January 11, 2017 / 12:30 PM / a year ago

Wednesday Morning Briefing: It's like a John le Carre novel

The intelligence report that President-elect Donald Trump received last week on the Russian hacking of 2016 political campaigns included unverified claims that Russian intelligence operatives have compromising information about him.

One of the most explosive claims is that Trump knew and supported the hacking and leaking of emails damaging to Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported. The accusation has been one of many floating around Beltway circles for months. One of the earliest reports came on October 31 from Mother Jones.

A Kremlin spokesman called the new allegations "total nonsense" and "pulp fiction."

The claims, which originated as opposition research, include of number of other zesty allegations that haven't been proven and weren't derived from conventional intelligence channels. BuzzFeed published the entire 35-page report.

Trump's response:

Tweet ID: "818990655418617856"

It certainly adds a new level of excitement to Trump's scheduled 11 a.m. press conference.

Expecting to fly

Zoo employee Daria Cherepanova walks with Mykh, an 8-month-old great gray owl, during a training session in Krasnoyarsk, Russia January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

Zoo employee Daria Cherepanova walks with Mykh, an 8-month-old great gray owl, during a training session in Krasnoyarsk, Russia January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

Around the country

President Barack Obama's valedictory alternated between an outline of his successes – job creation, the assassination of Osama bin Laden and health insurance for 20 million more people – ruminations on race, and a few passive-aggressive jabs at the incoming president. 

"If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves." – President Obama When prospective Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appears before the Senate confirmation hearing today, he is expected to testify that Russia poses a threat to the United States and that NATO allies are correct to be alarmed at a resurgent Moscow. He will argue, however, that Russia's resurgence happened in the "absence of American leadership" and will call for open and frank dialogue with Moscow. Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy said Trump asked him to lead a presidential panel to review vaccine safety. But Trump's camp walked it back, saying that the president-elect was exploring the possibility of forming an autism committee, but hadn't made any final decisions. The scientific community fears that such a panel would give credence to debunked theories tying childhood immunizations to autism.

Around Wall Street

Digits of the day: $50 million

If you subscribe to the theory that the recent rally in stock prices is the result of optimism about the forthcoming Trump administration, then it follows that his election made JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon $50 million richer. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein's options were underwater to the tune of $7.3 million before the election. Now, they're worth $11.4 million Stock options held by Dow 30 CEOs surged in value by 23 percent to about $1 billion in 2016, with most of the gain coming after Trump’s election win. The $44 billion palm oil industry has found a vocal ally in the food sector: the maker of Nutella. European authorities have listed the oil as a cancer risk. But Italian confectionary firm Ferraro is launching an ad campaign to assure the public about Nutella's safety. China's central bank launched spot checks on major bitcoin exchanges in Beijing and Shanghai, knocking the price of the cryptocurrency down by more than 6 percent. The People's Bank of China is looking into a range of possible rule violations, including market manipulation, money laundering and unauthorized financing. It did not say if any violations had been found.

Around the world

Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships as a group of Chinese warships, led by its sole aircraft carrier, sailed through the Taiwan Strait, the latest sign of heightened tension between Beijing and the self-ruled island. Over the weekend, a Chinese H-6 strategic bomber flew around the Spratly Islands in a new show of force in the contested South China Sea. It was the second such flight by a Chinese bomber in the region this year. 

Today's reason to live

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