The Note: The Unverified Claims Causing Commotion




ANALYSIS: FOR OBAMA, A LEGACY TRUMP WILL HELP DEFINE. Generations from now, a historical oddity will demand explanation. On children’s placemats, and in textbook lists ready for memorization, Barack Obama and Donald Trump will reside as neighbors, ABC’s RICK KLEIN writes. The 44th and 45th presidents of the United States may be “sort of opposites,” as the outgoing president put it in an interview last week. History, though, will link them forever –- a fact that was on Obama’s mind as he delivered his farewell address at Chicago's McCormick Place Tuesday night. “Yes, our progress has been uneven,” the president said. “For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back.” Obama offered praise for “the instrument of our democracy.” Yet it is democracy’s result that leaves his legacy in the balance. And challenges to American democracy are occupying the outgoing president’s brain space in his final days in office.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS' CONFIRMATION HEARING: THE KEY (AND CONTROVERSIAL) MOMENTS. Jeff Sessions was on the offense Monday -- to a certain degree. The Republican senator from Alabama, who is Donald Trump's pick to be the next U.S. attorney general, vehemently disputed "amazing" allegations that he harbors racial bias and claimed he understands the struggles of LGBT Americans. But Sessions also told the Senate Judiciary Committee -- which is holding confirmation hearings this week to consider his nomination to lead the Justice Department -- that remained critical of the H-1B visa program and implied that religion could play an indirect role in whether an individual is accepted into the U.S. ABC’s MIKE LEVINE has more. . LIVE BLOG, courtesy of ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY:

SEN. FRANKEN ACCUSES SEN. SESSIONS OF MISREPRESENTING HIS RECORD ON CIVIL RIGHTS. During yesterday's Senate confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, accused Sen. Sessions, R-Alabama, of misrepresenting the number of desegregation cases he filed as United States attorney in Alabama. “Our country needs an attorney general who doesn't misrepresent or inflate their level of involvement on any given issue,” Franken said. In a 2009 interview with the National Review, Sessions said he handled “20 or 30” civil rights cases -- a claim he was not able to prove when pressed by Franken. ABC’s MERIDITH MCGRAW has more.

IN UNPRECEDENTED MOVE, SEN. CORY BOOKER TO TESTIFY AGAINST JEFF SESSIONS. Senator Cory Booker is so opposed to Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general that the New Jersey Democrat is willing to break precedent. Today, Booker plans to give testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as to why he believes Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions should not be the next attorney general, ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI reports. He will be the first sitting senator to testify against a colleague at a Senate confirmation hearing for a member of the president's cabinet, according to his office.

SESSIONS SAYS TRUMP TAPE COMMENTS WOULD 'CLEARLY' BE SEXUAL ASSAULT. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick to become the next attorney general, further clarified Tuesday his position on controversial comments the president-elect made about women, telling a Senate panel that grabbing women by the genitals without their consent would "clearly" be sexual assault. Several months ago, Sessions came under fire for saying that it would be a “stretch” to call such behavior sexual assault -- a position he clarified shortly afterwards. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Sessions, R-Alabama, went even further, writes ABC’s MIKE LEVINE.

A WALL ALONE 'WILL NOT DO THE JOB,' GEN. KELLY SAYS AT DHS CONFIRMATION HEARING. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, retired four-star Marine Gen. John Kelly, said during his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday regarding a border wall that "a physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job. It has to be really a layered defense," notes ABC’s GENEVA SANDS. "If you were to build a wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico," you would still have to back that wall up with patrolling by human beings, sensors and observation devices, he said.

A LOOK AT TRUMP'S BUSINESS EMPIRE IN THE UNITED STATES. Golf courses in several states. Glittering hotels and condominiums. Even a share in a federally subsidized housing development in Brooklyn. Donald Trump’s business interests in the United States, while concentrated in his home state of New York, run the gamut and appear in at least 10 states and D.C. — ties that critics say could expose him to conflicts of interest when he takes office. ABC’s JAMES HILL has more:

A LOOK INSIDE TRUMP'S GLOBAL BUSINESS INTERESTS. It is a business empire that spans four continents and nearly two dozen countries. But the corporate titan behind these business dealings is none other than the president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump. The real estate mogul’s new role as the leader of the free world while still having his name on properties in foreign lands could complicate trade deals and foreign relations, writes ABC’s JAMES HILL.

THE OBAMA LEGACY: A PROMISE OF HOPE. As Obama turns over the mantle of the presidency to Donald Trump, ABC News examines his legacy. ABC’s GARY WESTPHALEN and SERENA MARSHALL have more:

TRUMP INAUGURATION WILL HAVE ‘SOFT SENSUALITY’ OF DC SAYS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN. The Trump Inauguration Committee Chairman Tom Barrack is promising an atmosphere of "soft sensuality" at the United States Capitol for Donald Trump's inauguration on January 20th. Barrack, addressing the press pool gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower, described the President-elect’s vision for the ceremony in artistic terms, according to ABC’s MERIDITH MCGRAW. "What we've done instead of trying to surround him with what people consider A-listers," he said, "is we are going to surround him with the soft sensuality of the place." Before heading to the Capitol, Trump and his wife Melania will join President and First Lady Obama for "coffee or tea" at the White House before riding together to the event. "That's a great moment, that's a great moment," said Barrack.

MICHELLE OBAMA TWEETS 'SO PROUD OF POTUS...I LOVE YOU BARACK.’ One of the most emotional moments of President Obama's farewell address in Chicago Tuesday night was when he turned his attention to the first lady, professing his love and admiration for his wife of 24 years. Following his address, the first lady took to Twitter to express a similar sentiment, posting a black-and-white photo of the Obamas with daughters Malia and Sasha waiting for the results of his senate bid on election night 2004, notes ABC’s DAVID CAPLAN.

CELEBRITIES, POLITICIANS REACT TO OBAMA'S FAREWELL ADDRESS. President Barack Obama's farewell address in Chicago Tuesday night prompted public figures -- spanning the worlds of politics, entertainment, sports and music -- to take to their social media accounts and gush over the outgoing president and his one-hour send-off, writes ABC’s DAVID CAPLAN.

REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS SPAR OVER CAPITOL PAINTING. House Republicans and Democrats are fighting over a painting that depicts police officers as animals and whether the work should be hanging in a tunnel on Capitol Hill between House offices and the U.S. Capitol Building. Republicans have objected to the painting, by a Missouri high school graduate from the St. Louis area, "Untitled #1," inspired by the Ferguson protests. ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL and MARYALICE PARKS have more.


@realDonaldTrump: Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?

@WayneSlater: Prediction: Trump will emerge as the “victim.” News media will look worse. Good journalism must follow basic standards of proof, evidence.

@KennethMoton: For those wondering...per the @WhiteHouse: Sasha Obama stayed in DC because she has an exam at school in the morning. #educationmatters

@JCNSeverino: Dems underestimated Sessions. He disarmed their gotchas by insisting he would follow the law and hold POTUS constitutionally accountable.

@sunny: Widow of Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a 9 page letter opposing Session's nomination to be a federal judge.