10 things you need to know today: January 24, 2017
The Senate confirms Mike Pompeo as CIA director, Trump repeats debunked election fraud claim, and more
The Senate confirms Mike Pompeo as CIA director
The Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as CIA director on Monday after Democrats briefly held up the nomination. Pompeo, who was a Tea Party Republican congressman from Kansas before taking on the new job, now takes charge of an agency whose leaders clashed with President Trump before he took office. Trump accused intelligence officials of trying to smear him by reporting that Russia appeared to have hacked and leaked Democrats' emails to help him win the presidency. In a visit to CIA headquarters on his first full day in office, Trump promised to give the agency his full support.
Trump repeats debunked claim of widespread voter fraud
In his first official meeting with congressional leaders, President Trump on Monday repeated a false claim that he would have won the popular vote if three to five million "illegals" had not cast ballots, according to several sources familiar with the meeting. Trump won the presidency in the Electoral College 304-227, but his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, beat him in the popular vote by more than 2.8 million. Trump has claimed before that millions of people voted illegally and robbed him of a victory in the popular vote, but voting officials across the country reported no evidence to support the claim.
Trump ditches Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact
President Trump on Monday pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a broad trade deal he has described as a "potential disaster." Although the move fulfilled a campaign vow, it was largely symbolic, as it was considered dead-on-arrival in the Republican-controlled Congress. Still, by canceling the agreement so quickly Trump "puts the world on notice that all of America's traditional economic and political alliances are now open to reassessment and renegotiation," said Eswar Prasad, trade policy professor at Cornell University.
Committee backs Tillerson nomination after Rubio drops opposition
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted late Monday to recommend that the full Senate confirm former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. The vote came after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced that he would support President Trump's nominee, removing the last threat to Tillerson's confirmation. Rubio had balked at getting behind the nomination because of Tillerson's business relationship with Russia, including his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Rubio could have tipped the scales against Tillerson on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has a one-vote GOP majority.
GOP senators propose letting states keep ObamaCare exchanges
A group of four Republican senators on Monday introduced a bill proposing to replace ObamaCare that would give states an array of health insurance options, including keeping their Affordable Care Act exchanges. The proposal is sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore. The plan, one of many ObamaCare replacements Republicans are floating, would repeal federal mandates requiring individuals and business owners to buy insurance, and instead put the matter in the hands of governors and state lawmakers, giving people the option of keeping their current plan. "If you like your insurance you should keep it, and we mean it," Cassidy said.
Trump reinstates ban on foreign aid to groups offering abortion counseling
President Trump revived a Reagan-era ban on providing U.S. foreign aid to organizations abroad that offer women counseling on abortion as a family-planning option. U.S. law prohibits spending taxpayer money for abortion services at home or abroad, but the executive order takes that a step further by freezing funding for health care providers in developing countries that provide information on abortion, even if local law permits the procedure. Anti-abortion groups applauded the move, which fulfilled a campaign promise. Abortion rights organizations, including some that helped in the massive marches in Washington, D.C., and other cities on Saturday, said the order trampled on women's reproductive health rights.
Eric Trump takes over family hotel company
President Trump has resigned as head of Trump International Hotels Management, and his son Eric has taken over, according to a document filed Monday with the Florida secretary of state. The company runs Trump's hotels, including a newly opened one near the White House. Documents provided by the Trump Organization on Monday confirmed that the president resigned from more than 400 entities one day before taking the oath of office on Friday, although he has not divested as federal ethics officials recommended. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics filed a suit Monday claiming that Trump is violating the Constitution because his hotels receive payments from foreign governments.
Trump freezes hiring at most government agencies
President Trump on Monday signed an executive order imposing a federal hiring freeze, except for the military, national security, and public safety agencies. The move came on Trump's first full weekday in office, signaling that he is making it a priority to overhaul the federal workforce. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was countering "the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years," although The Washington Post's Wonkblog noted that there were 2.8 million employees on the federal payroll in December, and there were 2.79 million when Barack Obama took office, down from a peak of 3.15 million during Ronald Reagan's presidency.
Trump inaugural approval rating sets new Gallup low
A Gallup poll released Monday put President Trump's initial approval rating at 45 percent, the lowest for any new president since the survey was first conducted in 1953 when President Dwight Eisenhower took office. Trump was the first to receive less than 50 percent, although Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had just 51 percent approval ratings shortly after being inaugurated. Trump also had a far higher disapproval rating than any of his predecessors over the last six decades, with 45 percent disapproving of his initial performance. The previous top disapproval rating was 25 percent for George W. Bush, followed by 20 percent for Bill Clinton.
George H.W. Bush well enough to leave ICU
Former President George H.W. Bush is well enough to leave intensive care at a Houston hospital but still suffering from pneumonia, his doctors said Monday. The 92-year-old former president's wife, Barbara, has been discharged from the same hospital, Houston Methodist, after treatment for bronchitis. Dr. Amy Mynderse said at a Monday news conference that the former president, who was admitted last week with trouble breathing, was "sitting up, watching TV, and is waiting anxiously for his favorite oyster stew for lunch," and was "on minimal oxygen, joking and laughing with the nurses and doctors."