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 Great “Normalization” Debate of 2016
A week after Donald Trump’s upset presidential victory, a common refrain from liberals and Trump opponents is that he shouldn’t be normalized. Unfortunately for them, voters already normalized Trump -- first the GOP voters who gave him the Republican presidential nomination, and then the general-election voters who gave him his Electoral College win. (In the popular vote, however, Trump now trails Hillary Clinton by 1.3 million votes and counting.) So voters have already normalized Trump as the incoming president. Now where Trump critics have a point is that so many of his actions and behavior haven’t been normal, and they deserve scrutiny. The examples: His talk about jailing his opponent; his refusal to release his taxes; his suggestion (before he won) that the results would be rigged; and his disorderly transition with talk of a "Stalinesque purge." None of THAT is normal. But Trump as president-elect? That is the new normal.
Flynn as national security adviser? Nikki Haley for secretary of state?
As NBC’s Hallie Jackson reported on “Today” this morning: “A top transition source tells NBC News that Donald Trump is expected to name Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn to [be national security adviser], though nothing’s official until the president-elect goes public. Flynn, long loyal to Donald Trump, but considered controversial in certain GOP circles for some of his foreign policy positions -- including advocating regime change in Iran and his close ties to Russia.” More from Jackson: “Donald Trump today will meet with others he’s considering for his cabinet, like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott is also headed to Trump Tower in New York.
Here is our running list of possible candidates we’ve been hearing about so far. We’ll continue to update it as the president-elect’s team makes its choices final.
- Secretary of State: Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Nikki Haley, Bob Corker
- Attorney General: Giuliani, Jeff Sessions
- Treasury: Steve Mnuchin, Jeb Hensarling
- Defense: Sessions, Jim Talent, Tom Cotton
- Homeland: Michael McCaul, David Clarke
- Interior: Sarah Palin
- HHS: Ben Carson (adviser says he’s declined)
- Education: Carson (adviser says he’s declined), Michelle Rhee, Eva Moskowitz
- Commerce: Lew Eisenberg, Linda McMahon
- Transportation: John Mica
- Agriculture: Rick Perry, Sid Miller
- CIA Director: Devin Nunes
- UN Ambassador: Richard Grenell
- National Security Adviser: Michael Flynn
- RNC Chair: Ronna Romney McDaniel
Rand Paul: I’m not the only GOP senator with “some misgivings” about Giuliani, Bolton as secretary of state
Here was Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on MSNBC’s “Hardball” last night: "I will tell you something I haven't told anybody else. I've had some conversation with some other Republican senators and I'm not the only one with some misgivings over both Giuliani and Bolton. And I haven't met a Democrat that's for either one of them. But I've met several Republicans that aren't." More Paul: "So I want a secretary of state that actually understands and has learned from the lessons of the Middle East. And I guess I worry that people like John Bolton, and, really, frankly, Mayor Giuliani, they have -- I -- I would call them unrepentant advocates for the Iraq war. They don't seem to have learned anything from the Iraq war. They still defend it. And both have advocated a bomb first sort of ask questions later for Iran. And I don't think you really want your chief diplomat to be an advocate for war. You know, that would be better if we were going to have a secretary of war. They might be good for that position. But I want someone who's reasonable. I want somebody who's a realist that sees the world as it is."
Clinton discusses her loss
“There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do is just to curl up with a good book or our dogs”: The dispatch from NBC’s Monica Alba: “Hillary Clinton, making an emotional plea, urged supporters ‘not to give up’ and to ‘stay engaged’ in politics at a charity gala in Washington D.C. Wednesday night. The appearance, which aides say was planned long before last week's stunning loss, marked Clinton's first public remarks since conceding the election to President-elect Donald Trump. ‘I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election,’ she said to the crowd at a Children's Defense Fund gala. I am too, more than I can ever express.’ Clinton said appearing in public wasn't the easiest thing for her. ‘There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do is just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again,’ the former presidential nominee said. Nevertheless, she attempted to inspire her audience and emphasized a line of Martin Luther King Jr. that is oft quoted by President Barack Obama throughout her speech: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”
Facebook’s problem with fake news
“In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others,” Buzzfeed writes. “During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.”