the Hill and in the White House are assuming a defensive crouch, with incoming House Democratic chairs vowing aggressive investigations.
First look ... Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who today goes from majority leader to minority leader, will say in remarks during today's gavel-handover session:
As Ronald Reagan advised us, America is too great for small dreams. When we work together, we succeed together. We are now entering a period of divided government, but that is no excuse for gridlock and inaction. We are at our best when we focus not on retribution but on building a more perfect union.
President Trump, joined by Vice President Pence, met Republican and Democratic congressional leaders yesterday in the Situation Room.
Most Americans think the economy is growing, but they're worried a recession could be coming this year, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.
By the numbers:
The bottom line: If a recession does come, it could be mild, as Axios' Felix Salmon and Courtenay Brown have written. But it would take away the benefits of a booming economy that helped Trump during his first two years.
Ultima Thule, observed on Tuesday by a NASA spacecraft 4 billion miles from Earth, is the most primitive object ever studied closely by a spacecraft, Axios science editor Andrew Freeman writes:
P.S. ... "China reached a milestone in space exploration on Thursday, landing a vehicle on the far side of the moon for the first time in history, the country’s space agency announced." (N.Y. Times)
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Stocks retreated around the world after Apple warned that its holiday quarter sales would fall billions short of expectations amid exceptionally weak business in China.
While Apple's iPhone problems extend past China, the problems the company saw there could be a sign of deeper troubles, Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried reports:
Apple CEO Tim Cook said that weakness in Greater China (which Apple defines as China, Taiwan and Hong Kong) accounted for nearly all of the company's revenue miss, though it did see other pockets of weakness.
Be smart: The smartphone market has matured. People are happy with a battery upgrade because they are generally happy with their phone.
With volatility rising, "America finally has a stock market to match the man in the Oval Office," Peter Coy writes in the new Bloomberg Businessweek, with Josh Green and Shawn Donnan:
Quote du jour, from the 95-minute, on-camera Cabinet meeting that the N.Y. Times calls "Freewheeling and Fact-Free," and the WashPost says was "filled with falsehoods, revisionist history and self-aggrandizement":
I was here on Christmas evening. I was all by myself in the White House. It's a big, big house, except for all the guys out on the lawn with machine guns — nicest machine guns ever. I was waving to 'em. I never saw so many guys with machine guns in my life — Secret Service and military. These are great people. And they don't play games. They don't, like, wave. They don't even smile. But I was there all alone with the machine gunners, and I felt very safe, ... I have to tell you. They're great people. And there are a lot of them.
Here's the farewell message of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in protest. Trump said at yesterday's Cabinet meeting that he had "essentially" fired the retired four-star Marine general: "What's he done for me? ... I want results."
And here's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who left yesterday amid "federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest":
"It has been a high honor to serve the President and the American People as @Interior Secretary. We have restored our public lands 'for the benefit and enjoyment of the people,' improved public access, and shall never be held hostage again for our energy needs. God Bless America and those who defend her."
Manhattan home prices fell in Q4, with the median slipping under $1 million — a bargain at $999,000 — for the first time in three years, per Bloomberg.
Think America likes football? Here are the top 10 TV shows for the week of Dec. 24-30 according to Nielsen, via AP: