The Note: Trump's Rift Over Russia with U.S. Intelligence

ByABC News
January 4, 2017, 9:21 AM


--TRUMP TAKES TO TWITTER ON RUSSIA HACKING THIS MORNING:7:22 AM: "Julian Assange said "a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta" - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!"8:10 AM: ""@FoxNews: Julian Assange on U.S. media coverage: “It’s very dishonest.” #Hannity " More dishonest than anyone knows"8:27 AM: Somebody hacked the DNC but why did they not have "hacking defense" like the RNC has and why have they not responded to the terrible......8:31 AM: things they did and said (like giving the questions to the debate to H). A total double standard! Media, as usual, gave them a pass.


--FUGITIVE ASSANGE BACKS TRUMP IN QUESTIONING RUSSIA'S HACKING ROLE. President-elect Donald Trump revealed on Tuesday that his classified briefing on Russian political hacking is slated for Friday, while continuing to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence agencies’ investigation, suggesting that they don’t have their ducks in a row, according to ABC's BRIAN ROSS and PAUL BLAKE. Joining Trump in casting doubt on the intelligence community, fugitive computer activist Julian Assange appeared in an interview on Fox News from his hideout at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” the president-elect tweeted. Assange – whose WikiLeaks website is at the center of the hacking drama for its role in publishing thousands of embarrassing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee – gave an interview to Fox News’ Sean Hannity which aired on the network late on Tuesday. Asked by the Trump-aligned TV personality if he could confidently say that Russia was not the source of the stolen emails, Assange replied: “We can say – we have said repeatedly – over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.”

--TRUMP CASTS DOUBT ON INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY OVER 'SO-CALLED' RUSSIAN HACKING. Donald Trump continues to remain indignant about claims that Russia is responsible for cyberassaults on the US, taking to Twitter Tuesday night to reiterate his skepticism. In a single tweet, Trump questioned the prevailing notion that Russia has been hacking US entities -- despite 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concluding that top Russian officials helped orchestrate cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee and members of Hillary Clinton's campaign -- and he also seemed to question the validity of such agencies overall, ABC's DAVID CAPLAN reports. The president-elect tweeted, "The 'Intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!" While the basis of Trump's tweet is that the intelligence briefing was slated for Tuesday and bumped to Friday, a source familiar with the matter tells ABC News that the briefing had always been slated for Friday.

--TODAY: PENCE VS. OBAMA ON CAPITOL HILL. Vice President-elect Mike Pence returns to Capitol Hill today to meet with House and Senate Republicans to discuss the party's strategy for repealing and replacing Obamacare. "The president-elect has a very clear message for Capitol Hill, and that is, it’s time to get to work," Pence told reporters Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York City. "And it’s time to keep our word to the American people and make this country great again, make it prosperous again." Meanwhile, President Obama will huddle with the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, where he’ll trumpet the progress made thanks to the Affordable Care Act, as well as the dangers posed by Congressional Republicans' stated strategy to repeal the law before proposing any replacement, ABC's BEN SIEGEL and JOHN PARKINSON report. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said on MSNBC this morning that he won't attend the meeting with Obama. "In good conscience, I can't do it," he said. "We have the outgoing president coming up here today to talk to only Democrats. Only Democrats....I just think it's absolutely wrong."

--IN OTHER NEWS FROM TRUMP'S TWITTER THIS MORNING...8:19 AM: Thank you to Ford for scrapping a new plant in Mexico and creating 700 new jobs in the U.S. This is just the beginning - much more to follow8:55 AM: Republicans must be careful in that the Dems own the failed ObamaCare disaster, with its poor coverage and massive premium increases......9:01 AM: like the 116% hike in Arizona. Also, deductibles are so high that it is practically useless. Don't let the Schumer clowns out of this web...

--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Careful what you wish for – and for what you can’t see coming. Donald Trump appears to have bailed out House leadership on day one of the new Congress, convincing rank-and-file members to roll back an ill-timed gutting of the House ethics process. But how it went down should serve as a warning to anyone prepared to do business with – or against – Trump. His Tweets, though mild by Trump standard – it’s still not clear that he opposes the ethics reforms, or just the timing – scrambled Capitol Hill, making a likely undoing of the changes inevitable. This time, Trump was working on the same side as House Republican leaders. But what about next time? Tweets twisting arms represent a new dynamic for lawmakers to adjust to. With vice-president-elect Mike Pence on the Hill Wednesday to strategize opposite President Obama, it may not be just Democrats who are nostalgic for those good old days.

--ICYMI: HOUSE GOP WITHDRAWS MOVE TO GUT ETHICS WATCHDOG AFTER BACKLASH: House Republicans reversed plans to gut a congressional ethics watchdog on Tuesday after a backlash that included criticism from President-elect Donald Trump over the timing of the move. Late Monday night House GOP members voted to dramatically restructure the Office of Congressional Ethics, putting the independent office under the jurisdiction of a congressional committee, note ABC’s MARY BRUCE and MARYALICE PARKS. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the timing of the change was poor and should not have been the first priority for the newly-elected Congress.


TILLERSON AND EXXONMOBIL STRIKE DEAL TO SEVER TIES IF CONFIRMED. ExxonMobil announced Tuesday night that its board of directors has reached an agreement with the oil and gas company's former chairman and chief executive officer to comply with conflict of interest requirements, if he is indeed confirmed secretary of state. Tillerson's confirmation hearings are slated to begin next week. According to an ExxonMobil press release, the net effect of the agreement is "a reduction of approximately $7 million in compensation" owed to Tillerson, who retired on December 31 after 40 years of service with the multinational company, ABC's DAVID CAPLAN reports. In addition to the agreement with ExxonMobil, Tillerson has also "committed" to the State Department that he would sell the more than 600,000 shares in ExxonMobil he currently owns, the release said.

NAACP LEADERS ARRESTED PROTESTING SESSIONS NOMINATION. NAACP president Cornell William Brooks was arrested Tuesday night after staging a sit-in protest at the Mobile, Alabama, office of Republican senator Jeff Sessions, who is Donald Trump's Attorney General nominee. Alabama NAACP president Bernard Simelton and other NAACP members were also arrested, ABC's JOHN VERHOVEK reports. In an interview with ABC News Tuesday, Brooks said that they were removed from Senator Sessions' Mobile congressional office after protesting for over six hours. They were arrested and taken to jail, and currently have a court date set for January 30. "We were clear today: We want others to participate in acts of civil disobedience," Brooks said. "This is a matter of ongoing opposition to someone with a clear, anti-civil rights record in Senator Session."

FORMER TRUMP ADVERSARY JAVIER PALOMAREZ JOINS ADMINISTRATION'S DIVERSITY COALITION. President-elect Donald Trump's national diversity coalition has a new -- and previously adversarial -- adviser: U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president Javier Palomarez. ABC News has confirmed that Palomarez -- whose organization endorsed GOP candidate John Kasich during primary season and Hillary Clinton for the general election -- has accepted the Trump transition team's offer. But the pair have butted heads in the past, ABC's DAVID CAPLAN reports. In October 2015, ABC News reported that then-GOP presidential front-runner Trump backed out of the USHCC's Presidential Candidate Q&A Session after the organization said Trump found out he would be asked about his plans to deport undocumented immigrants.

DONALD TRUMP THREATENS GENERAL MOTORS WITH BORDER TAX. President-elect Donald Trump threatened General Motors with a border tax on its vehicles assembled at a GM factory in Mexico Tuesday morning, tweeting that the company is sending the Chevy Cruze to the United States tax-free. "General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border,” he wrote. “Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!" General Motors responded, saying it a statement it assembles the Cruze sedan in the United States for the domestic market and the hatchback version in Mexico for foreign markets. ABC’s KATHERINE FAULDERS has more:

HILLARY AND BILL CLINTON TO ATTEND DONALD TRUMP INAUGURATION, AIDES SAY. Hillary and Bill Clinton plan to attend the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, their respective aides say. Former presidents from both parties typically attend inaugurations, but Hillary Clinton’s presence takes on added meaning given that the former first lady was President-elect Donald Trump’s main opponent in the 2016 race, write ABC’s JOSH HASKELL and MEGHAN KENEALLY. Former presidents from both parties typically attend inaugurations (George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will be there as will the Carters), but Hillary Clinton's presence takes on added meaning, given that the former first lady was Donald Trump’s main opponent in the 2016 race.

FOUR THINGS TO WATCH AS REPUBLICANS TAKE CONTROL OF 115TH CONGRESS. Republicans return to Washington this week with ambitious, conservative plans for the country’s health care system and tax code, and aim to roll back many of President Obama’s executive actions and his environmental legacy. But while they prepare for Donald Trump’s administration, Republicans must also guide his Cabinet picks through confirmation in the Senate, and address persistent calls to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 election. As Republicans map out their most conservative agenda in decades, ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL notes four areas to watch in Washington this year:

ANALYSIS: TRUMP ASSERTS INDEPENDENCE, IF BARELY, IN TWEAKING HOUSE GOP OVER ETHICS. Surely Donald Trump didn’t run for president to protect members of Congress from its own watchdogs. Which is why Trump reacted to House Republicans’ attempted takeover of the ethics enforcement process with a critique, though not a condemnation. Facing a fierce backlash, House leaders abruptly withdrew the changes on Tuesday. But they could likely reappear in a different form later this year, making the question of Trump's stance still relevant, ABC’s RICK KLEIN writes. The president-elect offered his tweak via a pair of tweets, saying Congress should focus on things other than “the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it ... may be.”

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL ETHICS. In a quick turnaround, a GOP-backed amendment to make sweeping changes to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was swiftly withdrawn, after a wave of negative reactions. The amendment, which was adopted during a late-night session ahead of Tuesday’s formal start of the 115th Congress, effectively planned to do away with the OCE's ability to act autonomously and prevent them from making their findings public without congressional oversight. Instead, the proposed amendment was withdrawn by unanimous consent. ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS and MEGHAN KENEALLY explain the work done by the OCE:


@rickklein: @jonkarl just actually dabbed @GMA. Or tried to. Will need expert opinion.

@mikeallen: What you wish you had at this moment ... My new newsletter, @axios AM, hits inboxes next week. 1-click subscription:

@scottwongDC: Ryan says he doesn't want to get into that but calls Assange a "sycophant for Russia" and someone who leaks and steals data

@JesseFFerguson: PEOTUS's ego leads him to go for blaming the victim and siding with the enemy.

@ryanstruyk: this dabbing story makes me want 2016 back