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ABC News(NEW YORK) --  Donald Trump took to Twitter early Sunday morning to express his displeasure with Alec Baldwin's portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live -- and Baldwin didn't keep quiet.

"Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad," tweeted the president-elect shortly after midnight.

Baldwin shot back about 15 minutes later, tweeting, "Release your tax returns and I'll stop. Ha."

...@realDonaldTrump

Release your tax returns and I'll stop.
Ha

— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) December 4, 2016

Last night's episode, which featured "SNL" cast member Kate McKinnon as Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, poked fun at Trump's use of Twitter, his campaign promises and vanity.

The cold open began with a high school student in a classroom sharing that Trump retweeted him -- in reality, Trump did retweet a 16-year-old named Seth who slammed CNN's coverage of Trump.

*retweets* #SNL pic.twitter.com/SmNcJ09mWa

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) December 4, 2016

"Seth seems so cool," gushes Baldwin's Trump in his office. "His Twitter bio says he wants to make America great again. It also says he loves the Anaheim Ducks."

McKinnon's Conway says Trump tweets so much "to distract the media from his business conflicts and all the very scary people in his cabinet."

Baldwin’s Trump responds, "Actually that's not why I do it. I do it because my brain is bad."

Then, taking a jab at Trump's campaign promises, the fictitious Trump says, "And next I'm going to do what I promised my whole campaign ... I am going to build that swamp."

McKinnon's belwildered Conway asks, "Don't you mean drain the swamp and build the wall?"

Responds Baldwin's Trump: "No, that's too many things. Just smush them together. Smush!"

Trump senior counselor Stephen Bannon was also ridiculed during the cold open.

Can’t start the meeting without Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon. #SNL pic.twitter.com/R5NVUyBu1C

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) December 4, 2016

"Where is my chief strategist Steve Bannon? I can't start without Steve Bannon," says Baldwin's Trump.

Who walks in? An actor in a grim reaper costume.

And in a nod to Trump's vanity, something appears to grab the attention of Baldwin's Trump off-camera, and he asks McKinnon's Conway, "Wait is that the picture of me I hate, the one the press is using where I look so ugly?"

Says McKinnon's dumbfounded Conway: "No, that's just a plate of mashed potatoes."

"Wait a minute... is that the picture of me that I hate?" #SNL pic.twitter.com/0H3KUZlbUa

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) December 4, 2016

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President-elect Donald Trump’s call with the president of Taiwan on Friday triggered a formal protest by China and sent shock waves through at least parts of the U.S. diplomatic establishment. But the move was welcomed by many Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a former rival of Trump's for the GOP presidential nomination, showed his support on Twitter for the president-elect's phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen, calling it an “improvement.”

Similarly, Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific affairs, said he looks forward to working with the president-elect to find ways to "strengthen our relationship with our ally and friend, Taiwan.”

“The friendship between our two countries is important, and I am glad to hear the president-elect is committed to that friendship," Gardner said in a statement.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican, also issued a statement of approval.

"I commend President-elect Trump for his conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen, which reaffirms our commitment to the only democracy on Chinese soil,” Cotton said. “I have met with President Tsai twice and I'm confident she expressed to the president-elect the same desire for closer relations with the United States."

Taiwan has held that it is an independent nation since it split from the Chinese mainland in a 1949 civil war.

But the U.S. has maintained a "one China" policy since establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, meaning that it has not recognized Taiwan as its own country, but rather as a part of China. Since then, there have been no publicly reported phone calls between a U.S. president or president-elect and a Taiwanese leader.

The U.S. does have a "robust unofficial relationship" with Taiwan and commits to defending it in the event of a Chinese attack, according to the Department of State's website.

The White House did not know about the call until after it took place.

And since news of the call broke, some Capitol Hill Democrats have expressed bewilderment at Trump’s sudden departure from years of established policy.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said on Twitter that it is Trump’s right to shift policy and strategy. But he suggested the phone call is not just a shift but a "major" change and warned that "major pivots in foreign policy [without] any plan" are "how wars start."

 

(1) Foreign policy consistency is a means, not an end. It's not sacred. Thus, it's Trump's right to shift policy, alliances, strategy.

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 2, 2016

 

 

(2) What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That's how wars start.

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 2, 2016

 

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz took to Twitter to appeal for clarification and to call for a “steady hand” from Trump’s yet-to-be-named secretary of state.

 

1 - The world needs clarity on this Taiwan phone call. 2 - We really need a steady hand at State Department. Tomorrow would be perfect.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) December 2, 2016

 

China meanwhile has lodged a formal diplomatic protest, what a spokesman called "solemn representations" to the U.S., over Trump's phone call.

"There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing. “The government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing China. This is a fact that is generally recognized by the international community."

He said China urged the relevant parties in the United States to handle Taiwan-related issues "cautiously and properly" to avoid "unnecessary interference" in the China-U.S. relationship. He did not describe details of China's complaint to the U.S., or say with whom it was lodged.

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John Moore/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Nearly a month after the GOP won the presidential election, Vice President-elect Mike Pence is back on the campaign trail helping Republicans try to increase its U.S. Senate majority.

The Indiana governor appeared in New Orleans on Saturday with Republican Senate candidate John Kennedy to urge GOP voters to turn out for the last day of early voting prior to Louisiana's Dec. 10 runoff between Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell.

“I'm really here to say thank you," Pence said. "But I'm also here to ask you for your help one more time,” he told the crowd assembled in a hangar at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

“By electing John Kennedy as your next senator, you're going to put an exclamation point at the end of a great American victory in 2016,” Pence said.

Pence, who is also leading President-elect Trump’s transition work, is expected to play a major role in the incoming administration’s outreach to Congress.

He met with the two GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on Tuesday for ongoing discussions about their agenda for next year, including plans to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“John Kennedy and [Louisiana Sen.] Bill Cassidy are going to help Donald Trump drain the swamp,” Pence said to the crowd in New Orleans Saturday, while also mentioning the need to support Trump’s future pick for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court.

Kennedy, the Louisiana state treasurer, is hoping to ride Trump’s coattails to Washington after the runoff election that was scheduled when no candidate for Senate won at least 50 percent of the vote in the November balloting.

In a campaign ad by Kennedy in mid-November, he said, “I supported our new president from day one ... We don’t have time for political correctness anymore. The swamp in DC needs to be drained.”

For Democrats, a win in Louisiana could add another layer to the anti-Trump firewall in the Senate next year, when Republicans, who will have at least 51 senators, will need Democratic votes to pass major legislation.

It’s also an opportunity for a late victory for the Democratic Party after it underperformed in the Nov. 8 election by losing the presidential race, failing to take back the Senate and winning only six GOP-held House seats. The party had been projected to flip the upper chamber and win as many as 20 House seats.

Campbell, the Democratic candidate and a member of the Louisiana State Public Service Commission, outdid Kennedy in fundraising in the finals weeks of the campaign, raking in $2.5 million compared to Kennedy’s $1.6 million. Both candidates had roughly $1.4 million cash on hand as of late November.

Still, Kennedy is favored over Campbell. Trump won Louisiana by 20 points in November, when Kennedy secured 25 percent of the vote to Campbell’s 17.5 percent. About 50 percent of Louisiana voters picked a Republican Senate candidate from the more the 20 candidates on the ballot last month.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has spent $500,000 to help Kennedy, and is putting up at least $72,000 in radio ads in the final week before the runoff.

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Michael Davidson for Hillary for America(WASHINGTON) -- While First Lady Michelle Obama and the president have repeatedly shot down the notion that the first lady would ever consider running for political office -- let alone the presidency -- that hasn't stopped political committees from filing with the Federal Elections Commission to support a potential candidacy.

One of the groups, Ready for Michelle PAC, filed with the elections commission on Oct. 31 and says on its website that its goal is to "get the ball rolling by identifying a network of supporters, volunteers, and donors" to support the first lady should she seek public office. Donald Garrett, who leads the group, told ABC News that the group has currently collected about 1,000 signatures though an online petition, in addition to just under $1000.

The only catch, as the group itself acknowledges, is that the first lady would have to be convinced to run.

"If she can be convinced to run, we can provide her with an early advantage against any opponents," the website says.

But that could be a tall order.

As recently as the day after Election Day, President Obama ruled out the possibility that his wife would ever enter the political arena.

"Michelle will never run for office," President Obama told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview Nov. 9. "You can see the incredible resonance she has with the American people. But I joke that she's too sensible to want to be in politics.”

The name of the group, Ready for Michelle, harks back to the early calls for Hillary Clinton to seek the presidency. The super PAC Ready for Hillary formed shortly after Clinton stepped down as secretary of state.

Two other groups, Ready for Michelle 2020 and Friends of Michelle 2020, have also filed with the elections commission within the last month.

"Let’s put an Obama back in the White House in 2020," says the Ready for Michelle 2020 website.

The web address listed on Friends of Michelle 2020’s FEC filing isn’t currently operable.

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Official White House by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama discussed the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill in Congress that could help find treatments and cures for diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer and opiod addiction.

The president called on the Senate to pass the bill as the House did.

Read the full president's address:

Hi, everybody. On the first day of my administration, I promised to restore science to its rightful place. I told you we would unleash American innovation and technology to tackle the health challenges of our time. Over the last eight years, we’ve delivered on that promise in many ways, both big and small -- including, of course, providing health coverage to 20 million more Americans, and making health care more affordable for all Americans.

Right now we have the chance to put our best minds to work one more time -- and in a big way. There’s a bill in Congress that could help unlock cures Alzheimer’s, end cancer as we know it, and help people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need. It’s called the 21st Century Cures Act. It’s an opportunity to save lives, and an opportunity we just can’t miss.

This bill would do a lot of good things at once.  Let me tell you about five of them:

First, it will make real investments this year to combat the heroin and prescription drug epidemic that’s plaguing so many of our communities. Drug overdoses now take more lives every year than traffic accidents, and deaths from opioid overdoses have nearly quadrupled since 1999. Under Obamacare, health plans in the Marketplace have to include coverage for treatment, but there’s more we need to do. For nearly a year, I’ve been calling for this investment so hundreds of thousands of Americans can get the treatment they need, and I’m glad Congress is finally getting it done.

The second thing the Cures Act does is make a significant investment in Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot. In my State of the Union Address this year, I set a goal of making America the country that ends cancer once and for all -- and I put the Vice President in charge of Mission Control. This bill will allow us to invest in promising new therapies, in new ways to detect and prevent cancer, and to develop more vaccines for cancer just as we have them for measles or mumps. Joe’s done an incredible job -- this bill is a chance for Congress to do its part, too.

Third, we’ll be giving researchers the resources they need to help identify ways to treat, cure, and prevent all kinds of brain disorders. Alzheimer’s. Epilepsy. Traumatic Brain Injury. And it also supports the Precision Medicine Initiative, an effort we started to bring doctors and data together to develop treatments and health care that one day can be tailored specifically to you. That can lead to some big breakthroughs.

Fourth, the Cures Act includes bipartisan mental health reforms, including important programs for suicide prevention.

And fifth, we’re making sure the FDA incorporates patients’ voices -- your voices -- into the decisions they make as they develop drugs.

So that’s what the 21st Century Cures Act is all about. Like all good legislation, it reflects compromise. This week, the House passed it overwhelmingly, and in bipartisan fashion. The Senate will vote in the next few days, and I hope they’ll do the same. I’ll sign it as soon as it reaches my desk, because like a lot of you, I’ve lost people I love to cancer. I hear every day from Americans whose loved ones are suffering from addiction and other debilitating diseases. And I believe we should seize every chance we have to find cures as soon as possible. When it’s your family, hope can’t come soon enough.

Thanks, everybody, and have a great weekend.


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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's GOP response, Sen. John Barrasso M.D. (R-Wyoming) discussed plans for the Republican-lead Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:


Hi, I’m Doctor John Barrasso, United States Senator for Wyoming.
 
In small towns and big cities across America, families have spent the past several years struggling under the health care law known as Obamacare.
 
Last month, Americans demanded accountability – and they voted for change. They were tired of living under a costly and complicated health care law that broke one promise after another. In a Gallup poll just this week, 8 out of every 10 Americans favored changing the health care law significantly or replacing it altogether.
 
The result of the election gives all of us the opportunity to take back control of our health care. Americans can look forward to getting the care that they need, from a doctor they choose at lower cost.
 
That means health insurance that meets your family’s needs – not what Washington demands that you have. Health care that lets patients and doctors decide what’s best for a family’s health, not government bureaucrats. And health insurance you can afford – because honest competition lowers prices better than government regulations ever can.
 
No amount of tinkering or taxpayer bailouts is going to make Obamacare work. It needs to be replaced and repealed. Repeal is only the first step – it clears the path for a replacement that costs less and works better than what we have now.
 
The mandate that people must buy government-approved insurance will be eliminated. More than 20 Obamacare taxes will be repealed. People will have more freedom and flexibility to make their own decisions about their health care. Americans will be able to use Health Savings Accounts for the care that they believe is best for them and their families. It will be easier to buy insurance across state lines.
 
And people with pre-existing conditions will be protected. My wife, Bobbi, is a breast cancer survivor, so I understand as a doctor and as a husband how critical it is that people with pre-existing conditions not lose their insurance.
 
As a doctor who also served as a Wyoming state legislator, I know that one size does not fit all. States are much better than Washington, D.C. at knowing what works best for their people. That’s why states will get back the power to run their own Medicaid programs.
 
Over the years since Obamacare was passed, we’ve heard from people every day about how the law has hurt them personally. We’re listening, and we’re keeping our promise. When someone in your family is sick, you should only have to worry about their health – not about health insurance. If we work together, there is a better way.
 
Now, many Democrats in Congress have already shown that they will refuse to help us find that way. They’ve sworn to defend Obamacare, no matter what it costs you. I hope they’ll reconsider, and work with us for better health care for all Americans.
 
We’re going to do everything we can to reverse the damage done by Obamacare, and do it as smoothly as possible. It won’t be easy, and it’s going to take some time. But step by step, we’re going to put patients back in charge, bring down the cost for families, and make sure that having health insurance actually means something this time.
 
Thanks for listening.


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iStock/Thinkstock(LANSING, Mich.) -- After a brief halt, the vote recount in Michigan will continue next week despite the efforts of Donald Trump's representatives to prevent it, officials announced Friday.

"The State Board of Canvassers today did not accept an objection from representatives of Donald J. Trump regarding the presidential election recount that was requested by Green Party nominee Jill Stein," a statement released Friday by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's office read.

Recount activity in Michigan was halted on Thursday when the state's election board "received an objection from representatives of Donald J. Trump," the Michigan Secretary of State's office said Thursday.

According to the secretary of state's office, the recount will resume next Wednesday. According to MLive, the board voted 2-2 in a meeting Friday morning and because a majority was not reached, the recount can continue as planned.

On Monday, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified Trump as the winner of presidential election in Michigan. The Great Lake State was the last to be called in the election.

Stein has raised millions to request vote recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as well, and she has already paid for a recount in Wisconsin, which is currently underway.

If there is excess money from their fundraising, Stein's team said the campaign will consult with the Federal Election Commission guidelines on how best to proceed.

In a statement released Wednesday, Johnson said that recount efforts could cost Michigan taxpayers millions.

“It is unusual that a candidate who received just 1 percent of the vote is seeking a recount, especially when there is no evidence of hacking or fraud, or even a credible allegation of any tampering," the statement read. “The cost of this recount to Michigan taxpayers could easily reach into the millions of dollars. Based on Wisconsin’s estimate, Michigan taxpayers could be paying $4 million despite the $1 million the Green Party nominee must pay to have the recount."

The statement continued: “Nevertheless, county clerks have been gearing up to complete this recount under a very challenging deadline. They’ll be working nights and weekends. I know they will do a great job because we have some of the best clerks in the country here in Michigan.”

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While Donald Trump's cabinet selection process is far from finished -- there are still eight spots that have not been announced -- nearly all of the picks that have been announced are wealthy individuals, in addition to himself.

By comparison, when then-President George W. Bush assembled his cabinet of millionaires after the 2000 election, media outlets called it the wealthiest cabinet in history, as The Washington Post pointed out.

But that pales in comparison to the wealth that will be represented in Trump's cabinet.

The Telegraph reported that Bill Clinton had seven multi-millionaires in his first cabinet as did Ronald Reagan; and George H.W. Bush had six multi-millionaires. In the case of George W. Bush, 13 of his 16 cabinet members were worth at least $1 million in 2001, the paper reported.

ABC News could not independently verify the net worth of any of Trump’s cabinet picks, but the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans and some public records offer a sense of their wealth.

At least one member of Trump's administration is on the Forbes 400 list. Wilbur Ross, his pick for commerce secretary, is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, according to Forbes, and ranks No. 232 on its list.

Two of Trump's picks for top-level positions come from extraordinarily wealthy families. Todd Ricketts, who is the son of the founder of TD Ameritrade, was tapped to be Trump's deputy secretary of commerce. His family is worth an estimated $5.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Betsy DeVos was named as Trump's pick for education secretary and her father-in-law is the co-founder of multi-level marketing company Amway. The DeVos family is worth an estimated $5.1 billion, according to Forbes.

Three of Trump's picks for cabinet positions -- subject to Senate confirmation -- have had to detail their financial standings because they're in public office or are married to someone who is: Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who was announced as Trump's pick for secretary of health and human services, Elaine Chao, Trump's pick for secretary of transportation, who is married to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Trump's pick for attorney general.

Federal financial disclosure forms allow the signers to identify income in ranges. The nonprofit and nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimates public officials' wealth based on their financial disclosure forms, providing the most accurate publicly available estimates of their income.

Price had a net worth estimate of $13.6 million in 2014, which was the most recent data available, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That figure ranks him as the 44th wealthiest member of the House of Representatives on the Center for Responsive Politics list.

McConnell, whose disclosure forms jointly list both his and his wife's incomes and investments, had an estimated net worth of nearly $22.2 million in 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

McConnell's 2015 disclosure form identifies certain income his wife received during that year, including a $50,000 payment for a speech she made for the Alliance for Public Awareness in Paris and a $25,000 payment for a speech to the Real Estate Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

Sessions, who is in his fourth term as a senator from Alabama, had an estimated net worth of $7.5 million in 2014 and was the 24th wealthiest member of the Senate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

ABC News could not independently verify the net worth of Steve Mnuchin, Trump's pick for treasury secretary, who worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years before going on to found his own investment firm, Dune Capital.

Mnuchin led a group of investors who bought the failed IndyMac bank, rebranding it as OneWest Bank and eventually selling it last year, to CIT group for approximately $3.4 billion.

The only member of Trump's cabinet whose wealth is completely unknown is Gen. James Mattis, who served in the military for 41 years and retired in 2013. His net worth could not be independently verified by ABC News and he has never had to publicly release financial disclosure forms.

As Trump continues to round out his cabinet, another multi-millionaire could be added to the list.

Mitt Romney is believed to be one of the contenders for secretary of state. During his failed presidential bid in 2012, Romney's campaign reportedly said that his net worth was around $250 million and Forbes estimated that it was closer to $230 million that same year.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President-elect Donald Trump's pick of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to be the next defense secretary will require a congressional waiver for him to assume the post, because he has not been retired from military service for more than seven years.

The pick has called attention to the requirement set in the National Security Act of 1947 that the head of the Defense Department must be a civilian. Any nominee with prior military experience must have been retired from active duty for seven years. Mattis retired from the Marine Corps three years ago.

The concept of civilian control of the U.S. military required by the law is one that dates to the nation's earliest days, and reflects the balance of powers outlined in the Constitution.

Here's a look at how civilian control of the military has become a trademark of American national security:

It Is in the Constitution

The concept of civilian control of the military was written by the Founding Fathers into the Constitution emerging from the colonial reality of citizen-soldiers.

Reflecting the balance of power established by the Constitution, the president was made commander in chief of the military, and Congress was given the authority to declare war and fund the military.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states, "The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual Service of the United States."

The roles of Congress outlined in Article I, Section 8 include, "To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy."

When Was Civilian Control Required?

With the president as commander in chief, the day-to-day management of the nation's military was left to the secretary of war. With very few exceptions, civilians held the post of secretary of war, reflecting the constitutional authority given to the executive branch of government over the military.

But it was the National Security Act of 1947 that replaced the War Department with the Defense Department that also made it a requirement that only civilians could lead the department. That legislation also created the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force, which, through additional legislation, also became civilian-only positions.

Seventeen of the 24 men who have served as defense secretary have had some kind of military service. Since most of their service years occurred during their youth, the seven-year gap requirement between military and civilian life did not come into play.

Only George Marshall's nomination in 1950 has required a congressional waiver similar to the one that Mattis will require to become defense secretary.

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Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President-elect Donald Trump's glittering new hotel in the nation's capital was opened with much fanfare this fall.

But now the real estate mogul may find himself in the position of becoming both landlord and tenant for the historic property, presenting what could be a unique ethical dilemma for the future president.

Background


The Trump International Hotel was constructed inside the landmark Old Post Office in Washington, D.C. In 2013, the General Services Administration (GSA), a federal agency, awarded Trump Hotels the right to lease the property for 60 years at a cost of $3 million each year. Trump spent $200 million renovating the 117-year-old structure, located at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. Once Trump is sworn into office, he would effectively become both his own landlord and tenant because he will oversee the GSA.

But the terms of the agreement effectively forbid Trump from being a party in the lease, stating that “no ... elected official of the Government of the United States ... shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”

So what happens next?


Although Trump tweeted on Nov. 30 that he "will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country," he has yet to announce the specific plans.

When The New York Times asked Trump last month about potential conflicts of interest and ethics laws, he responded, “The law’s totally on my side. The president can’t have a conflict of interest."

As president, Trump has the power to pick the next head of the GSA. Once that individual is confirmed by the Senate, he or she could, in theory, rewrite the terms of the lease to remove the clause forbidding an elected official from being a party in the lease.

"Trump and the GSA could collude to remove the contractual prohibition or make it so he is not breaching the contract," according to Steven Schooner, a government procurement law expert who teaches at George Washington University. "However, removing that clause in no way removes any of the fundamental underlying problems. It in no way removes the conflicts of interest of the federal contracting system."

Even if Trump's children were to take over complete management of the family business, Schooner said the GSA could ultimately be choosing between the interests of taxpayers and those of the first family, who Schooner says would have the ability to renegotiate the lease every year with the GSA.

"Will the GSA employee who is managing the contract, and renegotiating the contract, is that individual going to act in the public's best interest or act to please the president, the president's children, or their boss who serves at the pleasure of the president?" Schooner asked rhetorically.

And while the terms of the lease do allow for the GSA to pull out under certain conditions, the agency at this point is continuing to hold up the terms of the lease and is deferring ethics questions to the Office of Government Ethics.

"It is the Office of Government Ethics that provides guidance to the executive branch on questions of ethics and conflicts of interest. GSA plans to coordinate with the president-elect’s team to address any issues that may be related to the Old Post Office building,” a GSA spokesperson told ABC News.

How could Trump resolve the situation?

Even if Trump fully transfers the management of his business interests to his children, as he has indicated (he has also discussed the possibility of a blind trust), ethics experts tell ABC News that move does not adequately solve the conflicts of interest presented.

“Handing off management of the assets does nothing to minimize the conflict of interest that he has because he has a financial interest as the holder of the lease and then has indirectly an official role to play as the head of the U.S. government,” said Kathleen Clark, who serves on the DC Bar Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee.

Beyond the hotel lease, attorney and former Republican Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter says an arrangement whereby Trump transfers control of his business to his children could spell trouble for the future president.

“The proposal he has made ... is an alternative that no ethics lawyer would suggest,” said Potter. “It’s a recipe for disaster for him and for his administration.”

Alternatively, ethics experts suggest Trump should do what every president before him over the last 38 years has voluntarily done: liquidate his assets or put together blind trusts, administered by an independent person or body, to prevent even the appearance of impropriety. While Trump has said that "legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations," it is not yet clear if those documents will rise to the level of liquidation or a blind trust.

“If president-elect Trump actually wants to put the interests of the public ahead of his private interests, there’s a way for him to do that, and it’s to divest himself of those private interests which will cause a conflict,” said Clark.

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Philadelphia Police(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Philadelphia city attorney is in hot water after he was caught on camera involved in an anti-Trump graffiti incident.

Surveillance video from the early morning hours of Nov. 25 shows two men approaching a Fresh Market in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood before one of the men spray-paints an exterior wall. The second man can be seen standing by, with what appears to be a glass of wine in hand, as the first man works. Once he's done, the second man steps back and appears to take photos or videos of the first man's handiwork.

The second man has been identified by First Deputy City Solicitor Craig Straw as Duncan Lloyd, an assistant city solicitor in the law department. Straw said that Lloyd is cooperating with police in the ongoing investigation and that a "course of action" would be determined when more information is available.

"We do not condone this type of behavior from our employees," Straw said in a statement to ABC News.

The other man in the video has not been identified.

Video released by police shows the vandalized wall, which reads "F--- Trump" in black spray paint. Police estimated the damage to cost between $3,000 and $10,000 due to the composition of the stone facade on the wall.

Joe DeFelice, the chairman of the Philadelphia Republican Party, called on city officials to fire Lloyd "immediately" in a statement posted on the party's website titled, "Wine-Swilling, Blazer-Clad, Anti-Trump City Attorney: An Image of Bourgeois America, Enraged."

"The assistant city solicitor in question had ostensibly taken the law into his own hands, since a democratic election didn’t yield his preferred outcome," DeFelice said. "... Did the extra glass of Shiraz give him some sort of delusional confidence that there are no cameras on Germantown Ave? The taxpayers should be entrusting exactly none of our faith into this man. He should be fired from our city’s law department immediately.”

On Thursday, the city's mayor, Jim Kenney, called Lloyd's involvement in the incident a "dumb mistake," according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"It's certainly hateful and inappropriate and unacceptable ... but people are human beings and they make mistakes and it's a dumb mistake," Kenney said. "It's hateful graffiti, hateful graffiti is never acceptable whether it's a city employee or not."

Lloyd has been employed with the City of Philadelphia since 2011, according to his LinkedIn page. He did not immediately return ABC News' request for comment.

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ABC News(NEW WORK) -- Donald Trump has enlisted a number of top business leaders for an advisory committee in order to help "bring back jobs and Make America Great Again," according to a statement from his transition team.

The group, called the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, will be headed up by Blackstone co-founder Stephen Schwarzman and includes the CEOs of well-known companies.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Wal-Mart Stores CEO Doug McMillon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger are among the members of "The Forum."

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Former CEOs like Jack Welch, who was the head of General Electric, Jim McNerney, the former CEO of Boeing, and Paul Atkins, who was the former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, are also on the list of 16 members.

"This forum brings together CEOs and business leaders who know what it takes to create jobs and drive economic growth," Trump said in the statement announcing the group.

"My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America," he said.

The group will reportedly meet with Trump "frequently" and the first meeting is slated for the first week of February in the White House.

Here is the full list of people on the advisory committee:

  • Stephen A. Schwarzman (Forum Chairman), Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone
  • Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors
  • Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic
  • Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co
  • Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock
  • Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company
  • Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group
  • Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  • Jim McNerney, Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing
  • Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners
  • Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM
  • Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY
  • Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric
  • Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The presidential election was called for Donald Trump nearly three weeks ago, but that has not stopped a potential recount of three important swing states that experts say will likely not change the outcome of the election.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has paid for a recount in Wisconsin and submitted a statewide recount request in Michigan, though that effort has been halted following an objection from Trump. Stein also hopes to trigger a smaller scale recount in Pennsylvania.

Hillary Clinton's team said it will join the recount effort, which President-elect Trump has called "sad."

Here's what you need to know about the various recounts:

What is happening in Wisconsin?

Stein and Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, who ran as part of the American Delta Party, filed petitions on Nov. 25 in Wisconsin to hold a recount in that state.

Stein sent a wire transfer of $3,499,689 to Wisconsin elections officials for the recount.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission confirmed that it had received that amount from Stein on Nov. 29. Officials said the total cost may be closer to $3,898,340 after discovering an error in their original calculations.

The state's recount started Dec. 1.

Why are they asking for a recount?


According to Stein's statement announcing the recount filing, "the three states were recommended for scrutiny by election integrity experts and advocates because of the vulnerability of their voting systems and various indicators of concern - including unexplained high numbers of undervotes."

Stein's campaign manager David Cobb said in the statement that "the recount was not filed in order to change the election outcome, which is unlikely, nor to favor any one candidate. We are pursuing this recount to verify the integrity of the election result."

Will the outcome of the election change because of the recount?


It's impossible to say for certain, but no one involved in the recount efforts so far has said that Trump's presidential rival Clinton could emerge victorious.

"I fully expect, given the history of how elections are conducted in Wisconsin ... that the outcome is not going to be different" than the current unofficial results, Mark Thomsen, chair of Wisconsin's elections commission, said at a news conference on Nov. 28.

Trump's lead over Clinton in Wisconsin

Trump’s win in Wisconsin was one of a series of surprises on election night; the Badger state had not voted for a Republican president since the 1984 election.

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, there were a total of 2,975,313 votes cast in the state, and Trump beat Clinton by more than 27,000.

Stein had 31,006 votes in the state; De La Fuente earned 1,514.

When will we have answers?

The recount started Dec. 1 and needs to be completed by Dec. 13, which officials have already warned may be a tight turnaround.

“It will be a significant challenge to complete a statewide recount of nearly 3 million votes in less than two weeks,” the elections commission memo read.

The recount is going to be done by both hand and machines, depending on the county. The commission denied Stein's request for the entire recount to be done by hand because it does not have the authority to give such an order, Reid Magney, the commission's public information officer, told ABC News.

Forty-eight of the state's 72 counties will be completing the recount by hand, while 14 counties plan to use optical scanners and 10 counties plan to use a combination of optical scanners and hand counts, though those numbers may change, Magney said.

County clerks in each of the counties will send a summary email to the commission either at the end of each night or early the next morning during the recount, and the commission will post a spreadsheet with ward-level data on the recount daily, Magney said.

Who is paying for this?

More than $6 million has been raised for the legal and recount costs, according to Stein's official fundraising recount site. The money will go toward funding recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

According to a member of Stein's press team on Monday, that money came from more than 137,000 donors and the average donation has been $45.

If there are any excess funds, Stein's press team said the campaign will consult with the Federal Election Commission guidelines on how best to proceed.

According to the fundraising page set up by Stein, she and her team expected the filing fee in Wisconsin to cost $1.1 million -- less than a third of what Wisconsin elections officials estimated -- along with $600,000 in Michigan and $500,000 in Pennsylvania. Attorney fees are expected to cost millions of dollars more. The money raised will also pay for the recruitment of recount observers.

Stein has made it clear that the money will only be used for the recount campaigns.

"We are raising money into a dedicated account for a recount campaign. The money cannot be used for anything else. It cannot be used for my campaign. It cannot be used for the Green Party. It can only be used for the recount," Stein said during an interview on ABC's "The View."

Are other states taking similar action?

Recount requests have now been received in all three states that Stein had listed on her site as goals: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson confirmed that a recount request from Stein was received. She said in a statement released Nov. 30 that county clerks "have been gearing up to complete this recount under a very challenging deadline."

Johnson expressed bewilderment at Stein's efforts.

"It is unusual that a candidate who received just 1 percent of the vote is seeking a recount, especially when there is no evidence of hacking or fraud, or even a credible allegation of any tampering. The cost of this recount to Michigan taxpayers could easily reach into the millions of dollars. Based on Wisconsin’s estimate, Michigan taxpayers could be paying $4 million despite the $1 million the Green Party nominee must pay to have the recount," she said in a statement.

The recount process in Michigan was immediately halted on Dec. 1, however, after the state's Bureau of Elections "received an objection from representatives of Donald J. Trump."

In a statement, the bureau -- without explicitly stating where it is in the recount process -- said that "Under Michigan law, the recount is halted when the Board of State Canvassers resolves the objection."

The bureau's board is slated to meet on Dec. 2 and if the objection is accepted, the recount "would be ended," but if the objection is denied, the recount would restart two business days later, on Dec. 6.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren told ABC News that the Green Party has filed a lawsuit contesting the election and asking for a statewide election contest, which she noted is not technically called a recount under their guidelines.

Similar to what happened in Michigan on Dec. 1, the Trump campaign filed court papers in Pennsylvania on Dec. 2 opposing Stein’s case.

“She has to prove that the election was illegal in some way. A judge will decide if a recount will happen,” Murren said of Stein.

Murren said that between 200 and 300 petitions for precinct recounts have been filed, but an unknown number of them were duplicates or submitted after the deadline, so it remains unclear how many of the state’s 9,163 precincts could potentially have contests.

Two of the three states in question -- Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- have already begun required audits of their elections, which is done by checking the results of a random sample of voting machines to make sure the technology actually works.

Michigan has 16 Electoral College votes, Wisconsin has 10 and Pennsylvania has 20.

The final Electoral College count is Trump with 306 votes, Clinton with 232.

How Trump has responded

Trump tweeted that the recount was a “scam” on behalf of the Green Party and he used a portion of Clinton’s concession speech in which she said the election results must be accepted in an effort to diminish the efforts.

According to Clinton campaign counsel Marc Elias, Clinton campaign's legal team will follow Stein's lead in participating in the recount process in Wisconsin and will also join her if she moves forward in Pennsylvania and Michigan, as promised.

Elias said that the Clinton team takes concerns over potential hacking or altering of results "extremely seriously" but also made it clear that they were not the ones who started this process.

“We are getting attacked for participating in a recount that we didn't ask for by the man who won election but thinks there was massive fraud,” Elias tweeted on Nov. 27.

On. Nov. 27, Trump made what others say is a baseless claim that “millions of people” voted illegally, and “I won the popular vote if you deduct” those allegedly fraudulent votes.

Kay Stimson, spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State, told ABC News that the organization has "no information that can help to explain what sources or information are behind the basis of the tweets," referring to Trump's comments about the "millions" of illegal votes and alleged fraud in Virginia, California, and New Hampshire.

On the state level, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla released a statement slamming Trump.

"It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him. His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a President-elect," Padilla said in the statement.

Recount deadlines

Federal law mandates that any recounts need to be completed 35 days after the election, or by Dec. 13.

The electors who make up the votes in the Electoral College are slated to meet in their respective states on Dec. 19 and then send their decisions to Washington. The National Archives states that the electoral votes need to be received by the president of the Senate, which is Vice President Joe Biden, and the archivist by Dec. 28.

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ABC/Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- After taking a victory lap Thursday with his first post-election rally, Donald Trump is returning to the task of assembling a cabinet and staff for his incoming administration.

The president-elect has no public events planned on Friday but is expected to hole up in Trump Tower for meetings with various public figures.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is among those scheduled for a meeting. Bondi is on Trump's presidential transition team as one of its many vice chairs.

During the election, Trump faced questions over a $25,000 check that the Donald J. Trump Foundation sent to Bondi's fundraising committee in 2013. Critics said the donation looked like an attempt to sway Bondi's office against joining a lawsuit against the now-defunct Trump University. Trump and Bondi said the contribution had no link to her office's ultimately deciding not to join the lawsuit.

Unrelated to the question of whether the contribution was intended to influence Bondi, the donation to her political fundraising committee was found to violate tax laws and led to an Internal Revenue Service penalty of $2,500 penalty against the foundation this year, according to the Washington Post. Last month, Trump settled all of the three lawsuits against Trump University for $25 million.

Trump is also set to meet Friday with former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, who has emerged as a contender for the vital position of secretary of state.

And the president-elect is to meet with former Defense Secretary Bob Gates.

Trump and Gates, who headed the Department of Defense under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, were openly and highly critical of each other during the presidential race. But Gates is expected on Friday to make his second trip in two days to Trump Tower. On Thursday, he met with retired Gen. Mike Flynn, whom Trump has picked to become national security adviser.

Among others expected to meet with Trump in New York Friday are Georgia Sen. David Perdue, retired Rear Adm. Jay Cohen and Heidi Heitkamp, a Democratic senator from North Dakota.

Sen. Heitkamp, in a statement, said she "appreciate[s] the president-elect inviting [her] for a meeting."

“Every single day, my work is motivated first and foremost by how I can be most helpful to the people of North Dakota," the statement read. "They are my driving force and have been throughout my career in public service. Whatever job I do, I hope to work with the president-elect and all of my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to best support my state.”

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — President-elect Donald Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared to dodge answering whether Trump's unsubstantiated claim that "millions" voted illegally is true when she appeared on ABC's Good Morning America Friday morning.

Trump inaccurately wrote in a tweet last week that millions of people voted for Hillary Clinton illegally — a claim without any known basis in fact.

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," Trump said.

Clinton currently leads the national popular vote by more than 2.3 million votes.

When asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos if it is appropriate for Trump to make false statements like that, she said, "Many people are questioning the victory. You got people spending millions of dollars, wasting money and time in the Clinton and [Jill] Stein camp in Wisconsin, Michigan, tried in Pennsylvania to recount. So not everybody has ... accepted the election results."

"But to your question," Conway continued, "the president-elect has been talking to different people including Kris Kobach, [secretary of state] of Kansas, about voting irregularities or the number of illegal votes that may have been cast, and I believe that he bases his information on that."

Asked again by Stephanopoulos if the statement by Trump is true, Conway responded, "Well, he's been receiving information about the irregularities and about the illegal votes, particularly from sources, officials like Kris Kobach as I mentioned, but he is messaging to his supporters and to the rest of the country the way he feels."

Conway said Trump won because he had a message that connects with Americans. Addressing the Americans who did not vote for Trump, Conway said that they now "can't get past the grief, denial and anger stages and into the acceptance stages," which she said "really defies what Secretary Clinton and President Obama themselves had said" about coming together as a nation.

Though Clinton won the popular vote, Conway said Trump will still reach those Americans who did not vote for him, because he will "be the president of all Americans, including those that did not vote for him."

Conway was also asked about Trump's rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday night, where some Trump supporters chanted in reference to Clinton, "Lock her up."

"That's the way they feel," Conway said, "And there would be officials who are in charge of such things in the Trump administration who may look at that again. But Donald Trump made very clear last week as the president-elect that he's moved on from that. That he's focused on ... more focused on things, like health care, immigration, bringing jobs back."

When Conway was pressed on whether the Trump administration may pursue prosecution against Clinton, Conway replied, "No, I'm not suggesting that at all. That would be something I would not be able to say."

"But reminding everybody what the president-elect said last week," she continued, "He's moving on to focus on the future, not the past and he has said to The New York Times on the record he thinks that the Clintons have suffered enough. Of course, the Department of Justice, the different committees, the FBI perhaps can take a different look, but nobody expects and nobody is talking about that right now."

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