10 things you need to know today: January 22, 2017
At least 1.6 million joined Women's Marches against Trump, Trump pledges support for U.S. intelligence agencies and bashes press at CIA speech, and more
At least 1.6 million joined Women's Marches against Trump
Official estimates of the crowds at Women's Marches criticizing the Trump administration nationwide on Saturday put the events' attendance at about 1.6 million collectively, CNN reports, with around 600,000 people in Washington, D.C., alone. March organizers' estimates are higher, reporting about 5 million protesters across the United States, including 750,000 in Los Angeles, where the police assessment is just 100,000 marchers. Unknown thousands also marched in more than 20 countries abroad. By any tally, the march in Washington far exceeded initial projections of 200,000 attendees, and the D.C. Metro system reported it saw more riders by 11 a.m. on Saturday than on the day of the inauguration. The Washington rally featured remarks from speakers including America Ferrera, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Scarlett Johansson, Melissa Harris-Perry, and more. Trump's campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, did not attend but tweeted her support.
Trump pledges support for U.S. intelligence agencies and bashes press at CIA speech
President Donald Trump visited CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Saturday and gave a speech pledging full White House support for the CIA, especially in counterterrorism projects. "I am so behind you," he said, "you're gonna get so much backing. Maybe you're gonna say, please, don't give us so much backing, Mr. President, please, we don't need that much backing." Trump also bashed the media for reporting election-era acrimony between himself and intelligence agencies. "I have a running war with the media, they are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth," he said. "They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. The reason you are the number one stop is exactly the opposite."
White House accuses media of lying about inauguration crowd size
The new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, insisted Saturday that Friday's inauguration hosted "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period." He accused the media of "intentionally" framing photos of the event to make the crowd look smaller, "to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall." "These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong," Spicer said. President Trump made the same accusation during his speech at CIA headquarters Saturday, saying the press reported 250,000 people attended rather than the "million and a half" he personally observed. Washington officials estimate 1.8 million people attended President Obama's 2009 inauguration; images show a smaller crowd for Trump's ceremony, which was expected to host about 800,000 people. An official estimate has not been released.
Justice Department: Trump can hire Kushner
The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel released an opinion Saturday saying President Trump's plan to hire his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for a senior advisory role in the White House does not run afoul of federal anti-nepotism law. "We conclude that [the federal anti-nepotism statute] does not bar this appointment because the president's special hiring authority ... exempts positions in the White House Office" from the ban, the opinion tells Trump. The 14-page document was prepared by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Daniel L. Koffsky, who is "a longtime career lawyer at Justice," as Politico reports, and not a Trump appointee. Kushner's appointment could still face an ethics challenge in court, though it is unclear how a plaintiff could demonstrate standing to sue.
Trump to meet with May, Netanyahu
President Trump will meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington on Friday, she confirmed Sunday, to discuss the future relationship between Washington and London, specifically where free trade and NATO cooperation are concerned. May told the BBC she will not shy away from frank or even difficult conversation, referencing the Women's Marches against Trump organized around the globe the day before. "When I sit down [with Trump], I think the biggest statement that will be made about the role of women is the fact that I will be there as a female prime minister," she said. "Whenever there is something that I find unacceptable, I won't be afraid to say that to Donald Trump." Trump is also to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Sunday he will speak with the new president by phone Sunday night.
Merkel plans compromise, Le Pen calls for European nationalism
After initially opting for an art museum visit instead of tuning in to President Trump's inaugural address, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised Saturday to seek opportunities for cooperation with the new American administration. The "trans-Atlantic relationship will not be less important in the coming years than it was in past years," she said. "And I will work on that. Even when there are different opinions, compromises and solutions can be best found when we exchange ideas with respect." Also on Saturday, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, predicted a coming shift in Europe in favor of her nationalist populism. "2016 was the year the Anglo-Saxon world woke up," she said, referencing Brexit and Trump's win. "I am sure 2017 will be the year the people of continental Europe wake up."
Former CIA chief is 'deeply saddened and angered' over Trump's Langley address
Former CIA Director John Brennan is "deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump's despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA's Memorial Wall of Agency heroes," said his former deputy chief of staff, Nick Shapiro. His displeasure with President Trump's speech at Langley is reportedly shared by other current and former CIA officers who believe the president's remarks were inappropriately political given their somber backdrop. It was "not quite a 'this hallowed ground moment,'" one former official told NBC, while an active CIA source indicated to CNN that agents were uncomfortable with the president's speculation about whether they voted for him.
15 dead from severe weather in southern states
At least four people were killed and more injured after a tornado ripped through southern Mississippi Saturday morning, officials from the city of Hattiesburg reported on Twitter. Two of the deaths occurred in a trailer park, where impermanent structures offered less protection from the extreme weather. Another 11 people were killed in Georgia early Sunday in other severe weather events, possibly including additional tornadoes. More tornadoes may occur in the Southeast later Sunday as ongoing storms are anticipated.
Rescue efforts continue at Italian hotel avalanche
Search and rescue efforts continue after an avalanche of snow buried a mountainside hotel in Italy earlier this week. Five people have been found dead so far and 23 remain missing. Nine people, including four children, have been successfully extracted from the wreckage. Rescue workers are hopeful that additional survivors may be trapped but safe in pockets of air below as much as 25 feet of snow. However, the precarious search is becoming increasingly dangerous as snowfall continues and another avalanche could be imminent.
Defeated Gambian president admits election loss on threat of invasion
After threat of invasion from neighboring Senegal to enforce election results, former President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia agreed Saturday to peacefully relinquish his post. Jammeh lost his race in December and initially conceded. Then, a week later, he announced he would not leave office but rather would continue his two-decade rule of the tiny West African nation. Jammeh first took power in 1994 after a military coup and once claimed he would rule Gambia for "a billion years."