5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Trump heads into inauguration with historically low poll numbers

  • Putin accuses Obama administration of undermining Trump's legitimacy

  • Theresa May calls for hard Brexit in long-awaited speech

  • Zinke set for easy confirmation, while DeVos to face tough questions

  • Trump health secretary nominee accused of insider trading in Congress

Three new polls show President-elect Donald Trump being viewed favorably by about 40 percent of Americans, a huge shortfall from the approval numbers for Trump's four predecessors. In Gallup and Washington Post/ABC News polls, Trump is viewed favorably by 40 percent and unfavorably by 55 percent (Gallup) and 54 percent (WaPo), while a CNN/ORC poll pegs Trump's transition approval rating at 40 percent but his favorable numbers slightly better, at 44 percent. President Obama's favorability numbers before his inauguration were about 80 percent in all three polls. The polls were split over expectations for Trump's presidency, but majorities expected him to do well with the economy and jobs. Trump is viewed favorably by a sizable majority of Republicans but has high disapproval numbers from independents as well as Democrats.

Source: The Washington Post, CNN

At a news conference Tuesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused President Obama's administration of attempting to "undermine the legitimacy" of President-elect Donald Trump. Addressing the unconfirmed dossier that surfaced last week alleging Russia has compromising information on Trump, Putin reportedly said anyone circulating the "fake" claims about the president-elect is "worse than prostitutes." Putin insisted the dossier is a "hoax," Reuters reported, and also said he has never met with Trump. He particularly cast doubt on the dossier's unverified claims about Trump's conduct with prostitutes, saying Trump would have no need for such behavior because he "has been with the most beautiful women in the world." Trump has strongly denied the allegations, calling the reports "phony stuff."

Source: The Associated Press, Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a clean break with the European Union in a long-awaited Tuesday speech, saying that the U.K. will leave the European single market but still "seek the greatest possible access to it through a new comprehensive, bold, and ambitious free trade agreement." May indicated that controlling Britain's borders is the government's priority, even if it means losing trading advantages. She said an "independent, self-governing" Britain would seek "a new and equal partnership" with the countries in the EU.

Source: The New York Times, Reuters

Confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks resume Tuesday, with interior secretary nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) and education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos set to face Congress. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL who supports the federal protection of western lands as well as the Keystone pipeline, is expected to be easily confirmed, while DeVos will likely face a tough examination because of her support for charter schools and voucher programs and her "ties to anti-gay rights and anti-organized labor groups," Politico reported. DeVos' hearing was originally slated for last week, but was pushed back because of Democrats' questions about her "extensive financial entanglements and potential conflicts of interest," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Senate committee that will question DeVos.

Source: Politico, NPR

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Donald Trump's nominee for health and human services secretary, invested between $1,000 and $15,000 in medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet last March, less than a week before introducing legislation that would greatly benefit the company, CNN reports, citing House records. Less than three months after he introduced the HIP Act, which would have delayed implementation of a regulation to change how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursed companies like Zimmer Biomet, the company's PAC sent Price's re-election committee a $1,000 check; Zimmer Biomet's PAC had also sent Price's campaign a $1,000 check two days after he wrote the CMS administrator urging him to delay implementation of the rule. A Trump transition spokesman said Price wasn't aware of the transaction until weeks after Price had introduced the legislation. He will likely be asked about the Zimmer Biomet trade and other trades in health care stocks at his confirmation hearing this week.

Source: CNN, Reuters
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