Donald Trump flashes renegade spirit by siding with Julian Assange over US intelligence

Renegade in chief

Donald Trump plans to govern exactly how he ran his campaign: Through unpredictable tweets that pivot the conversation without warning. Our first glimpse into the president-elect's Washington, D.C., management strategy foreshadows four years of monitoring Trump's Twitter presence, a continuation of the method that consistently brought his campaign massive media attention.

From rebuking his own party on ethics to attacking U.S. intelligence agencies (more on that later), the president-elect found a way to easily break precedent on the first day of a new Congress. And his willingness to buck House Republicans to align himself with Democrats and GOP leadership, however politically calculated, hinted Trump will bring a degree of moxie to a city devoid of the unexpected. Trump's renegade approach is set to dominate your news diet for the foreseeable future. The challenge will be sifting through the tweets to find what really matters. If you thought 2017 would be calm compared to 2016, you were wrong.

Speaking of 2017: There are 16 days until Trump's inauguration, and there are still no signs he wants to face the facts about alleged Russian hacking into the U.S. election. Trump tweeted Tuesday evening that American intelligence officials had delayed a briefing about Russian hacking during the election until Friday. Immediately, reports countered that the briefing had always been scheduled for Friday.

Trump doubled down Wednesday morning, citing Julian Assange in saying the source of the DNC leaks was not Russia. Another thing to watch in 2017: Government officials leaking their version of events to the media following a critical Trump tweet. Will we be able to trust statements made by the White House? And will Trump defer to the judgment of people like Assange over the CIA to reinforce his worldview? (Mic)

Welcome to Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America — and how it affects you. You've found the newsletter that never stops watching Trump's Twitter. 

Slowing down Obamacare repeal?

Republicans have dreamed of this moment for many years: The opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act is here. But the process for repealing it is less clear. While the period after Trump's election victory has been filled with uncertainty about how the GOP will "repeal and replace" the ACA, there was little doubt among Republicans that the law would be struck down. Now, a newer strategy dubbed "repeal and delay" — vote to repeal the law now, but have that move go into effect down the road when a new health care law is in place — is facing criticism from influential Republican senators like John McCain and Rand Paul. (CNN)

The stakes are high. Any vote on health care could dramatically disrupt the insurance market, leading to insurers pulling out of certain markets and increasing premiums — the opposite of the promises Trump made during the campaign. Health care coverage for millions of Americans is on the line. And while Senate Republicans passed a resolution to begin the repeal process on Tuesday, delaying the effective repeal of the law solves nothing if the GOP cannot come to a consensus on what a replacement should look like. (NBC News) Trump seems to understand this. He weighed in on Twitter, tweeting "Republicans must be careful in that the Dems own the failed ObamaCare disaster, with its poor coverage and massive premium increases ... Don't let the Schumer clowns out of this web." (More on Trump and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer below.)

Wednesday will see more focus on health care. President Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will both be on Capitol Hill to discuss how to preserve or replace the law with their respective party leaders. Obama is grasping for a way to uphold his signature policy achievement, which led to new health insurance coverage for millions of people but did not stop rising monthly insurance premiums that have made the law unpopular. (Wall Street Journal)

News and insight you cannot miss: 

— The president-elect will hold a "general news conference" on Wednesday, Jan. 11, in New York City. In December, Trump promised he would hold a press conference to detail how he would separate his presidency from his businesses and financial interests. But Trump canceled that event and has still offered no concrete details about how he will cut ties to his companies. (Mic)

— More on Trump tweets: Breaking down three factually challenged Donald Trump tweets to kick off 2017. (Mic)

— Trump's speedy appointment of Cabinet members overshadows a deeper problem below: His transition team is behind schedule on vetting for several high-level positions. Specifically, the financial depth and complexity of many of Trump's Cabinet nominees is slowing the process. (Atlantic)

— Proposed tax cuts and slashing of business regulations could save Trump and his family $4 billion or more. (Politico)

— The whistleblower whose case led to the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics tells Mic why the agency Republicans tried to kill is needed now more than ever. (Mic)

— While all focus was on Republicans trying to gut ethics oversight, the GOP slipped through a provision that allows Congressional staff members to subpoena and depose anyone, even if a member of Congress is not present. The move concerned Democrats nervous about broadening the power to force Americans to testify under oath. (Bloomberg)

— Watch this space: The 2018 map just keeps getting better for Senate Republicans. (Washington Post)

The loyal opposition: Chuck Schumer's scheme

The senior senator from New York loves a good deal — but he also cannot resist the urge to pick a fight. As House Republicans created a PR nightmare for themselves Tuesday, Chuck Schumer hit the cable news circuit. The Democratic leader in the Senate vowed in multiple interviews to vigorously fight Trump, but he also left the door open to working with the president-elect.

Schumer told CNN that he will not compromise with Trump "for its own sake." But Schumer added that tea party members of the GOP have proposed laws that he believes won't garner support from Trump, let alone Democrats, opening a door to common ground between the two New Yorkers. But on MSNBC, Schumer said he might keep the ninth Supreme Court seat vacant for four years. Democrats, who have 48 votes in the Senate, could filibuster any nominee Trump puts forward. "If they don't appoint someone who's really good, we're gonna oppose him tooth and nail," Schumer said.

Sound familiar? That's because Schumer is drawing from the Republican playbook of the past four years: Stall as many Obama-approved nominees and policies as possible in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Women's March on Washington could see as many as 200,000 attendees. The protest, planned for the day after the inauguration, could become the largest of many anti-Trump demonstrations in Washington. (Washington Post) And nationwide, college students plan to walk out of class on inauguration day to protest Trump. (Mic)


— California hires former Attorney General Eric Holder as legal bulwark against Trump. (New York Times)

— The president of the NAACP and five others were arrested after holding a sit-in at the Mobile, Alabama, office of Sen. Jeff Sessions. They were critical of Trump's nomination of Sessions to become attorney general. (Associated Press)

— Treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin's bank accused of "widespread misconduct" in leaked memo (Intercept)