The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Donald Trump hand on heart shutterstock 353116907

    Trump Settles Trump University Fraud Cases for $25 Million

    School’s out. Donald Trump was facing multiple lawsuits for running a scam for-profit university. Reversing his pledge to fight the allegations, Trump settled the cases just 10 days before one of them was set to go before a jury in San Diego. It avoids the awkward spectacle of the president-elect on trial, and possibly taking the stand. Students had paid up to $35,000 for classes on real estate and investing hoping to learn The Donald’s secrets, but the lawsuits claimed instruction was shoddy and sold with high-pressure tactics.

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    Trump Transition: Sessions Offered Attorney General Job

    This might not unify the nation. Donald Trump has reportedly named Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as his attorney general. Sessions, who’s served a decade in the Senate, was rejected from a federal judgeship in 1986 for past comments that were considered openly derogatory toward Black people. Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo was tapped to lead the CIA and retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who has a history of inflammatory statements about Islam, was appointed a National Security Adviser. Meanwhile, Trump set up a weekend meeting with establishment favorite Mitt Romney, who’s rumored to be a potential secretary of state.

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    Baltic States May Test US-NATO Alliance Against Russia

    All eyes are on them. While Donald Trump’s administration is expected to be much friendlier to Russia than previous ones, conflicting loyalties are being tested even before the president-elect takes office. Russian short-range missiles recently massed in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave nestled between Lithuania and Poland. Meanwhile, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have been training civilians to fight back, though some hope Trump will calm tensions. The U.S. is bound by NATO to defend the Baltics, but Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius warns that Russia may test that allegiance.

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    Trump Meets Japan’s PM as Internment Controversy Rises

    Are we forgetting the lessons of history? Donald Trump had his first postelection face-to-face with a world leader yesterday when he sat down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who says he has “great confidence” in Trump’s leadership despite inflammatory campaign rhetoric. Meanwhile, prominent Trump supporter Carl Higbie insisted that a Muslim registry could go forward in America, citing the precedent of WWII-era Japanese internment camps. Higbie later walked back his comments, which drew outrage from Japanese-American lawmakers but no comment from the president-elect.

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    German Foreign Minister: Brexit Means Bank Notes

    Call it pay to not play. Britain’s been counting on Germany, where Angela Merkel’s hoping to hold off rising populism and anti-immigrant sentiment, to be lenient about Brexit terms. But France has demanded punitive payback to keep French Euroskeptics in check, and German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble insists post-divorce Britain will have to pay into the EU until as late as 2030. He says despite Britain’s promises to big companies it’ll still have to follow G20 tax avoidance laws while relinquishing passporting rights crucial to its financial industry.

  6. Arms Embargoes, Faulty Tweets and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: The U.S. wants an arms embargo on South Sudan. Donald Trump tweeted that he’d convinced Ford to keep a plant in Kentucky rather than moving it to Mexico, but Ford says it never planned to close the plant. And a 14-year-old British girl has won the right to be cryogenically frozen.

    Remember This Number: 20. That’s how many countries have had more than one female leader — a crucial metric, because countries that accept one woman in power may assume sexism’s been defeated, making it even more difficult for a second woman to be elected.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.


  1. Houston Texas highway skyline shutterstock 505263937

    Houston’s Mayor Aims to Steer Around Oil Price Plummet

    He knows the process. A legislative veteran who thrived as a Democrat in a Republican-dominated state house, Mayor Sylvester Turner knows how to work the political machinery. Turner, 62, hammers out disputes in private so his agenda sails through council meetings in the nation’s fastest-growing city. After squeaking into office by 4,000 votes, he’s positioning Houston as a beacon of smart growth and diversity. But Turner first must wrangle with a massive debt and pension obligations tied to the whims of oil prices.

  2. Nigeria oil

    Nigerian Pipeline Could Have Lessons for Standing Rock

    This situation has escalated. Nigeria’s decades-long version of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests has gotten violent: Demonstrators this week bombed and destroyed the Nembe Creek Trunk Pipeline, operated by international oil companies including Shell. The militants involved, the Niger Delta Avengers, claim they’re set on stopping the economic exploitation and environmental destruction of the region, but their now-violent movement began with peaceful protests being suppressed by a military dictatorship. Their actions could have serious consequences for Nigeria, where oil accounts for 92 percent of exports.

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    Facebook Struggles With Free Speech in Wake of Election

    They’re not getting many likes in the process. Facebook is trying to adjust to the level of power its platform has, employing an army of subcontractors to deal with flagged content — and expecting them to work incredibly swiftly to deal with each issue. But the rushed work is leading to harmless content getting deleted and hate speech staying on the site. With Twitter having recently banned many alt-right accounts in response to public criticism, many are now looking to Facebook to step up with new solutions.

  4. Bobbi Kristina Brown Nick Gordon shutterstock 110403548

    Nick Gordon Ordered to Pay $36M in Bobbi Kristina Brown’s Death

    A tragic chapter has closed. Brown’s family alleges that Gordon gave his companion — the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown –- a “toxic cocktail” and left her face down in the bathtub of the townhouse they shared. Brown, 22, spent six months in a coma before dying last July. Gordon hasn’t been charged with a crime, but lost the wrongful death civil suit, for which he had no attorney, by default after failing to meet court deadlines. Brown’s death is still under investigation.

  5. Louisville football stadium shutterstock 401467024

    Louisville’s Football Playoff Hopes Crushed by Blowout Loss

    That didn’t take long. Unranked Houston ran up a 31-point lead in the first half and cruised to a 36-10 home victory over No. 5 Louisville. It was the Cardinals’ nationally televised chance to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee — and for quarterback Lamar Jackson to wow Heisman Trophy voters — but the ACC contenders came out discombobulated from the opening kickoff. At 9-2, Louisville’s playoff hopes are shot, but with the national lead in touchdowns, Jackson still has a good chance at individual glory.