Trump says Tillerson was always his man
The beauty pageant that was Mr. Trump’s secretary of state selection was full of drama: Would the disgraced Gen. David H. Petraeus be exonerated? Would Mitt Romney swallow enough of his pride to get into the good graces of the man he had called a fraud? Would Rudolph W. Giuliani somehow come in from the cold?
And in the end, seemingly at the last minute, Mr. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, swept in to receive the president-elect’s nod.
At a dinner at the sumptuous Mellon Auditorium in Washington on Tuesday night to honor the inaugural committee’s chairman, Thomas Barrack Jr., Mr. Trump said he had always wanted Mr. Tillerson, implying that the rest was for show. He called him the “man that I wanted right from the beginning.”
And why not?
“He’s led this charmed life,” Mr. Trump said. “He goes into a country, takes the oil, goes into another country. It’s tough dealing with these politicians, right?”
Biden lays into Putin’s Kremlin
The president-elect has been circumspect, to say the least, in his criticism of the Russian president.
But the departing vice president, Mr. Biden, went to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and showed on Tuesday what criticism of the Kremlin could look like, attacking Russia for election interference not only in the United States but also in Europe.
“Their purpose is clear — to collapse the liberal international order,” Mr. Biden told the elite gathering. “Simply put, Mr. Putin has a different vision for the future, which Russia is pursuing across the board. They seek a return to a world where the strong impose their will through military might, corruption or criminality — while weaker neighbors fall in line.”
Unhappiness on the once-bipartisan Senate Finance Committee
The Senate Finance Committee was once a vision of bipartisan comity, especially when it came to presidential nominees. When they ruled the roost, Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, brought down the nomination of former Senator Tom Daschle to be President Obama’s health secretary, because of unpaid taxes. They almost felled Timothy F. Geithner as Mr. Obama’s Treasury secretary.
The bipartisan comity is no more.
Despite a string of articles (here, here and here) detailing questionable stock trades by Mr. Price, Republican of Georgia, the chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, scheduled a confirmation hearing on Jan. 24 for Mr. Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
The ranking Democrat, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, released a scathing statement Tuesday night.
“Instead of confronting the serious issues raised about Congressman Price, Republicans are rushing to sneak his nomination through before all outstanding questions have been answered. The Finance Committee has a long, bipartisan tradition of thoroughly reviewing every nominee that comes before the committee, and I’m disappointed that my colleagues have chosen to cut corners and rush this process due to political pressure.”
Not since the Rolling Stones hired the Hells Angels at Altamont
The president-elect effusively praised the Harley-Davidson-riding Bikers for Trump, who have promised to keep their hero safe from the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who are descending on Washington.
“I saw the Bikers for Trump — boy, they had a scene today,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday night. “I don’t know if I would want to ride one of those, but they do like me. That’s like additional security with those guys, and they’re rough.”
Vegas on the Potomac
Mr. Trump liked to joke during his campaign that, with his new hotel in Washington, he would “get to Pennsylvania Avenue one way or another.”
On Tuesday night, just a few blocks from the White House, the lobby of the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue began to fill up with donors and transition officials in tuxedos who had just come from the first inaugural event, the dinner at the Mellon Auditorium.
Several donors and cabinet appointees were staying at the hotel, whose lobby décor seems to have been airlifted out of Las Vegas instead of built in a refurbished Post Office.
Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets and a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, walked through the gilded lobby, shaking hands. So did Duke Buchan, another major donor; both he and Mr. Johnson are hoping for ambassadorships.
The chef at the hotel’s signature restaurant, BLT Prime, David Burke — whose mane of grayish hair resembles that of Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon — wandered through the restaurant, and then around the lobby after the kitchen closed.
Washington is about to change.
Also spotted at Mr. Trump’s dinner
The Washington Redskins, aside from having the most divisive name in professional sports, also have an owner deeply disliked by much of the nation’s capital.
But there was the owner, Daniel Snyder, at the president-elect’s dinner, along with Jon Voight, a go-to conservative actor; the casino magnate Steve Wynn; Ron Dermer, the sometimes controversial Israeli ambassador to the United States; and Mr. Giuliani, recently named as Mr. Trump’s cybersecurity adviser.
An Obama holdover will head Justice for a while
Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates will stay on as acting attorney general until the incoming Trump administration can install a Senate-confirmed top law enforcement officer at the Justice Department.
The decision to keep on Ms. Yates, along with all United States attorneys and marshals for the time being, was practical. With Loretta E. Lynch stepping aside as attorney general, the new administration needed someone to sign the foreign intelligence surveillance warrants that continually cycle through the attorney general’s office.