CNN – Politics

Republican lawmaker: Hard questioning of Mulvaney and Price is fair game

Republican lawmaker: Hard questioning of Mulvaney and Price is fair game

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Pete Sessions said it is fair game for senators to inquire about whether Donald Trump Cabinet pick Mick Mulvaney failed to pay thousands in taxes."The American people need t ... Continue Reading
Obama Pentagon chief: I did not recommend Manning commutation

Obama Pentagon chief: I did not recommend Manning commutation

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ash Carter, President Barack Obama's defense secretary, did not agree with one of Obama's final decisions as President: commuting the sentence of convicted leaker Chelsea Manning. ... Continue Reading
What will go through John Roberts' head as he swears in Donald Trump?

What will go through John Roberts' head as he swears in Donald Trump?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Donald Trump puts his hand on the bible Friday and swears to "faithfully execute the Office of President" few people will focus on the man in the judicial robe delivering the oat ... Continue Reading
Democrats use Trump hearings to plant 2020 flag

Democrats use Trump hearings to plant 2020 flag

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hearings for Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees are serving as auditions for Democrats who want to be the party's next liberal leader. Or in the mix to be the 2020 presidential nominee ... Continue Reading
Trump puts GOP in awkward spot on Obamacare

Trump puts GOP in awkward spot on Obamacare

(CNN) - Donald Trump is still one day away from taking the oath of office.But on Capitol Hill, where Republican leaders have started the process of rolling back major parts of Obamacare and now fa ... Continue Reading
What's on the agenda for Thursday in Washington: Confirmation hearings

What's on the agenda for Thursday in Washington: Confirmation hearings

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Donald Trump's Cabinet confirmation hearings continue Thursday, just one day before the President-elect is set to take the oath of office. Here's what's happening Thursday in Was ... Continue Reading
CNN/ORC Poll shows last-minute love for Obamacare

CNN/ORC Poll shows last-minute love for Obamacare

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Americans views of Obamacare tilt narrowly positive, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, marking the first time more have favored than opposed the law since its passage in 2010. The sh ... Continue Reading
George H.W. Bush in stable condition in ICU, spokesman says

George H.W. Bush in stable condition in ICU, spokesman says

(CNN) - Former President George H.W. Bush is in stable condition, and his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush has bronchitis, his spokesman said Wednesday. President Bush, 92, was admitted to the ... Continue Reading
Canada's Donald Trump? 'Shark Tank' star Kevin O'Leary runs for Tory leadership

Canada's Donald Trump? 'Shark Tank' star Kevin O'Leary runs for Tory leadership

(CNN) - Canada's got its own reality TV star vying for the nation's top job.Kevin O'Leary, the business man-turned-reality TV star, announced Wednesday that he will stand in the now 14-person race ... Continue Reading
Keith Ellison prods Bernie Sanders to help out DNC

Keith Ellison prods Bernie Sanders to help out DNC

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Keith Ellison -- who Bernie Sanders endorsed for Democratic National Committee chair -- said Wednesday night he'd push the reluctant Sanders to hand his massive list of supporters o ... Continue Reading
Wyoming school district cited by DeVos: Grizzlies, yes; guns, no

Wyoming school district cited by DeVos: Grizzlies, yes; guns, no

(CNN) - The superintendent for a rural Wyoming school cited by education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos in Tuesday's Senate confirmation hearing says they have no guns for grizzly bear at Wapiti Schoo ... Continue Reading
John Lewis channels Trump feud energy into Obamacare fight

John Lewis channels Trump feud energy into Obamacare fight

WASHINGTON (CNN) - John Lewis is working to channel the Democratic anger built from his recent fight with President-elect Donald Trump into an effort to save Obamacare.In a letter to House Democrat ... Continue Reading
Tom Cotton, Joe Manchin praise Obama's 'dignity'

Tom Cotton, Joe Manchin praise Obama's 'dignity'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the final days of President Barack Obama's second term, a couple of his critics took a moment to express some kind words.Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, and Joe Manchin, D-West ... Continue Reading
Schumer warns GOP against jamming Trump nominees through Senate

Schumer warns GOP against jamming Trump nominees through Senate

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Democrats strongly complained Wednesday that Republicans were trying to "jam" President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks through the chamber, and warned they would not rush ... Continue Reading
Transition Tracker: Picking apart Trump's Cabinet picks

Transition Tracker: Picking apart Trump's Cabinet picks

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Interviews with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence and sharp questioning of the Cabinet nominees were part of a flurry of activity less than 48 hours b ... Continue Reading
Pence won't say if Russia should be punished for hacking

Pence won't say if Russia should be punished for hacking

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Wednesday declined to say whether he believes Russia should be punished for carrying out a hacking operation aimed at influencing the 2016 preside ... Continue Reading
Melania Trump considering male social secretary

Melania Trump considering male social secretary

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Soon-to-be First Lady Melania Trump is considering a man among several other candidates to become the next White House social secretary, according to two people with knowledge of Ea ... Continue Reading
Obama cites daughters as example for how to react to election outcome

Obama cites daughters as example for how to react to election outcome

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama says his two daughters' reactions to the 2016 election should serve as a model for younger Americans who were disappointed in the outcome."They were disapp ... Continue Reading
Mike Pence: Trump 'getting very close' to Obamacare replacement

Mike Pence: Trump 'getting very close' to Obamacare replacement

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Wednesday that Republicans do not yet have a bill to replace Obamacare, but that he has "seen a lot of great ideas" and that transition official ... Continue Reading
Obama calls voter fraud fears 'fake news'

Obama calls voter fraud fears 'fake news'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama broke out the term "fake news" in reference to concerns about voter fraud on Wednesday, making the case that voting should be easier, not more difficult. O ... Continue Reading
Whats on the agenda for Wednesday in Washington

Whats on the agenda for Wednesday in Washington

WASHINGTON (CNN) - After the long weekend, another busy week in Washington continues with more confirmation hearings, President-elect Donald Trump inauguration preparation, and President Barack Obama ... Continue Reading
The people you don't know who could be running the government on Friday

The people you don't know who could be running the government on Friday

WASHINGTON (CNN) - On the day Donald Trump is sworn in as president, a group of civil servants most people have never heard of will likely be running some of the country's most critical cabinet posts, ... Continue Reading
Barack Obama's evolution in 10 years of hip-hop lyrics

Barack Obama's evolution in 10 years of hip-hop lyrics

WASHINGTON (CNN) - While evaluations of President Barack Obama vary widely in various subsets of black America, hundreds of Obama mentions in hip-hop over the last nine years show that the immediate l ... Continue Reading
Republicans excited about Trump -- and worry about what he'll say next

Republicans excited about Trump -- and worry about what he'll say next

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Donald Trump's foray into health policy was perhaps best described by a senior Republican congressional aide with a long history of working through the complexities ... Continue Reading
URGENT - Reports: George H.W. Bush hospitalized

URGENT - Reports: George H.W. Bush hospitalized

(CNN) -- Former president George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized, according to the Houston Chronicle and Houston TV station KHOU. Bush's chief of staff, Jean Becker, says he was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital after falling ill. Becker tells the Houston Chronicle and KHOU that Bush is "doing fine."
Education advocates: DeVos lacks public school experience

Education advocates: DeVos lacks public school experience

(CNN) - Ahead of Betsy DeVos' hearing to become education secretary, her experience with public schools is being called into question."It's totally true, she has no connection to public schools," ... Continue Reading
White House: No Snowden clemency request

White House: No Snowden clemency request

(CNN) - More than a million supporters of Edward Snowden have petitioned President Barack Obama to pardon him, but the former National Security Agency contractor hasn't submitted the required documen ... Continue Reading
Chuck Schumer: Tom Price may have broken the law in stock transaction

Chuck Schumer: Tom Price may have broken the law in stock transaction

(CNN) - Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that Donald Trump's pick to quarterback the replacement of Obamacare, Tom Price, might have broken the law with a questionable stock purcha ... Continue Reading
Ethics paperwork still missing for Trump's billionaire Cabinet picks

Ethics paperwork still missing for Trump's billionaire Cabinet picks

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Several of the wealthiest nominees for top Cabinet posts are headed to Capitol Hill for confirmation hearings this week, but the clock is ticking for them to complete the ethics and ... Continue Reading
Repealing Obamacare: Trump says fast, Congress says slow

Repealing Obamacare: Trump says fast, Congress says slow

(CNN) - Emboldened by Donald Trump's surprise victory, Republican lawmakers vowed after Election Night that they wouldn't waste a single day to pursue their most urgent mission: Kill Obamacare.The ... Continue Reading
Reality Check: Trump says Atlanta is 'falling apart' and 'crime infested'

Reality Check: Trump says Atlanta is 'falling apart' and 'crime infested'

ATLANTA (CNN) - President-elect Donald Trump harshly criticized Georgia Rep. John Lewis on Saturday, tweeting that his district was "in horrible shape and falling apart (and not to mention crime infes ... Continue Reading
Rand Paul previews Obamacare replacement plan

Rand Paul previews Obamacare replacement plan

(CNN) - Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday unveiled the broad strokes of his Obamacare replacement package, a measure he again said Republicans must pass "on the same day as we do repeal.""We've ha ... Continue Reading
McDonough: Obama sees Trump as 'freely elected,' defends Lewis

McDonough: Obama sees Trump as 'freely elected,' defends Lewis

(CNN) - White House chief of staff Denis McDonough defended Georgia Rep. John Lewis Sunday against recent attacks from President-elect Donald Trump, but he did not agree with his claim that Trump is ... Continue Reading
Who is performing at Donald Trump's inauguration and who isn't?

Who is performing at Donald Trump's inauguration and who isn't?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Donald Trump has for decades hobnobbed with famous faces -- A-list models, actors and musicians.

But after a divisive election season and a campaign rife with rhetoric against Muslims and immigrants, Trump has not attracted a wealth of star power to his Inaugural Ceremony.

Plans are far from settled, but as the days until the inauguration tick down, Trump's swearing-in ceremony won't include performances from the big name acts like Beyoncé and Yo-Yo Ma who took the stage for President Barack Obama.

And for the record, Trump and his team have said they are fine with that.

Boris Epshteyn, director of communications for the Inaugural Committee, dismissed the absence of major musicians in an interview on CNN in December.

"This is not Woodstock," Epshteyn said. "It's not summer jam. It's not a concert."

One evening earlier in December, Trump tweeted his own disdain for high profile celebrities, writing, "The so-called 'A' list celebrities are all wanting tix to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!"

This page will update as the situation changes, but here is who the team has officially announced so far.

Talladega Marching Tornadoes

The marching band for Talladega College inked an agreement to perform at the event, but as 2017 came, the issue sparked a days-long debate in the historically black college.

Talladega College President Billy C. Hawkins announced the final decision in a statement, noting that the "lessons students can learn from this experience cannot be taught in a classroom."

"We respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade," said Hawkins. "As many of those who chose to participate in the parade have said, we feel the inauguration of a new president is not a political event but a civil ceremony celebrating the transfer of power."

Supporters of the trip argued that the experience would benefit the band -- and be a source of pride for the relatively unknown school.

The Rockettes

The Inaugural Committee announced in December the Rockettes would bring their iconic New York act to the nation's capital. But in the days and weeks that followed, some degree of controversy emerged.

Apparently worried about being associated with the divisive President-elect, several members of the dance group balked at being forced to perform. However, the organization said only those who were willing to perform would do so.

Several members of the Rockettes came forward to talk about their concerns with the group taking part in the inaugural festivities, and eventually one member leaked a recording to Marie Claire of a discussion between members of the Rockettes and Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan.

As Dolan tried to explain his decision to have the Rockettes perform for Trump, one dancer said, "It sounds like you're asking us to be tolerant of intolerance."

Dolan responded, "Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that."

Before closing the meeting he offered something in the way of a "sound bite," saying, "We're celebrating a new president, not necessarily this president."

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed at five past inaugural ceremonies, and in 2017, they are set for a sixth. The choir is an award-winning, volunteer institution within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The group is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and dates back to the founding of the Mormon Church.

It has some 360 members, but the decision to participate in Trump's Inauguration caused one member to leave.

Jan Chamberlin said she was dropping out of the group and wrote on Facebook with reference to the inaugural performance: "I only know I could never 'throw roses to Hitler.' And I certainly could never sing for him."

Jackie Evancho

The biggest -- and only so far -- solo singer booked to perform at Trump's inauguration is former "America's Got Talent" contestant Jackie Evancho.

Like Trump, she is a former reality TV star. Unlike him, she is a sixteen-year-old woman with a charting record.

She appeared on the TV contest at just ten years old, eventually making it to second place. Since then she has recorded and released several albums. In 2010, she performed at the White House Christmas tree lighting and performed again for Obama at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast.

Despite her performing twice at Obama events, Trump cast her as part of his "movement" and correlated her agreement to perform at his Inauguration for her successful 2016 Christmas album.

"Jackie Evancho's album sales have skyrocketed after announcing her Inauguration performance. Some people just don't understand the 'Movement,'" Trump tweeted.

The day before: Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, Lee Greenwood

Trump's inaugural committee announced several acts for a concert to kick things off the day before the inauguration itself.

On January 19, the committee says country starts Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood in addition to the band 3 Doors Down would highlight what the team is calling "The Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration."

"Above all, it will serve as tribute to one of our greatest attributes, the peaceful transition of partisan power," said chairman of the committee Tom Barrack in a statement.

The Piano Guys, The Frontmen of Country and others have also been slated for the kickoff event. Jon Voight, an actor and longtime attendee of major Republican events, was also set to stop by.

In the face of criticism against performers taking part in the inaugural festivities, Keith spoke out, saying he would not "apologize."

"I performed at events for previous presidents Bush and Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO," Keith told Entertainment Weekly.

Greenwood was best known for his song "God Bless the USA." President George W. Bush appointed Greenwood to the National Council on the Arts, where he served a six-year term.

He has performed alongside Republican politicians several times in the past, including in a campaign video for then-presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio and at the 1988 Republican National Convention alongside President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan.

The inaugural committee also announced another pre-inaugural celebration, called "Voices of the People," which the team said "will feature groups from the hundreds of applications received by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to take part in inaugural festivities."

It said these included the DC Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, the Republican Hindu Coalition, the Montgomery Area High School Marching Band and several others.

Who has turned it down, and who is still considering?

Reports emerged that Sir Elton John had agreed to perform at the Inauguration, but representatives for the artist said he would not play.

The Beach Boys also said they were invited to perform, but as of early January had not publicly announced their decision.

Rebecca Ferguson, a former runner up on the UK's "X-Factor" show, said she was offered an invitation to perform, but she said she would only do so if she could sing "Strange Fruit," a song she said "speaks to all the disregarded and downtrodden black people in the United States." Trump transition team has yet to publicly comment on whether Ferguson would perform.

Jennifer Holliday, a singer and actress who has starred on Broadway, initially agreed to perform at the pre-Inauguration celebration, but later withdrew after a backlash from her fans. She said in a statement that she would not perform, writing to her fans: "I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement (sic)."

Trump rips 'all talk,' 'no action' civil rights icon Lewis

Trump rips 'all talk,' 'no action' civil rights icon Lewis

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Donald Trump harshly responded to civil rights icon John Lewis on Saturday, calling him "all talk" and "no action" after the Georgia congressman said Trump was not a ... Continue Reading
Ex-DNC chief Wasserman Schultz confronts Comey about hacking

Ex-DNC chief Wasserman Schultz confronts Comey about hacking

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz confronted FBI Director James Comey Friday in a contentious closed-door exchange, a lawmaker in the room tol ... Continue Reading
URGENT - Senate probe into election hacking to review possible links between Russia, campaigns

URGENT - Senate probe into election hacking to review possible links between Russia, campaigns

(CNN) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee's review of Russian meddling in the 2016 election will include a look at intelligence "regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns."Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, the committee's chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, the committee's vice chairman, said in a joint statement that the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the election also will focus on Russian cyberactivity and "active measures" against the US.It was known that intelligence panels in both chambers of Congress were tapped by Republican leaders to probe the hacking, but Friday's announcement makes clear the scope and details about the review. It is also notable that the announcement was joined by Warner, as Democrats have clamored for a bipartisan look into Russian meddling in the election.Burr and Warner said the committee will hold hearings examining Russian intelligence activity and interview senior officials within both President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump's administrations about the matter, and will issue subpoenas if necessary."We believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States," they said.
FBI Director Comey's political firestorm, explained

FBI Director Comey's political firestorm, explained

WASHINGTON (CNN) - FBI Director James Comey is once again finding himself at the center of a political firestorm.And it's the last place the head of the nation's top law enforcement agency wants to ... Continue Reading
URGENT - House approves Mattis waiver

URGENT - House approves Mattis waiver

(CNN) -- The House of Representatives passed legislation Friday providing retired Marine Gen. James Mattis a waiver to serve as secretary of defense.The vote was 268-151.The Senate passed the bill on Thursday and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it soon, a move to help install one of his successor's top national security advisors. Senate Republicans are aiming to vote on Mattis' confirmation to lead the Pentagon on January 20, the day President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in as president.
Obama to hold final news conference Wednesday

Obama to hold final news conference Wednesday

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will hold his final news conference Wednesday afternoon in the White House briefing room.The event, two days before his term ends and President-elect Donal ... Continue Reading
House Oversight chair asks government ethics official to appear before committee

House Oversight chair asks government ethics official to appear before committee

(CNN) - Rather than investigate potential conflicts of interest posed by Donald Trump's businesses, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has asked the head of the Office of Government Et ... Continue Reading
A push in Congress for Ivanka Trump's child care plan

A push in Congress for Ivanka Trump's child care plan

(CNN) - Trump transition officials held a conference call with House Ways & Means Committee staff Thursday to make clear that the President-elect and Ivanka Trump want to push their childcare reform ... Continue Reading
Paul Ryan tells undocumented immigrant he doesn't want to deport her

Paul Ryan tells undocumented immigrant he doesn't want to deport her

(CNN) - House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked point-blank Thursday by a woman whose parents brought her to the US as an undocumented immigrant at age 11, and who has remained in the country for 21 years ... Continue Reading
Bush daughters offer advice to Malia and Sasha Obama in open letter

Bush daughters offer advice to Malia and Sasha Obama in open letter

(CNN) - President George W. Bush's twin daughters are offering advice to Malia and Sasha Obama, who are soon to join them in the ranks of former first kids.

"We have watched you grow from girls to impressive young women with grace and ease," wrote Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush Hager in an open letter published by Time Magazine.

The Bush daughters -- who first became familiar with the White House during the presidency of their grandfather, George H.W. Bush -- recalled returning to the executive mansion in 2008 as young women to show the Obama girls around.

They said they had more advice now that the Obamas are moving into a new chapter of their lives.

"Now you are about to join another rarified club, one of former First Children --- a position you didn't seek and one with no guidelines," the Bushes wrote. "But you have so much to look forward to. You will be writing the story of your lives, beyond the shadow of your famous parents, yet you will always carry with you the experiences of the past eight years."

They conceded the experience of growing up in the White House wasn't always pleasant, marked by tight security and constant criticism from political opponents. But they wrote that developing relationships with the permanent staff in the residence had helped them adjust, and said they maintained contact with their Secret Service agents, who they said "put their lives on hold for us."

"You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House," the Bush daughters wrote. "You have listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who had never even met them. You stood by as your precious parents were reduced to headlines. Your parents, who put you first and who not only showed you but gave you the world. As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin your next chapter. And so will we."

This is not the first time the sisters have written a letter to the Obama children: A similar note of encouragement was published in the Wall Street Journal in 2009.

Paul Ryan's balancing act

Paul Ryan's balancing act

(CNN) - Paul Ryan could be the key to Donald Trump's success.The House speaker, who is set to discuss his role in the new Washington Thursday during a CNN town hall moderated by Jake Tapper at 9 p ... Continue Reading
Rubio, Tillerson critics clash with nominee over human rights

Rubio, Tillerson critics clash with nominee over human rights

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson endured a rocky cross-examination Wednesday on the perennial question of how to balance America's national security interests with its advoc ... Continue Reading
Transition Tracker: Dissecting the Trump press conference

Transition Tracker: Dissecting the Trump press conference

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Amid a table full of documents, arguments with the media, and claims of germ-phobic tendencies, President-elect Donald Trump's news conference did shed some light on how his policie ... Continue Reading
Ex-CIA leader: 'Surprised' unverified intel given to Trump

Ex-CIA leader: 'Surprised' unverified intel given to Trump

(CNN) - Michael Morell, former CIA acting director, told CNN that he finds it unusual the intelligence community would present President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama with a summary o ... Continue Reading
Transportation secretary nominee Elaine Chao faces Senate panel

Transportation secretary nominee Elaine Chao faces Senate panel

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to run the Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao, will testify before a Senate panel Wednesday en route to what is expected to be an easy ... Continue Reading
Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him

Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him

(CNN) - Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial informatio ... Continue Reading
What we've learned so far from Sessions hearing

What we've learned so far from Sessions hearing

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Jeff Sessions -- President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general -- denied "damnably false charges" of racism Tuesday as he kicked off his hours-long confirmation hear ... Continue Reading
3 Obamacare scenarios and who supports them

3 Obamacare scenarios and who supports them

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republicans on Capitol Hill are working to both "repeal and replace" President Barack Obama's signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.While ev ... Continue Reading
Sessions pledges to respect Roe v. Wade decision despite personal beliefs

Sessions pledges to respect Roe v. Wade decision despite personal beliefs

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Jeff Sessions, in the middle of his confirmation hearing to become President-elect Donald Trump's attorney general, said Tuesday he would respect laws allowing abortion despite his deeply held personal belief that the courts are wrong on the issue.

The Alabama Republican said specifically that he would respect the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that said the right to privacy gives women the right to an abortion.

Sessions, who has consistently voted against abortion rights in the Senate and has a 0% rating from several abortion rights groups, told senators overseeing his committee hearing that although he believed Roe v. Wade violated the Constitution, he would defend it.

"It is the law of the land, it has been settled for some time," Sessions said. "I will respect it and follow it."

Sessions said, however, that he believes the decision was a "colossal" mistake by the Supreme Court.

Trump agrees with Session's personal beliefs on abortion and has said he plans to nominate justices who want to reverse Roe v. Wade.

"I'm pro-life. The judges will be pro-life," Trump said in a post-election interview with CBS, arguing that if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the decision to allow abortions would go to states.

Progressives prepare for battle against Trump

Progressives prepare for battle against Trump

WASHINGTON (CNN) - After two months of licking their wounds, progressive Democrats say they're ready to take on President-elect Donald Trump.Mobilized in part by the stunning primary campaign waged ... Continue Reading
President Obama to offer 'admonitions' in farewell address

President Obama to offer 'admonitions' in farewell address

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama's farewell speech. President-elect Trump's strategy on government inaction. And Team Trump's influence over state party organizations.It's all a part of this week ... Continue Reading
Ethics office: Trump nominees still not properly vetted

Ethics office: Trump nominees still not properly vetted

(CNN) - Several of President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees have still not been properly vetted less than one week before hearings begin on Capitol Hill, the Office of Government Ethics said i ... Continue Reading
Hill GOP skeptical over Trump plan to force Mexico payment of border wall

Hill GOP skeptical over Trump plan to force Mexico payment of border wall

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Donald Trump is still insisting that Mexico will ultimately pay billions for the construction of a massive wall along the southern border.Many Republicans on Capi ... Continue Reading
Obamas to host one final White House bash

Obamas to host one final White House bash

(CNN) - Their East Room parties have been known to stretch into the wee hours of the morning, and on Friday, the Obamas plan to wrap up their term in similar fashion, hosting celebrities and friends ... Continue Reading
In 2010, Trump said WikiLeaks members would be shot within 24 hours in China for their 'spying,' 'espionage'

In 2010, Trump said WikiLeaks members would be shot within 24 hours in China for their 'spying,' 'espionage'

(CNN) - Donald Trump strongly condemned WikiLeaks in a 2010 interview, calling its actions "spying" and "espionage" and saying its members would be shot within 24 hours if they were in a country like ... Continue Reading
URGENT - Donald Trump deposition completed earlier Thursday

URGENT - Donald Trump deposition completed earlier Thursday

(CNN) -- President-elect Donald Trump completed a deposition earlier Thursday over his legal battle against chef José Andrés, Trump transition team spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN.Trump sued Andres for breach of contract after the chef backed out of a plan for a restaurant in Trump's new luxury hotel in Washington. Andres claimed he canceled plans for the project after Trump made disparaging remarks about Mexicans during his presidential campaign.
Mike Pence: Trump's fixer with Hill Republicans

Mike Pence: Trump's fixer with Hill Republicans

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republicans on Capitol Hill are still feeling out President-elect Donald Trump -- but they're warmly embracing his vice president, Mike Pence. Pence held court in private meeting ... Continue Reading
Corker: Tillerson's foreign policy views are 'mainstream' even on Russia

Corker: Tillerson's foreign policy views are 'mainstream' even on Russia

(CNN) - Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson's views on international relations -- including Russia -- are very much in the "mainstream ... Continue Reading
Trump derides intel briefing on 'so-called' Russian hacking

Trump derides intel briefing on 'so-called' Russian hacking

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday evening to deride the US intelligence agencies due to brief him on alleged Russian hacking of American political groups.It ... Continue Reading
Trump celebrates new year with convicted felon

Trump celebrates new year with convicted felon

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new video raises questions about President-elect Donald Trump's relationship with Joseph "Joey No Socks" Cinque, who once reportedly survived a mob hit and was associated with the ... Continue Reading
A brief history of the House GOP's failed ethics ploy

A brief history of the House GOP's failed ethics ploy

(CNN) - On the eve of the 115th Congress, as Republicans prepared for the first time in a decade to assume almost unfettered control of the federal government, the House GOP voted in a closed-door me ... Continue Reading
Democratic dilemma: How hard to fight

Democratic dilemma: How hard to fight

(CNN) - Democrats plotting a return from the political wilderness are facing their first big dilemma: how fiercely to fight President-elect Donald Trump.A new conservative era will dawn in Washing ... Continue Reading
House proposal would eliminate independent ethics body

House proposal would eliminate independent ethics body

WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Republicans will vote Tuesday on a proposal that would weaken Congress' outside independent ethics watchdog charged with investigating potential rules violations.Republican ... Continue Reading
Missile boast puts North Korea threat on Trump's front burner

Missile boast puts North Korea threat on Trump's front burner

WASHINGTON (CNN) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has put the world on notice that he aims to present US President-elect Donald Trump with his first international crisis.The autocratic 32-year-ol ... Continue Reading
Trump spokesman casts doubt on Intel report on Russia hacks

Trump spokesman casts doubt on Intel report on Russia hacks

(CNN) - The President-elect's incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, clashed Monday with CNN host Alisyn Camerota, casting doubt on a US intelligence assessment that suggests Russia directed hacks on ... Continue Reading
Mark Shriver to Trump administration: Don't forget about the children and poor

Mark Shriver to Trump administration: Don't forget about the children and poor

CHICAGO (CNN) - As Congress returns and Washington readies for a new president, the leader of a children's advocacy group fears that vulnerable children and other at-risk communities might have the mo ... Continue Reading
Biographer says Trump booted him from golf course

Biographer says Trump booted him from golf course

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) - The author of a decades-old biography critical of Donald Trump says the now-President-elect asked him to leave a Trump-owned Florida golf course Friday, alleging his p ... Continue Reading
Blackburn, Ivanka Trump making child care affordable

Blackburn, Ivanka Trump making child care affordable

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Marsha Blackburn says she has been discussing legislation to make child care more affordable for working Americans with the President-elect's daughter, Ivanka Trump. "I am d ... Continue Reading
GOP congressman: Putin outsmarted Obama in sanctions response

GOP congressman: Putin outsmarted Obama in sanctions response

(CNN) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is "outsmarting" President Barack Obama in his response to US sanctions in the wake of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, New York Republican ... Continue Reading
Rep. Franks walks back comments on Russia hacking

Rep. Franks walks back comments on Russia hacking

NEW YORK (CNN) - Rep. Trent Franks on Friday walked back comments he made suggesting Russia hackers were only doing what the American media should have done in releasing private emails from the Democr ... Continue Reading
What's their angle? Breaking down the Putin, Trump and Obama spy games

What's their angle? Breaking down the Putin, Trump and Obama spy games

(CNN) - President Barack Obama and his first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, entered the White House in 2009 with visions of a "Russian reset." But Obama will leave office next month in the midst of a shadowy Cold War-era fever dream, as Washington and Moscow are, once again, beset by accusations of diplomatic chicanery and outright espionage.

In dropping a new round of targeted sanctions on Russian diplomats and assets in the US, Obama on Thursday struck back at what the intelligence community has portrayed as an unprecedented -- and successful -- attempt by the Kremlin to meddle in the American democratic process. But even as President Vladimir Putin trolls the White House, saying he will turn the other cheek and sit tight awaiting what figures to be a more friendly administration on the horizon, questions outpace answers.

So what comes next and who holds the advantage? Here's what we know, what the players are saying -- and how the chess match is unfolding.

What did the US do on Thursday and why?

After weeks of ramped-up accusations about Russian hacking and promises of retaliation, the White House announced plans to expel 35 Russian diplomats -- giving them and their families 72 hours to leave the country -- and shuttering a pair of Russian compounds in New York and Maryland used by officials, in theory, for recreational purposes.

The new sanctions follow months of insinuations, leaks and, more recently, open accusations that Moscow set out on a coordinated campaign to hack the private communications of American political actors, making public information that would both undermine voters' confidence in the November elections and, according to some, boost Trump's campaign.

In a "joint analysis report" by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, released with the sanctions notice on Thursday a summary titled "Russian Malicious Cyber Activity" and provided a detailed flowchart seeking to illustrate the complex nature of the Russian hacking effort.

How did Putin respond to the new sanctions?

The Russian President's decision to postpone any retaliation for Washington's sanctions, despite Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recommending the tit-for-tat expulsion of US diplomats, surprised some Kremlin-watchers.

In retrospect, Moscow's tactics appeared orchestrated: first threatening to match the explosions announced by the Obama administration the previous day, then, in seeking to appear magnanimous -- even extending an invitation to the children of American diplomats in Washington to a Christmas party at the Kremlin -- backing off.

At the same time, Putin laid the onus of action on incoming President Donald Trump.

"It's a smart play," said James Nixie, head of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the London-based think-tank Chatham House. He said that while "Russia feels humiliated -- it has been exposed and it has been punished," Putin can afford to wait a few weeks to hit back. "He's thought about it, considered acting now, but in fact is just being patient," Nixie said.

Putin's decision will force Trump to show his hand -- and fast.

"If Trump doesn't play ball, then we'll be back to the old-style adversarial relations," Nixie said. Putin is waiting to see "is Trump on our side, or is he not? At this point, we don't know, either."

On Friday afternoon, the President-elect offered some blunt instruction.

"Great move on delay (by V. Putin)," he tweeted. "I always knew he was very smart!"

Is this the start of a new Cold War?

While there are echoes of the Cold War in the matching expulsion threats, Nixie argued that Russia's actions are predominantly about its future, not its past: Moscow "wants a new set of rules" to govern the way the world is run -- who wields the power, who controls what, and who listens to whom.

Putin's move can also be read as an "enormous insult" to the Obama administration, said Jill Dougherty, a Russia analyst and former Moscow bureau chief for CNN.

"It's an amazing move and it's classic Putin," she said. "He's a master of doing things that are unexpected, and this is truly unexpected."

How strong is the US case against Russia?

That depends on whom you ask.

Trump has for months routinely questioned government assertions that state-sponsored Russian hackers were behind the breaches at the Democratic National Committee and inside Clinton's campaign. He has suggested the Chinese could be to blame, or even "somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds."

But the US government has been laser-focused on Moscow for months. In October, officials publicly announced they were "confident" Russia had targeted the Democratic Party and aligned organizations. Obama this summer allowed, but stopped short of asserting in an interview that Putin had intended to aid Trump.

How the unflattering communications put on display by the hacks affected the election is nearly impossible to quantify, but the slow drip seemed calculated to sow discord and doubt, especially among Democrats during and after a tense primary contest.

Trump now says he'll meet with the intelligence community to hear their case.

Why did the White House act now?

The ultimate decision followed a CIA announcement this month, made in private to a group of top US senators, that the hacks were carried out with the express purpose of delivering the White House to Trump.

Their evidence -- which, again, has not been made public except through leaks to the press -- includes findings that Russian hackers breached, but did not make public information stolen from the accounts of Republicans, including House members and GOP non-profits, according to a former senior law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the hack investigation told CNN.

The Republican National Committee has denied reports that it was compromised or targeted, and earlier this month, Trump's incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, questioned the intelligence community's motives.

"If they are so certain it happened, why won't they go on the record and say it?" Spicer told CNN. "I don't understand it. It doesn't make any sense."

What is Obama's angle here?

The Russians tend to get the credit -- and criticism -- for being crafty or acting covertly to advance a range of interests. On its face, the new round of sanctions are a simple act of retaliation -- less a deft or devious hand than a symbolic swat -- for the Kremlin's alleged role in the election season hacks.

But whether it was intended or not, the Obama administration's decision to act now, less than a month before clearing out ahead of Trump's inaugural, will have a series of knock-on effects that should create difficulties and set a series of political traps for the new administration.

Trump has made no secret of his hopes to establish better relations with Putin and his autocratic regime. He played down news of the sanctions on Thursday, saying it was "time for the country to move on to bigger and better things." A day earlier, the President-elect seemed to throw up his hands entirely, pleading ignorance -- and skepticism -- of all things tech.

"The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on," he said. "And we have speed -- we have a lot of other things, but I'm not sure we have the kind the security we need."

Trump will need a more comprehensive argument, and understanding, if he is going to successfully navigate a Congress almost uniformly in favor of maintaining or, in the case of hawks like Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, pursuing further avenues of redress.

If Obama, his legislative legacy under threat from all corners, can effectively tie up the new administration and members of its own party -- to say nothing of Democrats who will gladly align themselves with more mainstream Republicans -- then he stands a better chance of at least complicating Trump's efforts to undo the work of the past eight years.

What is Trump's play now?

Trump, who has repeatedly said he just wants everyone to move on, can undo the Thursday sanctions with relative ease after he takes office on January 20. But a unilateral decision to reverse course could expose divisions in a GOP caucus that, for all its post-election talk of unity, remains fundamentally divided on key issues like spending and what to do after it repeals Obamacare.

The confluence of Obama's action and Putin's demurral will test Trump right from the jump, as moving for steadier relations with Moscow will now come at a heightened domestic cost. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Russia critic, will likely seek to influence Trump, further stressing their already fragile relationship and challenging incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, who has emerged as a trusted middleman between his idiosyncratic boss and the established GOP order.

While the GOP establishment has stayed critical of Russia, Trump sees it differently. He is also threatened by his unique handicap -- an apparent inability to, at least publicly, conceive of the hacking story as anything more or less than a backdoor assault on the legitimacy of his victory on Election Day.

"If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act?" he asked in a tweet last week, before the sanctions had been finalized. "Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?"

The claim was demonstrably false -- the grousing had begun well before November 8 -- but made clear how Trump perceives the question. In his Thursday statement, the President-elect was more reserved and revealed he would, "in the interest of our country and its great people," take a meeting with "leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."

How Trump responds to those facts, and whether he accepts them at all, will go a long way in articulating the paths ahead. But until those options are clear, his likeliest route is anyone's guess.

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