What you need to know. |

January 13, 2017

By Zeke J. Miller


Inauguration Day is one week away and there is a flurry of activity among both the incoming and outgoing administrations. The Obama Administration Thursday announced the end of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy for Cuban migrants, but maintained a humanitarian exception. It marks the latest, and likely final, step in Obama's rapprochement with Cuba—and one that has an uncertain legacy under the Trump administration. Also Thursday, in a moment created for GIFs and aviator jokes, Obama surprised Vice President Joe Biden with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in an emotional ceremony in the East Room. Biden was told the event was a toast to staff, and entered to see close family and friends from his long career in Washington. Mid-way through his speech, Obama summoned a military aide to present the medal, surprising even some of the White House staffers organizing the event. Obama had personally orchestrated the surprise with a handful of aides.

President-elect Donald Trump is at work filling out the rest of his West Wing team, with aides saying they hope to have most jobs filled by January 20th. A flurry of personnel announcements are expected in the coming days. Meanwhile, his Cabinet nominees are facing a grilling on Capitol Hill—and in several key instances are creating distance between themselves and some of Trump's most controversial policy positions. Gen. John Kelly, his nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, came out against a Muslim ban or registry, and Gen. James Mattis, his nominee to head the Pentagon, took a tough tone on Russia, just to name a few.

The GOP threatens to investigate the top government ethics official. Biden says he was briefed on unsubstantiated allegations against Trump. And Dreamers face uncertain future after confirmation hearings.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

How Donald Trump’s Cabinet Nominees Contradicted Him
TIME's Tessa Berenson on how his nominees have broken with the president-elect

Joe Biden: Intelligence Officials Told President Obama and I That Donald Trump Allegations Might
Biden said there were "no conclusions drawn" from the uncorroborated dossier [Associated Press]

President Obama Gives Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Surprise award marks their "bromance" [TIME]

Dreamers Face Uncertain Future After Confirmation Hearings
TIME's Maya Rhodan on the unanswered questions

G.O.P. Lawmaker Hints at Investigating Ethics Chief Critical of Trump
Partisan payback? [New York Times]

Justice Department Watchdog to Probe FBI’s Handling of Clinton Email Case
Inquiry follows public debate over FBI director’s pre-election statements [Wall Street Journal]

Sound Off

"There were big stretches, while governing, where even though we were doing the right thing, we weren’t able to mobilize public opinion firmly enough behind us to weaken the resolve of the Republicans to stop opposing us or to cooperate with us. And there were times during my presidency where I lost the PR battle." — President Obama to "60 Minutes.

"Ricchetti, You're fired." — Vice President Joe Biden joking to his chief of staff, who was in on President Obama's plan to surprise him with the Medal of Freedom.

Bits and Bites

The Bush Sisters Wrote the Obama Girls A Letter [TIME]

Read the Full Transcript of President Obama Surprising Joe Biden With the Medal of Freedom [TIME]

Look Back at Barack Obama’s First Week in Office [TIME]

Donald Trump’s Pick for Pentagon Chief James Mattis Says Russia Is Trying to ‘Break’ NATO [Associated Press]

Anthony Scaramucci is hired for a top job in Trump’s White House [Washington Post]

Trump tweet on L.L.Bean would break White House rule [Politico]

Trump raises millions to cover inauguration's steep costs [Associated Press]

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