A Hat Trick of Appointments

Wednesday, December 7, 2016Screen Shot 2016-12-07 at 9.00.57 PM

Good afternoon.
President-elect Donald J. Trump‘s cabinet is coming together — and quickly.
Mr. Trump’s transition team rolled out a series of high-level picks on Wednesday. They included John F. Kelly, a retired Marine general, for secretary of homeland security; Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma to lead the Environmental Protection Agency; and Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa for ambassador to China.
Mr. Trump appears set to keep that momentum going on Thursday, when he will again be in Trump Tower for a steady stream of meetings. One highlight: James G. Stavridis, a retired admiral who was floated in the summer as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton. Transition officials have said they hope to announce the rest of Mr. Trump’s national security appointments, including secretary of state, by the end of next week.
Much of Mr. Trump’s day Thursday, though, will be spent outside New York. The first stop is Columbus, Ohio, where he plans to meet with the victims and first responders of the Nov. 28 stabbing attacks at Ohio State University. From there, Mr. Trump will continue on to Iowa for another stop in his extended, post-election “thank you” tour of the states he won.

What We’re Watching

Raise a glass: Farewells continue as Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the retiring minority leader, delivers his goodbye address from the Senate floor on Thursday. Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are expected to celebrate Mr. Reid later in the day.
Mr. Trump’s Thursday night rally will be in Des Moines, the capital of another state he turned red last month.
How quickly will President Obama sign the 21st Century Cures Act into law? The sprawling, bipartisan legislation passed the Senate on Wednesday, delivering him a final legislative achievement.
There is still work to be done on Capitol Hill, though. Most pressingly: the passage of a short-term spending measure to keep the government open past Friday.
Mr. Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, host their last congressional ball at the White House on Thursday night.
James N. Mattis, Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense, met with Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, at the Capitol on Wednesday.
James N. Mattis, Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense, met with Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, at the Capitol on Wednesday. Al Drago/The New York Times

A Fight Brews Over a Waiver for Mattis

James N. Mattis, the well-respected retired Marine Corps general whom Mr. Trump wants to lead his Pentagon, may have a problem on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Mattis, who retired from the Marines Corps only in 2013, is still well within the seven-year period required before a former military officer is eligible to lead the department. If he is to be nominated for the position, Congress will need to waive the requirement.
Republicans want to insert such a waiver into the short-term spending bill they need to pass to keep the government open past Friday. But Democrats have little interest in speeding along any of Mr. Trump’s plans. At least one lawmaker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has said she opposes a waiver on principle — all but ensuring a fight over Mr. Mattis.
The cooling-off period comes from a provision in the National Security Act of 1947aimed at ensuring civilian control of the military. The law, which significantly realigned the structure of the country’s defense and intelligence agencies after World War II, stipulated that a person who has within 10 years been on active duty as a commissioned officer in a regular component of the armed services shall not be eligible for appointment as secretary of defense. (The requirement was reduced to seven years in 2008.)
There is precedent for overriding the provision. In 1950, Congress voted to waive it so that President Harry S. Truman could name Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army’s chief of staff during World War II, to lead the military.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, indicated on Wednesday that Mr. Obama would sign legislation including the waiver should it come before him.
Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Mr. Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, has been a key architect of the legal battle against President Obama’s climate change policies.

Gen. John F. Kelly left the Trump National Golf Club after a meeting with the president-elect in Bedminster, N.J., last month.

Hilary Swift for The New York Times

General Kelly had a 40-year career in the Marine Corps. In 2010, one of his sons was killed while leading a platoon in Afghanistan.

Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Hilary Swift for The New York Times

In selecting Mr. Branstad, who likes to describe President Xi Jinping as an “old friend,” the president-elect was using a softer tone alongside his unrelenting criticism of China.

Demonstrating outside the Supreme Court in March 2015 during arguments in King v. Burwell. The protesters held signs with estimates of the numbers who could lose health insurance in each state if the verdict went against the Affordable Care Act.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Republicans may try to “repeal and delay” Obamacare. But controlling the timing of the program’s demise could be tricky.

What We’re Reading

Asma Khalid, a reporter for NPR,  spent most of the year reporting from  across the country. In a personal essay, she shares her experiences as a Muslim woman covering the campaign. [NPR]
Several years ago, The New York Times reported on how Apple uses various tax loopholes to avoid paying large tax bills in the United States. Today, Bloomberg has a another chapter in that story, showing how even profits kept “overseas” are invested in American Treasury bonds, earning returns paid by American taxpayers. [Bloomberg]
Mr. Trump raised eyebrows by taking a phone call from President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who has been accused of gross human rights abuses in his antidrug campaign. The photographer Daniel Berehulak  has a powerful, albeit graphic, photo essay about the thousands of killings in the Philippines. [NYT]
Foreign leaders and conservatives groups are flocking to Mr. Trump’s new hotel in Washington. [Washington Post]
Time magazine named Mr. Trump its Person of the Year. [Time]
President-elect Donald J. Trump and Robert L. Johnson, the founder of the television network BET, in Bedminster, N.J., last month.

What It’s Like to Apply for a Job in Donald Trump’s White House


Mr. Trump’s approach to filling his cabinet is much like the way he runs his business, according to those who have interviewed to be in his administration.

A demolition zone in the Hill District in Pittsburgh in 1957, in an area of historically African-American neighborhoods.

Why Trump’s Use of the Words ‘Urban Renewal’ Is Scary for Cities


Among scholars and many city dwellers, the phrase is remembered for its vast destruction of minority communities and social networks.

Doughmore Bay, seen from a Trump Organization golf club near Doonbeg, Ireland.

Tiny Snail Defeats Donald Trump in Battle Over Irish Sea Wall


The president-elect’s real estate organization has abandoned plans to build a long barrier off the west coast of Ireland to protect its golf course there.

During a news conference at a Manhattan hotel in July, Donald J. Trump announced that Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana would be his running mate.

Donald Trump Is Time’s Person of the Year, to No One’s Surprise


The magazine called Mr. Trump the “president of the divided states of America” and named Hillary Clinton its runner-up.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence spoke on Tuesday night at a gathering hosted by the right-leaning Heritage Foundation.

Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

Mr. Trump’s upset victory last month has left many groups eager to brand the triumph as their own.

Lawyers outside the Supreme Court after opening arguments in Salam v. United States in October.

Andrew Mangum for The New York Times

Justices reaffirmed a broad approach to proving insider trading on tips, in contrast with a ruling by New York’s circuit court.

Donald J. Trump toured the Carrier plant in Indianapolis last week after announcing a deal that will retain some jobs that Carrier had planned to move to Mexico.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President-elect Trump made many pledges on the campaign trail. Here’s a look at where he’ll have the least, and the most, resistance.

President-elect Donald J. Trump spoke at a rally on Tuesday in Fayetteville, N.C.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

The president-elect said “we’ve come a long way” about his relationship with Mr. Romney, who sharply criticized Mr. Trump during the campaign.