10 things you need to know today: January 4, 2017
Republicans back down on curbing ethics office, Megyn Kelly announces departure from Fox News, and more
Republicans drop plan to gut ethics office after backlash
House Republicans reversed course Tuesday and dropped a plan to gut an independent ethics office that investigates House members and staffers suspected of misconduct. Rank and file Republicans had voted a day earlier to sharply cut the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics and place it under the House Ethics Committee, ignoring objections from House Speaker Paul Ryan and other leaders. The surprise move sparked an immediate backlash, including denunciations from government watchdogs. President-elect Donald Trump criticized the timing of the move in a pair of tweets, saying that other issues, such as health care and tax reform, were "of far greater importance."
Megyn Kelly leaving Fox News to join NBC
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly is leaving the news channel to join NBC News, NBC announced on Tuesday. Kelly broke onto the cable news stage at Fox 12 years ago and became one of the network's biggest stars. She openly sparred with then-candidate Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, raising her profile. NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, reportedly lured her away with an offer of a broader role than she had at Fox News, giving her the opportunity to host her own daytime news and discussion program, anchor an in-depth Sunday night news show, and participate in NBC special political programming and major event coverage.
Hillary and Bill Clinton to attend Trump inauguration
2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will attend President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration out of respect for the democratic process, sources close to the Clintons reportedly said Tuesday. Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will join them at the Jan. 20 ceremony. "They are pleased to be able to witness the peaceful transfer of power — a hallmark of American democracy — and swearing-in of President Trump and Vice President Pence," the Bush family said in a statement. The Bush family did not endorse Trump, and Bush's brother, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, was a primary season rival who clashed openly with the incoming president.
NAACP protesters arrested after sit-in at Sen. Jeff Sessions' office
Several protesters, including NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, were arrested Tuesday after an hours-long sit-in by about two dozen civil rights activists at the Mobile, Alabama, office of Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald J. Trump's nominee for attorney general. The protesters criticized Sessions' record on voting rights and race relations, and Brooks said he was "the worst possible nominee for attorney general at the worst possible moment," given ongoing controversies over voter suppression and police use of force against African-Americans. A Sessions spokeswoman called the NAACP's criticisms "false portrayals" that have been "rebuked and discredited." The sit-in came as 1,100 law school professors sent a letter urging the Senate not to confirm Sessions.
Ford cancels plan for Mexico plant in victory for Trump
Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday that it is canceling plans to build a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico. Instead, the second largest U.S. automaker will invest $700 million in a Michigan factory, creating 700 jobs. The move came after President-elect Donald Trump harshly criticized Ford for its Mexico plans. Ford CEO Mark Fields said the move would allow the company to "fully utilize capacity at existing facilities." He said he had not cut a deal with Trump, but that the decision was "a vote of confidence" in Trump's plans to cut taxes and ease regulations. Trump turned his attention to General Motors, threatening a "big border tax" on vehicles made in Mexico.
Israeli soldier who killed wounded Palestinian convicted of manslaughter
An Israeli military court on Wednesday found a young Israeli soldier, Sgt. Elor Azaria, guilty of manslaughter for "needlessly" killing a wounded Palestinian assailant last March, in a case that has divided Israeli society. Azaria, 20, shot the Palestinian, Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, in the head as he was lying on the ground after being disarmed of his knife. The incident occurred in the occupied West Bank after another soldier had been stabbed. A video captured by a Palestinian shows a soldier identified as Azaria fatally shooting Sharif from several yards away. The court rejected Azaria's claim that he shot Sharif because he could still pose a threat, possibly hiding a suicide belt.
Obama planning to transfer more detainees from Guantanamo
President Obama plans to transfer more detainees from the detention facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the White House said Tuesday. The announcement came hours after President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, posted a tweet arguing against moving any of the terror-war suspects being held at the facility. "There should be no further releases from Gitmo," Trump tweeted. "These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield."
Paul Ryan re-elected as House speaker
Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was re-elected as speaker of the House on Tuesday, as the 115th Congress got started. Only one Republican, frequent Ryan critic Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), defected. The easy victory, giving Ryan his first full term, overshadowed public clashes between Ryan and President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, and with hardline conservatives. Democrats gave Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) another term as minority leader. Four Democrats cast votes against her. The decisions to stick with their leaders for another Congress came after both parties faced calls for shakeups in party leadership during the presidential election campaign.
Trump picks lawyer Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen lawyer and trade hardliner Robert Lighthizer as head of the U.S. Trade Representative office, the Trump transition team said Tuesday. Lighthizer served as deputy trade representative under President Ronald Reagan. "Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first," Trump said in a statement. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative oversees trade negotiations, creates international trade and investment policy, and represents American interests at the World Trade Organization.
Seriously ill Charles Manson sent from prison to hospital
Charles Manson, the cult leader convicted for orchestrating a horrific 1969 killing spree, was transferred from prison to a California hospital. A source told the Los Angeles Times that Manson, 82, was seriously ill. Prison officials would only confirm that he was still alive. Manson is serving a life sentence for directing his mostly young, female followers, known as the Manson Family, to murder seven people, including actress Sharon Tate, in August 1969. Prosecutors said Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war.