An Audience of One

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 15.31.41Friday, January 6, 2017

Good Friday morning.
• A hearing on Russian interference aimed at an audience of one.
Top intelligence officials and senators from both parties on Thursday forcefully reaffirmed the conclusion that the Russian government used hacking and leaks to try to influence the presidential election. In doing so, they directly rebuffed President-elect Donald J. Trump’s repeated questioning of Russia’s role.
The gathering was extraordinary as much for its context as for its content — a public, bipartisan display of support for the intelligence community that seemed aimed, at times, at an audience of one.
• Mr. Trump picks a director of national intelligence.
Former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana is expected to be named the Trump administration’s director of national intelligence. A mild-mannered conservative who served on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, Mr. Coats would be stepping into a position that some in Washington say is superfluous but that will nonetheless be important to Mr. Trump’s administration.
• The transition team gives Obama ambassadors a sharp end date.
Mr. Trump’s transition staff has issued a blanket edict requiring politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day, according to several American diplomats familiar with the plan. The order breaks with decades of precedent by declining to provide even the briefest of grace periods.
It also threatens to leave the United States without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical partners like Britain, Canada and Germany.
• Democrats trying to save Obamacare reach for a lifeline.
With Republican leaders pressing to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, moderate Senate Democrats reached across the aisle on Thursday. They were appealing for Republicans to slow down the repeal efforts and let lawmakers try to find acceptable, bipartisan changes to make the existing law work better.
Democrats had new reason to hope for Republican defections after Speaker Paul D. Ryan said that the repeal measure would cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood.

What We’re Watching


Senior American intelligence officials, including the directors of national intelligence, the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the National Security Agency, will travel to Trump Tower to brief the president-elect on their conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
The final jobs report of the Obama presidency is due out early Friday. It will give a sense of the state of the economy that Mr. Trump will inherit.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will preside over a joint session of Congress in the afternoon to count the votes of the Electoral College and formally declare a winner. Will Democrats use the occasion to voice protests?
The Obamas begin their farewell: Michelle Obama delivers her final speech as first lady during an event Friday morning for the 2017 school counselor of the year.
James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, will be among the officials meeting with President-elect Trump on Friday.

James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, will be among the officials meeting with President-elect Trump on Friday. Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

A Briefing for a Skeptical President-Elect
Think of it as a little like a particularly high-stakes version of Donald J. Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice.” But this time, the president-elect will meet with the intelligence chiefs whose agencies he has been dismissing as incompetent and partisan.
On Friday in New York, Mr. Trump will get a briefing on Russian interference in the presidential election from John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director; James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence; and James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director. It will be identical to the briefing given to President Obama on Thursday, because the incoming president now gets even the most classified details of intelligence sources and methods. The briefing may well include not just the technical details of the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other election targets but also intercepted Russian communications and inside information from spies inside Russia.
The ball will then be in Mr. Trump’s court. He has repeatedly expressed his doubts that Russia was behind the hacking and leaks, noting the intelligence agencies’ failure on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and even putting the word “intelligence” in mocking quotation marks. Will he now change his views?
It was clear from the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday that most senators in both parties accept the intelligence agencies’ finding that Russia was behind the interference during the election. So if Mr. Trump sticks with his skeptical stance, he may find himself facing fairly unified opposition from Congress – as well as from the agencies he will soon command.

Al Drago/The New York Times

In a hearing, top officials and senators of both parties pushed back forcefully in a display that seemed directed solely at President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Dan Coats of Indiana has served on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.

Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Mr. Coats, an amiable Indianan who has just completed his second Senate stint, served on his chamber’s Intelligence Committee and was ambassador to Germany.

An inmate at the United States prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in October. President-elect Donald J. Trump’s campaign vows to reinstate the use of torture — and to fill Guantánamo with “some bad dudes” — have human rights experts fearing that authoritarian regimes will see it as a green light to carry out their own abuses.

John Moore/Getty Images

Although the president-elect has equivocated, his campaign rhetoric favoring the practice has experts concerned that years of progress could be erased and the world plunged into a darker place.

John B. Emerson, the United States ambassador to Germany, greeted President Obama in Berlin in November.

Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The mandate, a break from precedent, could leave the United States without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical partners like Britain, Canada and Germany.

What We’re Reading

Looking beyond the quaint appearance of Mount Airy, N.C., the hometown of the actor Andy Griffith, The Washington Post explores how “yearning for an earlier time, especially prevalent in rural American towns and cities like Mount Airy, helped spur white evangelical Christians to vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.”
News outlets were awash with reports of hate incidents after Mr. Trump’s victory. BuzzFeed News has revisited 28 such incidents to see if they were indeed as they appeared.
King of debt? A new analysis by The Wall Street Journal finds that debts attached to Mr. Trump and his businesses are held by more than 150 institutions. That, the paper writes, broadens the tangle of interests that pose potential conflicts for the incoming president’s administration.
Jay Clayton is a partner with the prominent New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.

Donald Trump Nominates Wall Street Lawyer to Head S.E.C.


Jay Clayton, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell and an adviser to Goldman Sachs, would join several Wall Street alumni in serving in Mr. Trump’s administration.

Pete Buttigieg, right, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., at an event for the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory in June.

Indiana Mayor Running for D.N.C. Chairman


Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, says he wants to avoid a replay of the battle between backers of Hillary Clinton and those of Bernie Sanders.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Trump Takes on Democrats and Health Law in New Twitter Blitz


The president-elect called President Obama’s signature law a “lie” and assailed Democrats for working to preserve it.

The marching band at Talladega College featured on the front page of a local newspaper in Talladega, Ala. The school has become the subject of an impassioned national outcry.

Black College Says Band Will Play at Inaugural Parade


The president of Talladega College issued a statement arguing, in essence, that the presidential inauguration is about something bigger than Donald J. Trump.

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia led the group of Democrats who appealed to Republican leaders to slow down the repeal efforts of the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats Appeal for Compromise: Alter, but Don’t Gut, the Health Law


A group of Democrats sent a letter to Republicans, requesting that they slow down the repeal efforts and instead find bipartisan changes to the existing law.

Linda Haithcox, executive director of the National Policy Alliance, which is funded in part by the Kochs’ organization Fueling U.S. Forward.

Matt Roth for The New York Times

Anticipating a fossil fuel resurgence, the ultraconservative brothers, who run an oil and petroleum conglomerate, are busily expanding their outreach.

George Caleb Bingham’s “The Verdict of the People” (1854–55). Two St. Louis-area women in the arts are fighting to reverse the St. Louis Art Museum’s decision to loan the painting for Donald J. Trump’s inaugural lunch on Jan. 20.

George Caleb Bingham, Saint Louis Art Museum

A petition is calling on the institution to cancel its loan of George Caleb Bingham’s “The Verdict of the People” for a luncheon on Jan. 20.

Tucker Carlson is a former co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire” and founder of the Daily Caller, a right-leaning news and opinion site.

The Daily Caller

Mr. Carlson’s selection is a swift conclusion to an anchor sweepstakes that emerged on Tuesday, when Ms. Kelly announced that she would be leaving for NBC News.

Prop styling by Pink Sparrow. Photo illustration by Jamie Chung

After a maker of surveillance software was hacked, its leaked documents shed light on a shadowy global industry that has turned email theft into a terrifying — and lucrative — political weapon.