Morning Must Reads for Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 348th day of the year. There are 18 days remaining in 2016.

Stewart casts doubt on claims Russia tried to help Donald Trump get elected. Trump taps Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. Trump reportedly is set to nominate former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for secretary of energy.

The clock:

  • Six days until the Electoral College meets to cast their votes for president and vice president (12/19/2016)
  • 38 days until Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President (1/20/2017)
  • 41 days until the first day of the 2017 Utah Legislature (1/23/2017)
  • 86 days until the final day of the 2017 Utah Legislature (3/9/2017)
  • 329 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)
  • 693 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)

Ten talking points for Tuesday:

  1. Trump vs. the CIA vs. Russia. Rep. Chris Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, says reports that the CIA concluded Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump are just wrong [Utah Policy, Tribune, Deseret News]. Here’s the video of our interview with Stewart [Utah Policy]. U.S. intelligence agencies say they based their assessment about Russia wanting to help Trump in part on evidence showing the election hacking efforts were mostly targeted at Democrats and Hillary Clinton [Washington Post]. Highly placed intelligence sources say they have “high confidence” the hacking activity during the election came from the G.R.U. – Russia’s largest intelligence agency [CBS News]. Here’s a primer on the whole Russian hacking issue [CNN]. Donald Trump has cast doubts on the CIA’s conclusion that Russia tried to help him get elected, but the White House shot back at Trump’s insinuation that the CIA’s conclusion cannot be trusted [Wall Street Journal]. Congressional Republicans want to limit the scope of any investigations into the Russian hacking issue [The Hill].
  2. The Final Countdown. It’s time for our annual countdown of the top-10 Utah political stories of the year. Here are some of the big stories from 2016 that didn’t quite make our final list [Utah Policy].
  3. It’s Tillerson. Donald Trump taps Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State nominee [Wall Street Journal]. Tillerson’s road to Senate confirmation is not a smooth one [Politico].
  4. Bombshell! Donald Trump may already be making decisions that run contrary to American foreign policy in order to protect his business interests abroad [Newsweek]. 
  5. Perry to Energy Dept. Donald Trump reportedly intends to nominate former Texas Governor Rick Perry as secretary of energy [CBS News].
  6. Exit strategy. Donald Trump said late Monday night he would hand over control of his business empire to his adult sons before he takes office [Washington Post]. Trump cancels his first news conference since the election where he was expected to address how he would separate his business interests from his duties as president [Wall Street Journal]. A new poll shows voters doubt that Trump can keep his business interests separate [Politico].
  7. Religious liberty law redux. Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz plan on re-introducing a “religious freedom” law that would ban the federal government from imposing sanctions against individuals or corporations who have a religious or “moral” opposition to same-sex marriage [Talking Points Memo].
  8. Public funds for porn fight. The eagle-eyed Robert Gehrke points out that Gov. Gary Herbert‘s budget proposal includes $50,000 for anti-pornography efforts [Tribune].
  9. F-35 on the block? Donald Trump tweets that costs for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are “out of control.” That could have big implications for Hill Air Force Base [Tribune]. Sen. Orrin Hatch plans to speak with Trump and make the case to save the F-35 [Deseret News].
  10. Love for GOP Leadership? As we told you last week, Rep. Mia Love appears to be laying the groundwork to run for the #4 leadership spot in the House GOP if Rep. McMorris Rodgers is tapped as interior secretary by Donald Trump [Deseret News].

On this day in history:

  • 1862 – Union troops suffered a major defeat in the Civil War battle of Fredericksburg. An estimated 12,000 northern soldiers were killed or wounded, about three times the toll suffered by Confederate forces.
  • 1918 – President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France to attend the post-World War I peace conference at Versailles, becoming the first chief executive to visit Europe while in office.
  • 2001 – The Pentagon released a captured videotape of Osama bin Laden in which the al-Qaida leader said the deaths and destruction achieved by the Sept. 11 attacks exceeded his “most optimistic” expectations.
  • 2003 – Ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole under a farmhouse in Adwar, near his hometown of Tikrit.