Inauguration 2017 TRAIL GUIDE
NATION POLITICS TRAIL GUIDE

This is our look at President-elect Donald Trump's transition and the outgoing Obama administration:

Inauguration

This weed advocacy group plans to pass out joints on its way to Trump's inauguration

Inauguration

A look at Washington a day before the inauguration

Photo Gallery: Fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial after a public concert and appearance by President-elect Donald Trump. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Photo Gallery: Fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial after a public concert and appearance by President-elect Donald Trump. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Transition

John Kerry leaves the State Department warning of challenges to the press and fact-gathering

 (Wires)
(Wires)

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, on his last full day on the job Thursday, told a lobby packed with diplomats that facts are facts "for a reason" and urged the staff to continue fighting for justice.

In a bittersweet departure from the State Department compound, Kerry sought to counter the rhetoric from President-elect Donald Trump, who has called global warming a hoax and suggested the European Union was created against U.S. interests.

Kerry also hoped to rally a clearly dispirited diplomatic corps that feels its mission is undefined.

He told them to "stay faithful" to their ideals and to "make ripples that sweep down the walls of resistance to justice."

Kerry received thunderous applause in a cavernous foyer that displays dozens of flags as well as a memorial to State Department employees killed in the line of duty.

"Facts are facts.... Science is science," Kerry said. "It means something, for a reason."

Kerry was embraced by Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon, who will become acting secretary of State until Trump's selection for the job, former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson, is confirmed by the Senate.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion," Kerry said, quoting the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. "But no one is entitled to his own facts."

Kerry also bade farewell to the State Department press corps, telling members that a fair and open press was "more important than at any time" in his public life.

Again without referring to the Trump administration, Kerry said that the press will be tested not only by abusive foreign governments but by "some folks in the political world."

The incoming administration has given few guarantees of transparency or continued access of the press to government venues such as the White House or the State Department.

Kerry retires after 1.4 million miles flown, work in 91 countries and 3,700 hours on the phone, he said. Despite glaring failures, like the devastating war in Syria, he cast his work as the effort to "not be caught not trying," whether or not success followed.

Inauguration

T-minus one day until Trump's inauguration. Here's a preview from Washington

The Marine Corps Band rehearses outside the Capitol on Thursday. (EPA / Shawn Thew)
The Marine Corps Band rehearses outside the Capitol on Thursday. (EPA / Shawn Thew)
 (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Want to keep up with the latest from the inauguration? Follow our team.

Mnuchin failed to disclose $95 million in real estate holdings and leadership of Cayman Islands corporation

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary pick of President-elect Donald Trump, initially failed to disclose $95 million in real estate holdings to the Senate Finance Committee.

Mnuchin, a wealthy Wall Street executive, also failed to disclose his position as director of a corporation in the Cayman Islands, a well-known offshore tax haven, according to a memo from the Senate Finance Committee's Democratic staff.

The undisclosed information, which also included about $907,000 worth of artwork held by his children, was not on the committee questionnaire Mnuchin submitted on Dec. 19.

After questions from committee staff, Mnuchin included the information on revised questionnaires he submitted this month.

At his confirmation hearing before the committee Thursday, Mnuchin said the oversight was unintentional.

"I think as you all can appreciate, filing out these government forms is quite complicated," Mnuchin said.

He said the omissions were caused by trying to get the questionnaire to the committee early and advice from his attorney that the information did not need to be disclosed.

Among the real estate assets are homes in Los Angeles and Southampton, N.Y., and $15 million in holdings in Mexico.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said "it doesn't take a rocket scientist" to understand the meaning of the questionnaire's language to list all of the positions he held.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Mnuchin of trying "to hide his holdings in the Cayman Islands."

Mnuchin said the preliminary questionnaire listed his interest in the Cayman Islands corporation, Dune Capital International, but omitted his role as a director.

"I listed the entity," Mnuchin said. "So the fact that I didn’t list I was a director wasn’t intended to hide anything."

Mnuchin commits to looking into Trump's foreign debt

Donald Trump's Treasury secretary pick, Steven Mnuchin, told senators at his confirmation hearing Thursday that he would look into the foreign debt of the president-elect's businesses.

The Treasury secretary chairs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an inter-agency committee that determines whether transactions involving foreign control of U.S. businesses affect national security.

Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee questioned Mnuchin on how he would exercise that authority to make sure Trump's international investments don't diminish national security or violate the Constitution's prohibition on U.S. officials receiving benefits from foreign governments.

"The American people want to know how much debt that is owed by the Trump businesses to foreign entities because that could have a direct impact on our national security," said Sen. Claire McKaskill (D-Mo.).

Trump has said he would turn over management of his company's assets to his sons but won't sell his interests.

McKaskill asked Mnuchin if, as Treasury secretary, he should know what percentage of Trump's debt is held by foreign interests.

"I think you have a valid point about foreign debt and understanding foreign things, and I will research that and get back to you," Mnuchin said.

But Mnuchin would not commit to reporting back to the committee on that percentage.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said Mnuchin would need that information to determine that there are "no special breaks being given to a Trump enterprise."

Mnuchin said Trump's situation is unique because of his "vast amount of money."

"I can assure you that we will make sure that we absolutely follow the law and the Constitution and I have very reason to believe that the president-elect absolutely wants to adhere to it and will do so," Mnuchin said.

Inauguration Transition White House

Donald Trump distant from his businesses? Not this week

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump announced the myriad ways he said he was distancing himself from his business interests to avoid the appearance of conflicts as neared his Friday inauguration.

This week, there’s not much separation.

Trump showed up at the Trump International hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, blocks from the White House, for dinner Wednesday night. He attended a lunch there Thursday.

"Where is this? This is a gorgeous room," Trump said, joking. "A total genius must have built this place."

All of it served, via the television screen and other forms of communication, to show the president-elect touting the businesses in which he still holds a financial interest.

Trump said last week that his sons Don Jr. and Eric would run the company while he was president, but that he would return once he leaves office.

Asked Thursday whether Trump’s repeat visits to his hotel compromised the message that he was separating himself from the company, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said it did no such thing.

“That he's going to his own hotel? I mean, I think that's pretty smart,” Spicer said. “The idea that he's going to his own hotel shouldn't be a shocker. It's a beautiful place.”

Then Spicer himself touted the president-elect’s hotel.

“It's an absolutely stunning hotel. I encourage you to go there, if you haven't been by,” he said.

For news reporters, that may not be possible. Politico reported Wednesday that reporters were banned from the site — which is owned by the federal government and leased by the Trump organization.

It cited an email from the hotel’s director of sales and marketing , which said the ban was in effect this week “in respect of the privacy of our guests.”

Trump would support hiring more IRS workers 'to make money' for the government, Mnuchin says

Treasury secretary pick Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he wanted to beef up the Internal Revenue Service and believed he could convince President-elect Donald Trump to increase staff despite promises of a hiring freeze.

Mnuchin said he was concerned about staffing at the IRS, which is part of the Treasury Department, and the agency's "lack of first-rate technology."

But given Trump's promise of a federal government hiring freeze, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), asked Mnuchin whether he would lobby for more IRS workers.

"I assume you'll have an opportunity to talk to the president and hopefully get the number of people you need because they can't do it with their current workforce," Cardin said.

Mnuchin said that would not be a hard sell to Trump.

"I can assure you that the president-elect understands the concept of when we add people, we make money," Mnuchin said. "He’ll get that completely. That's a very quick conversation with Donald Trump."

Transition

Donald Trump's Cabinet is complete: No Latinos for the first time since 1989

 (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Donald Trump’s preferred Cabinet is now complete — and it’s the least diverse by any president, Republican or Democrat, since the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan. It’s also the first since 1989 not to include a Latino member.

Overwhelmingly, Trump’s Cabinet is white and male. The 15 formal slots include one African American man, secretary of Housing and Urban Development-designate Ben Carson; an Asian American woman, secretary of Transportation-designate Elaine Chao; and a white woman, Betsy DeVos, Trump's pick to run the Department of Education.

All Cabinet selections must be confirmed by the Senate.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday that the absence of Latinos in the high ranks of Trump’s administration — following a campaign in which the president-elect was often critical of them — should not be considered a breach of his promise to represent all Americans.

“He is here to serve all,” Spicer said.

“The number one thing that I think Americans should focus on, is he hiring the best and the brightest? Is he hiring people who are committed to enacting real change, respecting taxpayers, bringing about an agenda that will create jobs, lift up wages?"

He said Trump’s administration will include “diversity in gender and diversity in thinking and a diversity of ideology. So, it’s not just about, you know, skin color or ethnic heritage.”

Asked whether he meant to imply that no Latino candidate made the cut as among the “best and the brightest”, Spicer sharply retorted: “That’s not what I said.”

He added that other jobs remained to be filled: “I caution you to stay tuned.”

Trump’s Thursday designation of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as secretary of Agriculture completed his Cabinet selections.

At least one Latino, former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, interviewed for the job. On Wednesday night, he tweeted a picture from the lobby of the Trump International hotel a few blocks from the White House of “a beautiful bottle of Trump Sparkling Wine.”

Congress Transition

Senators are likely to confirm Trump's national security Cabinet picks on Friday

At least three of President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks are likely to be confirmed by the Senate as soon as Friday, while Democrats dig in against others that they say need more scrutiny.

Trump's national security team — James Mattis as Defense secretary and John Kelly at Homeland Security, both retired Marine generals — do not appear to be running into much resistance. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as CIA director could also be confirmed Friday or Monday.

But Democrats are holding the line against Trump's other choices, who have run into questions over their personal finances and work history. Eight of Trump's picks are in Democrats' sights.

"The president-elect's Cabinet is a swamp Cabinet," said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) "Senate Democrats and the American people won't stand for it."

The Senate is set to convene Friday afternoon, after Trump takes the oath of office, to confirm some of his choices.

Republicans are pushing for the Senate to allow not just the national security team, but other selections, noting that the Senate swiftly confirmed eight of President Obama's nominees when the GOP was in the minority in 2009.

On Thursday, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer mentioned Elaine Chao at Transportation, Ben Carson as Housing secretary and Nikki Haley, the South Carolina governor, as the ambassador to the United Nations as picks who have not run into resistance and should be quickly confirmed.

But Trump's other choices are drawing deep resistance.

Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of State and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for Health and Human Services have run into tough questioning, and Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin was being grilled by senators Thursday. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) is expected to run into tough questions at his hearing to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

As the minority, Democrats do not have enough votes in their 48-seat caucus to block most of Trump's picks. But they can slow the process.

They are demanding more robust hearings, especially because several of those under consideration have not completed the paperwork typically required.

With Republicans holding 52 seats in the Senate, they are expected to easily confirm most of Trump's picks after Democrats changed the rules several years ago to allow for a simple majority vote on most nominees.

Mnuchin says offshore locations were for clients, not for personal tax avoidance

Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Trump's pick for Treasury secretary, said his hedge fund set up offshore corporations to serve clients and not so he could avoid paying U.S. taxes himself.

Pressed by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee on entities set up in the Cayman Islands and Anguilla, Mnuchin said they were "primarily intended to accommodate nonprofits and pensions that want to invest" through them.

Mnuchin said "in no way did I use them whatsoever to avoid any U.S. taxes."

But Democrats weren't satisfied.

"So you helped others avoid paying taxes?" asked Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Mnuchin responded that they didn't avoid paying taxes.

"They followed the law," he said.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) asked Mnuchin if he supported closing such "tax avoidance provisions."

"We should address the issues for nonprofits and pensions and why they need to invest in these offshore funds," Mnuchin said.

Congress Transition

Without a promise to protect young immigrants, Sen. Kamala Harris will not support Trump's Homeland Security pick

 (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Without a guarantee that people brought to the country illegally as children won't be deported, California Sen. Kamala Harris said Thursday that she will not support John Kelly, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Homeland Security Department.

“I am very concerned that Gen. Kelly has not been able to commit to me that he will honor the promise we made to those kids,” she told The Times.

Kelly is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate. Harris was the first member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to announce opposition to the retired Marine general.

Harris' questions about what would happen to people given temporary deportation relief through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were some of the sharpest Kelly faced during his confirmation hearing last week. She pressed Kelly on whether the personal information provided by program participants would be to used identify candidates for deportation.

California is home to an estimated one-third of the 750,000 young people brought to the country illegally as children who applied for the program. They were promised by the Obama administration that if they went through the rigorous background check, they would not be deported.

In the hearing, Harris asked Kelly to honor that promise not to use DACA applications to assist in deportations.

Kelly said convicted criminals and other categories of immigrants in the U.S. illegally might be a higher priority, but he acknowledged he had not had discussions with Trump’s advisors about immigration policy.

“There’s a big spectrum of people who need to be dealt with in terms of deportation,” he said at the hearing. “I would guess that [DACA applicants] might not be the highest priority."

California's members of Congress have pleaded with the Obama administration to keep the participants' personal information from being used by the incoming Trump administration, which has pledged to crack down on immigration as soon as Trump takes office.

“I can’t look these kids in the face and offer them any guarantee that this guy won’t deport them, and without that guarantee I can’t support him,” Harris said Thursday. “For ethical and moral reasons, we have to honor our promise, the promise made by the United States government to these kids.”

Sen. Wyden hammers Mnuchin, saying it's 'a real stretch' he'd work for all Americans as Treasury secretary

 (Bryan R. Smith / AFP/Getty Images)
(Bryan R. Smith / AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Ron Wyden wasted no time ripping into Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Trump's pick for Treasury secretary, at Thursday's confirmation hearing, hitting the Wall Street executive for his financial dealings and the foreclosure practices at the California bank he once owned.

"The Treasury secretary ought to be somebody who works on behalf of all Americans," said Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

"When I look at Mr. Mnuchin's background, it is a real stretch to find hard evidence that he would be that kind of Treasury secretary," he said.

Wyden's  attack on Mnuchin was so aggressive that Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) told him, "I’ve got a Valium pill you might want to take before the second round.”

The comment sparked objections from Wyden and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), demonstrating the deep partisan divide over one of Trump's top Cabinet picks.

Wyden criticized Mnuchin's hedge fund, Dune Capital Management, for "setting up outposts in Anguilla and the Cayman Islands, an action that can be explained only by the islands’ zero percent tax rate."

"In Mr. Mnuchin’s case, millions of dollars in profits from Hollywood exports like the movie 'Avatar' were funneled to an offshore web of entities and investors," Wyden said.

Wyden raised questions about the decision by Pasadena's OneWest Bank, which Mnuchin chaired, "to loan hundreds of millions of dollars" to the Relativity Media movie studio.

And Wyden accused OneWest of pursuing foreclosures so aggressively that it showed "it could put more vulnerable people on the street faster than just about anybody else around."

"Under Mr. Mnuchin, OneWest churned out foreclosures like Chinese factories churned out Trump suits and ties," Wyden said.

Trump Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin expected to be pressed on OneWest foreclosures at confirmation hearing

 (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)
(Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

Steven Mnuchin, the Wall Street executive chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next Treasury secretary, is expected to be pressed by Democrats at his confirmation hearing Thursday about aggressive home foreclosures conducted by OneWest Bank during his time as chairman of the Pasadena institution.

If confirmed, Mnuchin, 54, a hedge fund manager and Hollywood movie producer, would become a pivotal player in the Trump administration on the economy, trade, tax reform, housing policy, financial regulation and relations with China and other global economic powers

Transition

As soon as he is inaugurated, Trump will move to clamp down on immigration

 (Mike Nelson / European Pressphoto Agency)
(Mike Nelson / European Pressphoto Agency)

Aides are clearing the way for President-elect Donald Trump to take the first steps toward transforming the immigration system as soon as he takes office Friday, fulfilling a major campaign pledge while deepening the fears of immigration advocates about what’s to come.

Gone will be the temporary protections of the final Obama administration years for people in the country illegally. In their place, expect to see images on the evening news of workplace raids as Trump sends a message that he is wasting no time on his promised crackdown.

Transition

Donald Trump has barely said a word about America's longest war. Should Afghanistan be worried?

 (Abdul Khaliq / Associated Press)
(Abdul Khaliq / Associated Press)

Donald Trump has minced few words about his plans to  build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and  end the threat from Islamic State extremists.

But the president-elect has been virtually silent on his plans when it comes to Afghanistan, home to America’s longest war.

With 8,400 U.S. troops leading a 13,000-strong NATO mission in Afghanistan, the incoming administration inherits one of the United States’ most stubborn and complex foreign policy challenges. Although President Obama promised to end U.S. military involvement, American service members continue to be drawn into combat as Afghan security forces struggle to contain a resilient Taliban insurgency.

Transition

Trump is said to pick former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead Agriculture Department

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to serve as agriculture secretary, according to a person familiar with the decision but not authorized to speak publicly before it is announced.

Perdue, 70, would be the first Southerner to lead the Agriculture Department in more than two decades. He comes from the small city of Bonaire in rural central Georgia, where he built businesses in grain trading and trucking.

The Agriculture secretary job is the last Cabinet position for which Trump hasn't named a candidate.

Perdue began his political career as a Democrat in the state Legislature in 1991. But it was after switching his allegiance to the Republican Party that Perdue made Georgia history.

In 2002, Perdue was elected the state's first Republican governor since the end of Reconstruction more than 130 years earlier. Perdue's victory over an incumbent Democrat completed Georgia's shift to a solidly Republican state, ending generations of Democratic control of state government.

Under Perdue's watch, Georgia adopted tough new food safety regulations after a deadly U.S. salmonella outbreak was traced to Georgia-made peanut butter. He moved the state office that issues water permits for irrigation and other agricultural uses from Atlanta to rural south Georgia, where it would be closer to farmers. And Perdue poured millions of state dollars into Go Fish, a program that aimed to lure bass fishing tournaments to the state.

The ex-governor, whose full name is George Ervin Perdue III, grew up in central Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia, where he played football as a walk-on and earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine. Following a stint in the Air Force, Perdue returned to Georgia and settled in Bonaire, a city of about 14,000 people.

Perdue already has family serving in Washington. His cousin, former Dollar General Chief Executive David Perdue of Sea Island, Ga., was elected to the Senate in 2014.

EPA pick casts doubt on California's longtime power to set its own clean-air standards

 (Michael Reynolds / EPA)
(Michael Reynolds / EPA)

Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency cast doubt on whether California should continue to have power to impose its own emission rules for cars and trucks, an authority the state has enjoyed for decades that is also the cornerstone of its efforts to fight global warming.

Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt said at a contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday that he cannot commit to keeping in place the current version of a decades-old federal waiver that allows California to set emissions standards stricter than elsewhere in the United States.

In recent years, California regulators have used the waiver to force automakers to build more efficient vehicles, which has helped the state cut its greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks by nearly a third since 2009.

More than a dozen other states have adopted the California standard as part of their own efforts both to clean their air and fight global warming.

Asian American band the Slants takes its trademark battle to the Supreme Court: Is it free speech or a racial slur?

Members of the band the Slants. (Anthony Pidgeon / Associated Press)
Members of the band the Slants. (Anthony Pidgeon / Associated Press)

A trademark dispute involving an Asian American band that calls itself the Slants provoked a lively Supreme Court argument Wednesday over free speech, political correctness and the government’s refusal to sanction what it sees as a racial slur.

The justices struggled over whether the refusal by Congress and the Patent and Trademark Office’s to register trademarks that can be seen as disparaging people or their beliefs violates the 1st Amendment.

On the one hand, several justices said the government cannot discriminate against people solely because it does not like their message.

Justice Elena Kagan said the 1st Amendment has been understood to mean “you can’t discriminate based on a viewpoint.”  The trademark office was saying it would register trademarks for people who say “good things” about Asian Americans, but “not bad things,” she said.

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