Quick Takes: Trump Dials It Back a Bit After Intelligence Briefing

* Prior to his briefing with intelligence officials today, Trump said that the focus on Russian interference in the election was a “political witch hunt.” Afterwards, the statement that was released by his team toned things down just a bit. But the focus was telling.

While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines. There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful.

They once again deflected from a focus on what Russia did. But the main point they wanted to get across is that, regardless of who did the hacking, it didn’t have any affect on the outcome of the election. I somehow doubt that was included in the intelligence briefing. But that’s all Trump cares about.

* The intelligence community provided a declassified report on Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. elections today. Here are the key judgements:

Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.

We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”

We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.

* The final jobs report of the Obama years was released today. Here is Jared Bernstein’s summary:

Payrolls rose 156,000 last month and the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.7, as the US job market continues to post solid and steady gains. Over 2016, average hourly wage growth is up 2.9 percent, the fastest yearly gain thus far in the recovery that began in 2009. Coupled with low inflation, this means the job market is delivering real gains to paychecks.

In terms of the overall performance of the last eight years, this chart says it all:

* Immediately after the election, it became clear that China will position themselves as the global leader on trade. It looks like they also might become the global leader on investment in renewable energy.

China will plow 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country’s energy agency said on Thursday, as the world’s largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels.

The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation’s energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.

The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power will contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

* The world of journalism is still trying to figure out how to report on a president-elect who seems poised to use twitter as a major vehicle of communication. One of the latest developments along those lines is that Michelle Ye Hee Lee has announced a regular Friday column to address “What Trump got wrong on Twitter this week.”

We will continue to devote full fact checks of claims Trump makes on Twitter when the fact check allows for discussion of a substantive policy issue. But as for the rest, we will include them in a roundup on Fridays. We will keep the analysis of each tweet as short as possible, with links to additional information for readers who want to know more.

* Today Michelle Obama gave her last public speech as FLOTUS. It shouldn’t surprise you that her remarks were aimed at young people. Over these last eight years we have been blessed to have an articulate, intelligent, compassionate, strong woman with amazing integrity as our First Lady.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.