-- INAUGURATION COUNTDOWN: 17 days
--HOUSE REPUBLICANS EFFECTIVELY GUT ETHICS WATCHDOG: Late last night, House Republicans voted to put the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under control of the chamber's Ethics Committee -- a move that Democrats slammed just hours before the new Congress is sworn in. The language limits the reviews that can be conducted as well as the time frame in which alleged violations can be considered, reports ABC's TOM LIDDY. It also prohibits the board of the new office from employing a press spokesperson. And it stipulates that if criminal violations are uncovered that they'll be sent to the Ethics Committee first. The new U.S. House will vote on the new rules this afternoon. http://abcn.ws/2j2uZ0b
--ON THE CALENDAR FOR TOMORROW: Senior sources confirm to ABC News that Vice President-elect Pence will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday to meet with House Republicans. Pence's meetings will focus on the incoming White House agenda, including repealing and replacing Obamacare.
SPEED READ with ABC’s ADAM KELSEY
TRUMP TO NOMINATE ROBERT LIGHTHIZER AS U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE. President-elect Donald Trump officially says he intends to nominate Robert Lighthizer as United States Trade Representative, reports ABC's KATHERINE FAULDERS. The Cabinet-level post will likely play a crucial role in the upcoming Trump administration, as the President-elect campaigned on renegotiating trade deals with China and Mexico and opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "Ambassador Lighthizer served under President Ronald Reagan as Deputy United States Trade Representative, playing a major role in developing trade policy for the Reagan Administration and negotiating roughly two dozen bilateral international agreements on a variety of topics from steel to grain. These agreements were uniformly tough and frequently resulted in significant reductions in the shipment of unfairly traded imports into the United States," said a transition team statement. http://abcn.ws/2j03P6e
KELLYANNE CONWAY SAYS TRUMP 'NOT MAKING POLICY AT THE MOMENT' ON NORTH KOREA TWEET. Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said this morning that while the president-elect is putting North Korea "on notice," he’s also "not making policy at the moment" regarding his tweet that North Korea will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States. Trump's tweet referred to the annual New Year's address given by North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, in which he said that his country is in the "final stages" of preparing an intercontinental ballistic missile, reports ABC's MICHAEL HAYDEN. North Korea has previously conducted several medium and long-range missile tests, and has been rebuked in the past by U.S. leaders for its nuclear ambitions. Conway categorized Trump's remarks as a warning to North Korea against pursuing such ambitions, which she said "could be deployed to reach Seattle almost immediately," according to unnamed experts. "The president of the United States will stand between them and missile capabilities," Conway said of North Korea. http://abcn.ws/2j3ZIdo
TRUMP ON WHETHER HE THOUGHT HE WOULD LOSE OR WIN ELECTION. Donald Trump is pushing back against "media outlets" and "pundits" that he said he was going to lose the election, but one person may disagree with that assertion -- Donald Trump. "Various media outlets and pundits say that I thought I was going to lose the election. Wrong, it all came together in the last week and.....I thought and felt I would win big, easily over the fabled 270 (306). When they cancelled fireworks, they knew, and so did I," Trump tweeted last night, reports ABC's TOM LIDDY. But in Wisconsin last month, during a leg of his "Thank You" tour, he appeared to give the opposite impression, recounting a lengthy discussion he had with his wife on election night. "But anyway - so I got the bad news from my daughter," he told the crowd in West Allis. "And I said, that's too bad. So I go and see my wife. I said baby, I tell you what. We're not going to win tonight because the polls have come out...It's just looking bad, but you know what, I'm okay with it because of the fact that I couldn't have worked any harder." http://abcn.ws/2j2EE7d
DONALD TRUMP IS NO 'EMAIL PERSON' BUT 'KNOWS THINGS ABOUT HACKING.' Although Donald Trump said this weekend that he knows “things that other people don’t know” about email hacking, he has also repeatedly admitted that he is “not an email person” and “almost never” sends it. Asked Saturday about the Russian hacking allegations, President-elect Trump continued to cast doubt on the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies. “If you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong. And so I want them to be sure,” Trump told reporters, apparently referring to U.S. intelligence. ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY has more: http://abcn.ws/2iwfQkS
@rickklein: Conway says there's been an "overzealousness" of congressional investigations under old regime. So, no Trump Tweet on topic? @GMA
@kfaulders: Welp. Trump's name did appear in the credits of the season premier of Celebrity Apprentice tonight...
@RepGoodlatte: Rules amdt approved by House GOP strengthens Office of Cong Ethics & improves upon due process rights. Does nothing to impede OCE’s work.
@matthewjdowd: Yes, washington dc fundamentally needs to change. Starting with better ethics, solid integrity, rebuilding trust, and more humility.