* Today President Obama announced his response to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Obama administration announced sweeping new measures on Thursday in retaliation for what U.S. officials characterized as Russian interference in this fall’s presidential election, ordering the removal of 35 Russian government officials and sanctioning state agencies and individuals tied to the hacks…
The new measures include sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies, three companies that are believed to have provided support for government cyber operations, and four Russian cyber officials. The administration will also shut down Russian-owned facilities in Maryland and New York that Obama said where used for intelligence activities and would declare 35 Russian operatives “persona non grata,” meaning they would be required to leave the United States.
* You can read the President’s statement here. In addition to noting the above, it ended with this:
These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized.
* As part of the announcement, this was also released today:
A joint report from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Russian “malicious cyber activity” was declassified and released on Thursday, just after the Obama administration announced sanctions against individuals and entities associated with Russian intelligence that it believes were involved in election-related hacking.
* Enjoy ringing in the new year this weekend because starting next week, the battle for health care begins. It looks like there is still some disarray among Republicans on the plans for Obamacare repeal and delay.
Republicans are debating how long to delay implementing the repeal. Aides involved in the deliberations said some parts of the law may be ended quickly, such as its regulations affecting insurer health plans and businesses. Other pieces may be maintained for up to three or four years, such as insurance subsidies and the Medicaid expansion. Some parts of the law may never be repealed, such as the provision letting people under age 26 remain on a parent’s plan.
House conservatives want a two-year fuse for the repeal. Republican leaders prefer at least three years, and there has been discussion of putting it off until after the 2020 elections, staffers said.
* Democrats are organizing a day of action on January 15th – “Our First Stand: Save Health Care.”
Leading House and Senate Democrats are calling for a national “day of action” ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration, pledging to make that Sunday the Democrats’ “first stand” in what’s shaping up to be a bruising legislative battle over health care programs in 2017.
In a letter circulated to their colleagues, incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and liberal firebrand Bernie Sanders predicted that the GOP will repeal Obamacare and begin to gut Medicare and Medicaid benefits as soon as Congress reconvenes in January. They asked Democratic lawmakers to organize rallies in protest to create a national message in opposition.
* Michael Shear reports that Trump is weighing plans to privatize Veterans Affairs. The one bright spot is that no one involved seems to have the vaguest idea of what they are doing.
Mr. Trump met with several executives of private hospital systems at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Wednesday. After the meeting, Mr. Trump called out to reporters, saying he wanted to describe his ideas for changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs, but then quickly directed one of his senior aides to describe the proposals under consideration.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, provided no details about how the plans would work, how much they would cost, or the possibility of unintended consequences from privatizing part of the V.A.’s sprawling medical system…
“Some vets love the V.A.,” the official said, and “some vets want to go to the V.A.” The official added that “the idea is to come up with a solution that solves the problem.”
Ahhh…a solution that solves the problem. That sounds great, huh?
* Finally, the White House is running a series at Medium titled, “In Review: The Obama Presidency.” So far they have covered President Obama’s top speeches, his top moments in the digital era, favorite White House videos and the most memorable “we the people” petitions. Today’s entry featured Michelle Obama’s top 10 “Let’s Move” moments. That gives me an excuse to post this video that captures the absolute coolest First Lady ever.