The Daily 202: Ayn Rand-acolyte Donald Trump stacks his …

Posted: December 15, 2016 at 12:13 am

Ayn Rand, the Russian-born American novelist, is seen in Manhattan in 1962. That’s Grand Central station behind her. (AP)

THE BIG IDEA:Donald Trump has decided to risk a confirmation fight, officially nominating ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state this morning.Tillerson and Trump had no previous relationship, but the Texas oilman and the New York developer hit it off when they met face to face. One of the things that they have in common is their shared affection for the works of Ayn Rand, the libertarian heroine who celebrated laissez-faire capitalism.

The president-elect said this spring that hes a fan of Rand and identifies with Howard Roark, the main character in The Fountainhead. Roark, played by Gary Cooper in the film adaptation, is an architect who dynamites a housing project he designed because the builders did not precisely follow his blueprints. It relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions. That book relates to … everything, Trump told Kirsten Powersfor a piece in USA Today.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cracks a very rare smile as he signs a huge oil exploration deal with Rex Tillerson. (Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti via AP)

— Tillerson prefers Atlas Shrugged, Rands novel about John Galt secretly organizing a strike of the creative class to hasten the collapse of the bureaucratic society. The CEO listed it as his favorite book in a 2008 feature for Scouting Magazine, according to biographer Steve Coll.

Andy Puzderleaves a meeting with Trump in Bedminster, N.J., last month. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

— This has now officially become a trend. Trump is turning not just to billionaires but Randians to fill the cabinet:

Andy Puzder, tapped by Trump last week to be secretary of labor, is an avid and outspoken fan of Rands books. One profiler last week asked what he does in his free time, and a friend replied that he reads Ayn Rand. He is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which is owned by Roark Capital Group, a private equity fund named after Howard Roark. Puzder, who opposes increases in the minimum wage and wants to automate fast food jobs, was quoted just last month saying that he encouraged his six children to read Fountainhead first and Atlas Shrugged later.

Mike Pompeo sits through a hearing on Capitol Hill. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Mike Pompeo, who will have the now-very-difficult job of directing the Central Intelligence Agency for Trump, has often said that Rands works inspired him. One of the very first serious books I read when I was growing up was Atlas Shrugged, and it really had an impact on me, the Kansas congressman told Human Events in 2011.

Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel arrives with his private security detail at Trump Tower last week. (Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

— Trump has been huddling with and consulting several other Rand followers for advice as he fills out his cabinet. John A. Allison IV, for example, met with Trump for about 90 minutes the week before last. As chief executive of BB&T Corp., he distributed copies of Atlas Shrugged to senior officers and influenced BB&Ts charitable arm to fund classes about the moral foundations of capitalism at a number of colleges, the Journal noted in a piece about him. Mr. Allisons worldview was shaped when he was a college student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and stumbled across a collection of essays by Ms. Rand.

Trump Tower (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

— Ayn Rand was perhaps the leading literary voice in 20th century America for the notion that, in society, there are makers and takers, and that the takers are parasitic moochers who get in the way of the morally-superior innovators. Her books portray the federal government as an evil force, trying to stop hard-working men from accumulating the wealth that she believes they deserve. The author was also an outspoken atheist, something that oozes through in her writing. Rand explained that the essence of objectivism, as she called her ideology, is that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself.

— Some of Rands scenes also dont hold up well in a culture thats become more intolerant of sexual assault and skeptical of patriarchy. Roark, the character Trump says he identifies with, rapes a woman in The Fountainhead, for example.

— For many Republican elites, Rand is someone whose books they read one summer in high school or college and got super excited about but then grew out of once they were exposed to more sophisticated intellectual influences and/or tried to reconcile her world view with the precepts of the Christian faith. (Former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote about this rite of passage in a 2011 column for The Post.)

— Though many would agree that Christianity and objectivism are incompatible, this is not a consensus view: Theres no contradiction between raising my children in the church, and urging them to lead the kind of lives of achievement, integrity and independence that Ayn Rand celebrated in her novels, Puzder, the incoming labor secretary, argued on the Journal opinion page last month, adding that he also had his kids read C.S. Lewiss Mere Christianity.

— Remember that scene in Dirty Dancing when Baby tries to get that waiter who knocked up Johnnys dance partner to pay for her abortion? He refuses and instead pulls out a weathered copy of The Fountainhead, urging her to read it. Some people count, and some people dont, he tells her. Jennifer Greys character responds by pouring a pitcher of water on him. In popular culture, the Rand acolytes are that guy.

The fact that all of these men, so late in life, are such fans of works that celebrate individuals who consistently put themselves before others is therefore deeply revealing. They will now run our government.

Paul Ryan speaks very briefly to the press after his meeting with Trump at Trump Tower last week. (AudeGuerrucci/EPA/Pool)

— Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also used to be an outspoken booster of Rand, but he distanced himselfin order to advance his political ambitions.

In a 2005 speech, Ryan said that Rand was required reading for his office staff and interns. The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand, he told a group called the Atlas Society, according to a New Yorker profile by Ryan Lizza.

By 2012, looking beyond his safely-red House district to the national stage, the Wisconsin congressman claimed that the idea he was inspired by Rand is an urban legend. I reject her philosophy, Ryan told National Review. Its an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a persons view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas AquinasDont give me Ayn Rand!

Stephen Bannon and Jason Miller, the communications director of the Trump transition team, disembark from Trump’s plane in Hebron, Ky., earlier this month. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

— An interesting wrinkle: Stephen Bannon, who will be Trumps chief strategist in the White House, has been sharply critical of Rand. He outlined his world view in a 2014 speech delivered by Skype to a conference held inside the Vatican. In it, he said that there are two strands of capitalism which he finds very disturbing.

One is state-sponsored capitalism. And thats the capitalism you see in China and Russia, he said, according to a transcript posted by BuzzFeed last month. The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism. And, look, Im a big believer in a lot of libertarianism. I have many, many friends that are a very big part of the conservative movement However, that form of capitalism is quite different when you really look at it (compared) to what I call the enlightened capitalism of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost.

— In 2014, when no one anticipated that Trump would actually go through with running for president, John Olivers HBO show produced a four-minute segment making fun of Rands enduring appeal to so many conservatives and rich people. After sound bites of Rand ripping into Ronald Reagan and explaining why she supports abortion rights, the narrator asks: Why would conservatives hold up as their idol someone who says things like that? Especially when there are so many other advocates for selfishness they could choose, like Donald Trump

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Trump’s children at the Oct. 9 debate. (Tasos KatopodisAFP/Getty Images)

— Trump canceled his speech, promised for this week, on how he’ll deal with his many conflicts of interest. But last night in a pair of tweets he vowed vaguelyto make “no new deals” while he is in the White House and said he will hand over control of his businesses to his sons before inauguration. Elise Viebeck reports:Trumps tweets gave no indication that he will give up his ownership stake in his global real estate and licensing empire, which experts have advocated as the only way to ensure Trump could not profit from the impact of his own policies. [He also] gave no details on how his businesses would operate without embarking on new business deals, nor how transparency would be provided so the public could judge whether that pledge is being upheld.”

Rick Perry arrives at Trump Tower to meet with Trump. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

— Trump has settled on Rick Perry to be energy secretary, according to CBS News. He tapped the former Texas governor over a pool of contenders including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and fundraiser Ray Washburne. Major Garrett has more: Perry sits on two corporate boards – one of them is Energy Transfer Partners – and that may present a confirmation issue. Energy Transfer Partners has a subsidiary known as Dakota Access LLC, which is attempting to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. Recently, the Obama administration blocked the Dakota Access Pipeline easement through Lake Oahe, a move that jeopardized the 1,172-mile underground pipeline. The incoming Trump administration has said it will review the decision. Mr. Trump once invested in Energy Transfer Partners and supports completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Tom Perez speaks on Capitol Hill. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

— The DNC candidate that Team Obama hoped for: Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said he intends to run for party chairman, throwing his hat in the ring alongside Rep. Keith Ellison, who had emerged as an early favorite in the race. TheNew York Times Jonathan Martinreports:Mr. Perez, who had also been considering a run for Maryland governor, is expected to reveal his plan to seek the D.N.C. chairmanship this week. He has been wooed by prominent Democrats for weeks to seek the party post, a lobbying campaign that included entreaties from high-level allies of Mr. Obama. Mr. Perez, who has been on the phone with a number of Democratic governors and other party leaders, is expected to meet with the president himself to discuss the position this week. Mr. Perezs entry into the race could start a proxy battle between Democrats loyal to the Mr. Obama and those from the more liberal wing of the party represented by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is backing Mr. Ellison, a Minnesota progressive, for party chairman.The new narrative, via the AP: Ellisons star falling as Clinton, Obama allies seek DNC alternative.

A man carries a child with an IV drip as he flees deeper into the remaining rebel-held areas of Aleppo, Syria, yesterday. (Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters)

THE WORLD NEEDS TO PAY ATTENTION TO THIS:

— Syrian forces, with the help of the Russians, have pushed rebel fighters to the brink in Aleppo, pinning them to just a sliver of remaining territory as they continuetheir push for full control of the northern Syrian city. Aleppos fall would deliver amajor setback to rebel factions, leaving them struggling for ways to keep the anti-Assad rebellion alive without theirterritorial stronghold. The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen. (Louisa Loveluck has more.)

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. human rights office, said they received reports that government forces have killed at least 82 civilians, sometimes entering homes and killing people on the spot. Jens Laerke, U.N. humanitarian spokesman, said that it looked like a complete meltdown of humanity in Aleppo.

From The Posts Syria reporter:

On Monday night, the phones of most civilians contacted by The Washington Post appeared to have fallen silent, Louisa writes in her latest dispatch. Their fate remains unknown.

From the New York Times’s Beirut bureau chief:

Bana Alabed, a seven-year-old girl in Aleppo who has been called the Anne Frank of our era, tweeted that her father was injured shortly before her account went silent:

It is unclear whether Bana or her family survived the blasts:

A teacher and activist recorded his final words as Assads militia closed in. No place now to go now, he says, ducking to hide on a bombed-out street corner. It’s the last place.”

From a search and rescue volunteer group in the area:

Chaka Fattahexits the federal courthouse after his sentencing hearing in Philadelphia yesterday. (Matt Rourke/AP)

GET SMART FAST:

Rex Tillersontestifies before a House committee in 2010. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

THE TILLERSON ROLLOUT:

–The Trump team is planning an aggressive public relations campaign to win confirmation forTillersonand dispel what it sees as a false narrative about his ties to Russia,”Steven Mufson, Philip Rucker and Karoun Demirjian report: “Former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and James Baker are planning to go public [this morning] with their support for Tillerson, as is former defense secretary Robert Gates. Former vice president Richard B. Cheney also is supportive and may advocate for his confirmation. Gates was the first person to raise Tillerson as a secretary of state possibility. … Trump did not know much about Tillerson but started chewing over the idea. He invited Tillerson for a meeting and the two global dealmakers hit it off. They recognized similarities in each other, and the more they talked, the more they liked each other.”

— At least four Republican senators have now publicly expressed their concerns with Tillersons Russia ties: Sen. Lindsey Graham called the fact that Putin gave Tillerson the Kremlins Order of Friendship award in 2012 unnerving, while Sen. John McCain questioned Tillersons judgment. I dont see how anybody could be a friend of this old time KGB agent, he said in a CNN interview, referring to Putin. (Marco Rubio criticized Tillerson in a tweet this weekend, and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said he has a lot of questions about the oil businessman.)

–ChrisCillizzaanalysis: What Trump offered in the course of the campaign was a radical change in the way of doing the business of the American public.That change included and, in many ways, was typified by the sort of people he said he would surround himself with if he were elected. He is, quite literally, making good on a central campaign promise by favoring people like Tillerson. And yet, there is a general sense of shock within the political establishment about the idea that someone with Tillerson’s background [was tapped to head the State Department] Much of this consternation is built on the political establishment’s inability to fully grasp that the old rules of how things are done in politics are simply not operative with Trump. As he has made clear over and over again, Trump simply see no rules or, if he does see them, he chooses not to acknowledge that he is governed by them.”

— Trumps long-time adviser Roger Stone acknowledged that the secretary of state job was dangled in front of Mitt Romney primarily to torture him for previously opposing the president-elect. During an appearance on InfoWars with Alex Jones, the conspiratorial media outlet that says 9/11 was an inside job and which has become a mouthpiece for the next president (hes appeared on the show), Trumps informal adviser called Romney a choker. Donald Trump was interviewing Mitt Romney for Secretary of State in order to torture him, Stone said. To toy with him! And given the history, thats completely understandable. Mitt Romney crossed a line. He didnt just oppose Trump, which is his democratic right, he called him a phony and a fraud. And a con man. And thats not the kind of man you want as Secretary of State. (Daily Beasts Gideon Resnick)

Vladimir and Rex shake hands at a signing ceremony of an agreement between state-controlled Russian oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil at the Black Sea port of Tuapse in 2012. (RIA-Novosti/AP)

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

— The CIA assessment that Russia waged a cyber-campaign to help elect [Trump] is based in part on intelligence suggesting that Moscows hacking efforts were disproportionately aimed at targets tied to the Democratic Party and [Hillary Clinton], Greg Miller and Adam Entous report.U.S. officials said that both parties were repeatedly targeted as part of a months-long cyber-operation linked to Moscow, but that Democratic institutions and operatives came under a more sustained and determined online assault. [They also] said the Republican National Committees computer systems were also probed and possibly penetrated by hackers tied to Russian intelligence services, but that it remains unclear how much material if any was taken from the RNC. U.S. intelligence officials said that the Russian government appears to have succeeded in penetrating computer systems associated with both parties, but prioritized Democratic institutions Other officials familiar with the CIAs assessment said there is high confidence that the RNC was targeted but less certainty that the Russians got inside the committee and stole material.

— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber plans to investigate Russias suspected election interference, but he stopped short of calling for a bipartisan select committee to investigate the hack. The Russians are not our friends, McConnell declared at a year-end news conference. This simply cannot be a partisan issue, he said, adding that the Intelligence Committee is more than capable of conducting a complete review of this matter. (Ed O’Keefe and Paul Kane)

— Paul Ryan also dismissed calls for a special panel, saying that the House Intelligence Committee is already working diligently on the cyber threats posed by foreign governments and terrorist organizations.

— House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), meanwhile, sent a letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper demanding answers about why lawmakers werent told about conflicting CIA and FBI reports on Russian hacking before reports on the topic appeared in the press. Karoun Demirjian reports: Nunes took issue with the DNI over some of the details from [reports] accusing the CIA of changing its tune about Russias role in hacking emails from the DNC and Hillary Clintons campaign chairman . Nunes pointed out that Clapper himself had told his committee during an open November hearing that the intelligence community lacked strong evidence connecting Russian government cyber-attacks and WikiLeaks disclosures. He asked Clapper to brief the committee by Friday about the CIA and FBIs latest intelligence of what role Russia played in hacks related to the election, including a coordinated, written assessment of the intelligence communitys current position and update them on the presidents plans to review allegations of Russian hacking.

— Harry Reid accused Trumps campaign of colluding with WikiLeaks in the months preceding the presidential election. The outgoing Senate Minority Leader saidsomeone in the president-elects orbit was certainly aware of the activity. Someone in the Trump campaign organization was in on the deal. I have no doubt. Now, whether they told [Trump] or not, I dont know. I assume they did. But there is no question about that, Reid told theHuffington Posts Ryan Grim and Sam Stein. So there is collusion there, clearly. … Dont put blindfolds on. Here is the deal: We have a situation where during the campaign WikiLeaks was heavily involved in trying to hurt Hillary Clinton and it helped Trump. And you have Trump who said he likes Putin better than he likes Obama.

— Trump pushed back on Twitter:

(All the experts agree that Trump is wrong on this point.)

— Escalation: Last night on TV, Trump’s campaign manager questioned whether the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee (Rep. Adam Schiff) has actually been briefed on Russia’s meddling (which he, of course, has). That led to this back-and-forth:

The congressman from Los Angeles engaged:

To which Conway replied:

— Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta backed a group of Electoral College electors who are asking to receive an intelligence briefing on foreign interventioninto the 2016 election ahead of their December 19 vote. FromCNN: The 10 electors from five states asked James Clapper for information on “whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations.” They also asked for “all investigative findings” from the intelligence community on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. (One of the signatories is Nancy Pelosi’s daughter.)

— Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden writes in a Post op-edabout why it is such a big problem that Trump isalready antagonizing the intelligence community: How does the intelligence community break through and explain itself to the incoming team? Can it convincingly make a case that an evidence-based description of Russian actions is not the same thing as an attack on the legitimacy of the president-elect? Can it explain that, unlike law enforcement that seeks to prove things beyond any reasonable doubt, the purpose of intelligence is to enable meaningful policy and action even in the face of lingering doubt? And can it demonstrate that the incoming administration should want rather than discourage this to better anticipate global trends and adversarial moves in time to reflect and decide on its own actions? As I wrote last month, intelligence should be called on to create the basis, and set the boundaries, for rational policy choices. Thats still true. The odds that it will happen, though, seem a little bleaker after this past week. And we are moving in the wrong direction.

— Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA, calls Russias interference “the political equivalent of 9/11. The first is, we need to see this for what it is. It is an attack on our very democracy, he said in an interview with The Cipher Brief. Its an attack on who we are as a people. A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life. To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11. It is huge and the fact that it hasnt gotten more attention from the Obama Administration, Congress, and the mainstream media, is just shocking to me. But whats important to me is, its less important that they had picked the winner and loser, which I thought all along they had done. Whats most important is that they did indeed meddle. I think the implications of that are just absolutely huge

— We will never know for sure if Russian espionage caused Trump to win, Post columnist and former Bush adviser Michael Gerson writes. With Clinton losing by an 80,000-vote margin in three key states, everything her poor messaging, her consistently bungled response to the email controversy, [James] Comeys untimely letter can be posited as the reason she lost. A hypothetical outcome minus Russian involvement is not just unknown, it is unknowable. [BUT] Trumps blanket attack on the intelligence community for incompetence as though he were still going after Little Marco or Lyin Ted is an insanely dangerous antic that materially undermines American security. Given the extraordinary range of threats faced by the United States a mutual trust between the president and American intelligence services is essential. That relationship has already been seriously damaged.

Goldman Sachs COO Gary Cohn talks on his phone as he waits for the start of a meeting with Trump at Trump Tower. (Evan Vucci/AP)

MORE TRUMP STAFFING DECISIONS:

— Trump confirmed that he will appoint Goldman Sachs veteran Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council, adding another former Wall Street executive to his administration. From CNN Money: Trump, in a statement, said Cohn will design and coordinate his administration’s economic policy, working closely with the Treasury and Commerce departments. The post does not require Senate approval. Cohn, a 25-year Goldman Sachs veteran, made at least $123 million in total compensation since becoming the bank’s sole president and chief operating officer in 2009 He had been rumored to be a candidate for a number of jobs within the Trump administration, including to head up the powerful Office of Management and Budget.”

— Some of Trumps closest rural advisers are attempting to torpedo efforts to make Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) the next Agriculture secretary, telling him they feel betrayed even at the thought of a Democrat getting the position over a deep bench of Republicans who campaigned on his behalf in rural areas. In the past 48 hours, since Heitkamp was [reported as] the front-runner for the position, leaders of Trumps agricultural advisory committee say theyve been flooded with furious phone calls from influential farmers around the country, and have reached out to the transition team to fight the consideration of Heitkamp, Politicos Ian Kullgren and Catherine Boudreau report. I was blindsided, as was everyone on the Trump agricultural advisory committee whos contacted me, said Gary Baise, a Washington-based lawyer who helped the Trump campaign build a network of rural supporters. The anger is personal [and] Trumps rural allies say tapping Heitkamp would be a slap in the face to farm-state Republicans who stuck by the real estate mogul through the darkest days of his campaign.

— Michigan Republican Party leader Ronna Romney, niece to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is said to be Trump’s pick for RNC chair. CNN reports that an announcement is expected as soon as this week.

— Kellyanne Conway said she will not serve as Trumps press secretary, telling radio host Hugh Hewitt in a radio interview that she turned down the high-profile White House gig. “I have politely declined that job,” she said. “I think it’s an incredibly important position to fill.” She has floated the possibility of working outside Trumps administration to steer a network of political organizations supporting the president-elect and his agenda.

— Trump has begun to shift his focus from the cabinet to White House senior staff.Politicos Shane Goldmacher reports that some jobs are now seen as near-locks:

— The press is bulking up to cover Trump, as well: Fox News announced that John Roberts will be its White House correspondent, an important role because of the network’s influence and how much time Trump spends watching cable. Both The Post and the New York Times also announced yesterday that they will devote six reporters full-time to the White House beat, more than when Obama took office.(Erik Wemple)

Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions waves to reporters after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Nov. 30. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

— The Boston Globes Annie Linskey exploresthe episode that brought Jeff Sessions and Trump together for the first time: The year was 2005, and Sessions was astonished by a sensational news report: A project to overhaul the United Nations headquarters in New York would cost more than $1 billion. He was just as stunned that a celebrity New York developer quoted in the article claimed it could be done for about half the cost. Suddenly the junior senator from Alabama took an interest in the New York billionaire. Mr. Trump is very outraged! Sessions informed his colleagues in an April floor speech that year. This would lead to a high-profile Senate hearing that, at Sessionss request, featured Trump as the star witness

Indeed, the July 2005 hearing was classic Trump: Some straight talk laced with braggadocio. The developer boasted about his nearby property, he bragged about his smarts negotiating with New York contractors (whom he called major slime), and railed against a decision by the UN to hire an Italian design firm to do the work. I love Italy. I love the Italians. How do you hire an Italian architect? Trump said. What happens? Every time he wants to check the building, he gets on a plane and flies for 8 hours, and he goes to the New York City Building Department and he does not even speak English? I mean it is ridiculous. Sessions loved it. Mr. Trump is a breath of fresh air for this Senate, Sessions said at the time. The UN ended up completing the project, about three years late and costing nearly $400 million more than its budget, even though the scope of the project was reduced vastly.

Flashback: What Ted Kennedy said during Sessionss last confirmation hearing before the Judiciary committee: He was rejected by the Senate judiciary panel in 1986 for a federal judgeship at the behest of opponents including Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy, who were both members of the panel. Kennedy, the Massachusetts senator, pilloried Sessions for indicting three well-known black civil rights leaders on counts of voter fraud. They were later cleared of the charges. Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past, Kennedy said in the March 1986 hearing. He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination.

Richard Nixon campaigns in Missouri in 1968. (AP)

— THE NEW NIXON? Trumps speech at the Republican National Convention was inspired by and modeled after Richard Nixons 1968 speech. Now Trump is going to hang a reminder of Nixon in the Oval Office. Politico has sources saying that Trump has told multiple people he plans to prominently display a 1987 letter that the former president, who resigned in scandal, sent him. Dear Donald, it reads, I did not see the program, but Mrs. Nixon told me that you were great on the Donahue Show. As you can imagine, she is an expert on politics and she predicts that whenever you decide to run for office you will be a winner!

Detectives are investigating a vandalism and theft that happened at a Silver Spring home in the 200 block of Williamsburg Drive. It is among numerous incidents of reported hate graffiti throughout Montgomery County, and in the schools, in recent weeks. (Montgomery County Police Department)

AMERICAIS DIVIDED, AND THE ALT-RIGHT IS ASCENDANT:

— When tyranny takes hold, by The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos: What is the precise moment, in the life of a country, when tyranny takes hold? It rarely happens in an instant; it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust. Tyranny does not begin with violence; it begins with the first gesture of collaboration … Its most enduring crime is drawing decent men and women into its siege of the truth.

— Montgomery County educators report a massive spike in hate graffiti since Trumps victory. In the past month, officials said, theyve found more on-campus drawings of swastikas and other racist insults then they encountered during an entire one-year span in 2015. (Donna St. George)

— The grotesque slurs and threats that Jewish political journalists face has only increased since the election. The AP’s Lisa Lerer shared this one last night:

— When even Frosted Flakes are political, where does that leave us as a country? by Monica Hesse: Everything is political these days. Every single decision. Five weeks after the end of a bitter presidential election, it hasnt ended at all: Its merely reached a new phase in which the things we buy are seen as surrogates for the people we voted for. Consider: A new app, Boycott Trump, allows users to weed out businesses that have even loose ties to [Trumps] empire. Boycott Trump has a counterpart in the conservative American Family Associations Naughty or Nice list, which offers shopping guidance based on which retailers are Merry Christmas-friendly. Avoid PetSmart, the list suggests. Choose Banana Republic over the Gap. Setting aside whether these boycotts are effective in terms of sales one wonders whether they are effective in terms of our national future. In this fractured, limping mess of a country, whose inhabitants are struggling to not punch one anothers lights out, much less to have a civil conversation if we cant even eat the same cereal, then where does that leave us?”

Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, joins Hillary Clinton on stage after the Democratic candidate spoke to supporters of the group in June. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

— Planned Parenthood fears it may be first casualty of rekindled abortion war, by Sandhya Somashekhar and Katie Zezima: Planned Parenthood officials are scrambling to prepare for the likelihood that Congress next year will cut off more than a half-billion dollars in federal funding to the group, fulfilling the wishes of abortion foes who are planning an aggressive push to roll back abortion rights under [Trump]. Officials with the 100-year-old womens health nonprofit organization are leaning on donors, new and old, and preparing to lobby friendly lawmakers at the state and local level to stem some of the loss. They have started gaming out which communities might be able to withstand a loss of services. They are asking supporters to get their medical care at Planned Parenthood clinics to increase the proportion of privately insured patients. The federal dollars to Planned Parenthood make up more than 40 percent of its budget. Such a loss, Planned Parenthood officials say, would force them to close many programs and turn away many of the 2.5 million patients their clinics see annually.”

Harry and Terri Welch talk to the Postafter their son, Edgar Maddison Welch, was arrested in a “pizzagate” shooting in D.C.(Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

— The parents of pizzagate gunman Edgar Maddison Welch said they were stunned by the news that their son had driven to Washington and opened fire at a D.C. pizzeria, and they believe he may be showing signs of PTSD after a car crash he was involved in earlier this year. My heart just stopped and stomach just dropped, Terri Welch said in an interview with The Posts Keith L. Alexander and Susan Svrluga, recalling the moment she found out her son had been arrested. They also said they noticed a change in Welchs personality after he hit and injured a 13-year-old boy on his way to work earlier this year. Maddison, who hopes to be an EMT, stayed with the teen until help arrived and worried a lot about long-term effects for the child, they said. He was very traumatized. We feel that accident changed him, Harry Welch said, adding that his usually outgoing and energetic son became melancholy and quiet.

A man takes a selfie in front of placard with a picture of Melania Trump in her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia. The banner reads, “Welcome in hometown of first lady of U.S.” (Srdjan Zivulovic/Reuters)

–MelaniaTrump appeared in a Maryland courtroom on Monday for a status hearing in her defamation case against a Montgomery County blogger and a British tabloid.Mrs. Trump was not required to attend the court conference but chose to do so to meet the judge, meet opposing counsel and show her commitment to the case, said her attorney, Charles Harder, adding that she looks forward to seeing the case to a successful conclusion. The case stems from false assertions that she had once worked as a high-end escort. (Dan Morse)

The Obamas pose for a family portrait on Easter. (Pete Souza/The White House/Getty)

OBAMA’S LEGACY — THREE GREAT WAPO STORIES ON THE FIRST FAMILY:

— The Obamas came from a place we all came from, byWil Haygood: If, at times, the everyday presence of a black American family in the nations mind-set has seemed to unleash forces both good and not so good, there are some things that will resonate and be spoken of for generations to come: A black father as president walked his girls hand-in-hand across the lawn of the most powerful address in the world. A black mother gazed at that tableau and took herself back to the stories of beaten-down slaves who once tilled the White House lawns where her husband and daughters loped As Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama depart the White House, it is worth looking back at their visage. What did it mean to have a black family, for eight years, astride the political and cultural colossus of American society? How much did the African in African American resonate? President Obamas post-presidency plans are bountiful. But his prayed-for attention to black America will be robust In a nation that has never had a candid conversation about race unlike South Africa after apartheid, with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission he will find himself expected to play the role of shaman, poet, conciliator and statesman.

— How Michelle Obama became a singular American voice, by Peter Slevin: Obamas ascendance as mother, mentor, leader and critic carries many meanings in American culture, particularly as an African American woman For all the grief Michelle Obama took from critics who conjured radicalism, grievance or, bizarrely, racism from her finely tuned remarks, her messages were fundamentally timeless and conservative. More than anything, she used the strength of her own Chicago-to-Princeton-to-the-White-House narrative to urge kids to believe in themselves and never quit. In reaching the most rarefied of tables, she figured she had four years, maybe eight, to make something happen, to move the needle, as she put it. As the media made a fuss over a new hairstyle, she once explained how she saw the role of first lady: We take our bangs and we stand in front of important things that the world needs to see. And, eventually, people stop looking at the bangs and they start looking at what were standing in front of.

Obama, Biden and Claire Duncan, Arne Duncan’s daughter, watch a tennis match at Camp David in 2010. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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