Obama Leaves on a High Note - Yet with Tepid Career Ratings

Boosted by an improving economy, Barack Obama leaves office with his highest levels of job approval and personal popularity since the early days of his presidency. Yet his career-average ratings are in the lower tier. Sixty percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Obama's job performance, the most since June 2009, five months after he took office. Sixty-one percent approve of his handling of the economy, a career high. And as many express a favorable opinion of him personally, the most since November 2009. Yet Obama's ratings in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, reflect a turnaround for him, not his norm. His average job approval rating across his presidency, 50 percent, is in the lower tier, alongside George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Harry Truman and Carter. ABC's GARY LANGER has more: http://abcn.ws/2jZdsCL


On GMA - Kellyanne Conway: Trump Hopes House Dems Will 'Reconsider' Inauguration Snub

Donald Trump hopes that the dozens of congressional Democrats who are planning to boycott Friday's inauguration will change their minds, his senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said today, ABC's MORGAN WINSOR reports. "He recognizes that to move forward we need to come together," Conway said of the president-elect. "We hope that the Democrats who said they're not coming to the inauguration can reconsider," she added. "They certainly are invited, because that's the way that you show America that we're coming together to solve some really significant problems." http://abcn.ws/2k3UX4a


Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning's 35-Year Sentence

President Obama granted a commutation to Chelsea Manning, a transgender soldier who was convicted of Espionage Act violations and other charges for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 and she will now be released in May, according to her lawyer. The documents that were leaked, about the U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, sparked a firestorm, ABC's MEGHAN KENEALLY and LUIS MARTINEZ write. Manning was one of 209 individuals granted commutations and 64 individuals who were given pardons by Obama Tuesday. http://abcn.ws/2jlpAyR


What Trump's Education Secretary Pick Betsy DeVos Said About Guns in Schools

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Education Secretary, raised eyebrows during her confirmation by refusing to say guns shouldn't be in schools and quipping that in one case in Wyoming, they would help protect against grizzly bears. When asked by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) during the hours-long hearing Tuesday night whether she thinks guns have any place in or around schools, DeVos said the issue is “best left to locales and states to decide.” Murphy, who represents Newtown, the site of the 2012 deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, pressed on: “You can’t say definitively today that guns shouldn’t be in schools?” http://abcn.ws/2k0duKq

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