10 things you need to know today: December 13, 2016

Trump picks ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, GOP leaders back investigations of Russian hacking, and more

Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state
(Image credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Trump picks ExxonMobil CEO Tillerson as secretary of state

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state. Tillerson has deep ties to Russia, which Trump has described as a selling point. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, however, have expressed concerns about the oil executive's close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggesting Tillerson could face a tough fight for confirmation. It would only take a few GOP defectors to block the nomination in the Senate if Democrats unite in opposition.

The Associated Press The New York Times

2. Republican leaders back investigations into Russian hacking

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the top two Republicans in Congress, said on Monday that they support investigations into suspicions that Russia tried to influence the November presidential election. McConnell announced that a Senate intelligence panel will look into the alleged interference. The CIA has concluded that Russia used hackers in an attempt to help President-elect Donald Trump in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump has mocked the findings as "ridiculous," signaling possible looming conflicts with Congress over the inquiries.

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The Washington Post The New York Times

3. Podesta joins call for briefing electors on Russian meddling

Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, said Monday that he supports calls for intelligence agencies to brief Electoral College electors on Russia's alleged attempt to influence the U.S. presidential elections. Following the CIA's conclusion that Russia used hackers hoping to help President-elect Donald Trump beat Clinton, 10 electors have requested an intelligence briefing before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19. "Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed," said Podesta, whose emails were hacked and posted on WikiLeaks.

Time MarketWatch

4. Trump postpones announcement on handling business conflicts

President-elect Donald Trump is postponing until next month a scheduled announcement on how he plans to handle his business empire while president. Trump had said he would hold a news conference on Dec. 15 to reveal his plans as he faced mounting pressure to divest in order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Trump tweeted Monday night that he would hand over control of his business empire to his adult sons, Don and Eric, and that they would do "no new deals" during his presidency. He did not indicate that he would sell his stake in his global real estate and branding businesses. Trump has assets worth about $3.6 billion and $630 million in debt held in more than 500 companies, with ties to businesses and governments in 20 countries.


5. Ex-congressman Chaka Fattah sentenced to 10 years for corruption

A federal judge on Monday sentenced former congressman Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.) to 10 years in prison on federal corruption charges. Fattah, 60, was convicted in June on multiple counts — including bribery, racketeering, money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, and filing false statements — related to a scheme to pay back a loan from his unsuccessful 2007 campaign for Philadelphia mayor. He served in Congress for 22 years, but was defeated in an April primary. His son, Chaka Fattah Jr., is serving a five-year prison sentence for bank and tax fraud.


6. Judge denies last Stein recount request as Wisconsin confirms Trump win

A U.S. judge on Monday rejected Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's request for a recount of Pennsylvania's vote and an examination of its voting machines. Stein said it was necessary to look at the voting machines for evidence of possible hacking, which experts have dismissed as far-fetched. Stein pushed for recounts of the presidential vote in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and all three states would have had to flip from President-elect Donald Trump to Democrat Hillary Clinton to change the result. Only Wisconsin went ahead with a recount, and its reexamination of the votes showed Trump's lead of about 22,000 votes edged up by 131 votes.

Reuters Los Angeles Times

7. Trump taps Goldman Sachs executive as top economic adviser

President-elect Donald Trump on Monday officially nominated Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn to be his top economic adviser as head of the National Economic Council. Trump said Cohn would "help craft economic policies that will grow wages for our workers, stop the exodus of jobs overseas, and create many great new opportunities for Americans who have been struggling." Critics noted that Cohn is the third current or former executive from the elite investment bank named to a leading role in the Trump administration, suggesting Trump was falling short of his campaign promise to reduce Wall Street's influence and "drain the swamp" in Washington.


8. Dylann Roof had list of black churches when arrested for Charleston massacre

Dylann Roof had a list of predominantly black churches and their addresses in his car when he was arrested for murdering nine black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, law enforcement officials said Monday at Roof's murder trial. Roof's videotaped confession to FBI agents was played at the trial. Roof, a self-confessed white supremacist, said he was planning to kill himself but not attack other black churches after the shooting. His lawyers say he would change his not guilty plea to guilty if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.

CBS News

9. Antonio Guterres sworn in as next U.N. chief

Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres was sworn in as United Nations secretary-general on Monday. Guterres, a former U.N. refugee chief and the ninth leader in the organization's 71 years, was elected by acclamation in October to succeed Ban Ki-moon starting Jan. 1. Guterres said the U.N. should simplify its sprawling bureaucracy so it can get staff to trouble spots quicker. "The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient, and effective," he said.

The Associated Press

10. La La Land leads Golden Globe nominations

The musical comedy La La Land, fresh off a big night at the Critics' Choice Awards, led the nominees for the 2017 Golden Globes on Monday with seven nominations. The romantic comedy is up for Golden Globes for best director, best original score, best screenplay, best original song, best motion picture (musical/comedy), and best actor and actress, for stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Moonlight, a film about a black, gay man growing up in Miami, followed with six nominations, while family drama Manchester by the Sea snagged five. Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, This Is Us, The Crown, and Westworld were among the nominees for best TV series.

The New York Times Time

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.