First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
The Alt Right is coming to the White House
Over the weekend, President-elect Donald Trump made his first two hires -- Mr. Inside (Reince Priebus as chief of staff) and Mr. Outside (Steve Bannon, the former president of Breitbart News, as chief strategist and chief counselor). But it’s the Bannon move that’s the more extraordinary development in American politics and government. “Bannon's ascension is the clearest sign yet that Trump will maintain his ties to the populist white nationalism that helped propel him to the White House against overwhelming opposition from party leaders and traditional media,” NBC’s Benjy Sarlin writes. “Under Bannon's guidance, Breitbart served as a hub for pro-Trump, anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim agit-prop. The site faced regular criticism — including from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — for its close ties to the ‘alt right,’ an online-based counterculture movement associated with white nationalism. Bannon once called his outlet ‘the platform of the alt-right.’” Priebus, the longtime chair of the Republican National Committee, is the kind of politician who would have served under any GOP administration. Bannon isn’t.
Anti-Defamation League and Council on American-Islamic Relations decry Bannon hire
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It’s not every day when these two groups both criticize the appointment of a top official to the incoming White House. “[T]he ADL strongly opposes the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior adviser and chief strategist in the White House. It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt right’ – a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,’” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Added the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Nihad Awad: "We urge President-elect Trump to reconsider this ill-advised appointment if he truly seeks to unite Americans."
Priebus defends Bannon
On “Today” this morning, Priebus defended Bannon. “The guy I know is a guy that isn’t any of those [controversial] things,” he said. “Here’s a guy who’s Harvard Business School… He’s a guy who is very, very smart.” Priebus added of Trump, “He’s going to be a president for all Americans.” Per NBC’s Hallie Jackson, “A couple of Bannon's friends and associates -- who spoke with NBC by phone -- vigorously defended his character, flatly denying charges of anti-Semitism against him, acknowledging that Breitbart is ‘provocative’ but calling Bannon a champion of diverse voices. They describe him as a focused and intense leader.”
Recapping Trump’s “60 Minutes” interview
Here are some of the highlights of Trump’s interview on “60 Minutes” last night:
- On his campaign call for a border wall: “For certain areas I would [consider a fence], but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction... Yeah, it could be – it could be some fencing.”
- On his pledge to deport undocumented immigrants: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”
- On what happens to abortion if his Supreme Court justices overturn Roe v. Wade: “It’ll go back to the states... Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.”
- On what he would say to his supporters making slurs and threats against minorities: “I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together... I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it-- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
- On if he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Clintons: “I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want to hurt them. They’re, they’re good people. I don’t want to hurt them. And I will give you a very, very good and definitive answer the next time we do 60 Minutes together.”
Clinton blames Comey letter, in part, for election loss
Hillary Clinton “told donors on a 30-minute conference call [on Saturday] that [FBI Director] Comey’s decision to send a letter to Congress about the inquiry 11 days before Election Day had thrust the controversy back into the news and had prevented her from ending the campaign with an optimistic closing argument,” the New York Times says. “‘There are lots of reasons why an election like this is not successful,’ Mrs. Clinton said, according to a donor who relayed the remarks. But, she added, ‘our analysis is that Comey’s letter raising doubts that were groundless, baseless, proven to be, stopped our momentum.’” More: “Mrs. Clinton said a second letter from Mr. Comey, clearing her once again, which came two days before Election Day, had been even more damaging. In that letter, Mr. Comey said an examination of a new trove of emails, which had been found on the computer of Anthony D. Weiner, the estranged husband of one of her top aides, had not caused him to change his earlier conclusion that Mrs. Clinton should face no charges over her handling of classified information. Her campaign said the seemingly positive outcome had only hurt it with voters who did not trust Mrs. Clinton and were receptive to Mr. Trump’s claims of a ‘rigged system.’”
Obama holds news conference
Finally, President Obama holds his first post-election news conference from the White House at 3:15 pm ET.