TRUMP DENIES RUMORS HE PLANS TO FIRE MUELLER, BUT STILL ANGRY OVER E-MAIL ACQUISITION: President Donald Trump says he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, but that didn't stop him from adding to the growing conservative criticism of Mueller's acquisition of thousands of emails sent and received by Trump officials before the start of his administration. While conservatives have been critical of Mueller's probe of Russian activities during the 2016 campaign, Trump said Sunday afternoon that he has no plans to fire Mueller. The president did criticize the fact that Mueller had gained access the emails, however. Trump said it was "not looking good" and again stressed that there was "no collusion" with Russia — an important question the probe is examining. The documents were provided to Mueller's team by the GSA in September in response to requests from the FBI, but the transition team didn't learn about it until last week, Langhofer said.
TRUMP'S "AMERICA FIRST" DOCTRINE COULD BE A FOREIGN POLICY TRAINWRECK: Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States' foreign policy since the Cold War. Trump's doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that "America First" does not mean "America Alone," the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS PUSHING INCREASE IN DEFENSE SPENDING ALONG WITH TAX CUT: There’s a partial government shutdown looming if Congress doesn’t pass spending legislation by Friday. That doesn’t leave a lot of time, especially with Republicans also determined to deliver tax cuts to President Donald Trump’s desk by Christmas. The House plan would boost defense spending and fully fund the Pentagon until Sept. 30, 2018, a “top priority especially in these uncertain times of instability around the globe,” said House Appropriations chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. The move is popular with House defense hawks, but Democrats say it all but ignores the need to boost domestic spending. In a letter to Republican congressional leaders, 44 Senate Democrats vowed to oppose a spending plan that increases military spending but not domestic spending. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., derided the plan as a “sop to some militant, hard right people who don’t want the government to spend money on almost anything. And it is a perilous waste of time as the clock ticks closer and closer and closer to the end of the year.”
POWER OUTAGE AT ATLANTA AIRPORT DEVASTATING, STRANDING THOUSANDS OF PASSENGERS: While power has been restored to the world’s busiest airport, the travel woes will linger for days. Thousands of people were stranded Monday morning at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where more than 1,000 flights were grounded just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush. A sudden power outage that Georgia Power said was caused by a fire in an underground electrical facility brought the airport to a standstill Sunday about 1 p.m. Passenger James Beatty said there was no real method for evacuation. “I mean there was 40 or 50 people per the terminal area that were confined to wheelchairs and some that couldn’t get through the airport very well, some of them actually couldn’t walk and there was no plan at all to get them out of here without any power.” Beatty said passengers carried those who used wheelchairs down stairs.
NC VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MADE VULNERABLE BY GUN OWNERSHIP LOOPHOLE: North Carolina may be the only state in the nation where a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction doesn't trigger a lifetime federal ban on owning a gun. The reason: A local case that went before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015, brought by a man now sitting in prison for sex crimes. His attorneys convinced the court there was enough difference between North Carolina's definition of assault and the one in federal law to throw out a federal gun charge. It's unclear how many people have stepped through the loophole the ruling created, but spokespeople at a number of sheriff's offices said the loophole is a problem. So did Amber Lueken Barwick, who does domestic violence law training for state prosecutors through the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. "I think fewer people are protected," Lueken Barwick said. "It's a big problem."