News Wrap: Trump son-in-law tapped for top White House role

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Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump, leave Trump Tower in New York U.S., December 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton - RTSV5XC

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JUDY WOODRUFF: A crush of confirmation hearings begins tomorrow for team Trump, but the focus tonight is on someone who’s not subject to Senate confirmation. He’s a close relative of the president-elect, and the transition announced this evening he’s getting a top White House slot.

John Yang begins our coverage.

JOHN YANG: Throughout the campaign, Jared Kushner had Donald Trump’s ear and now the president wants him to follow him to the White House as a top adviser.

Like the president-elect, Kushner, who turns 36 tomorrow, is the son of a real estate magnate. He became CEO of Kushner Companies, his father’s multibillion-dollar business, in 2008. In 2009, he married Ivanka Trump. Trump insiders credit Kushner with restructuring and modernizing his father-in-law’s campaign.

During the transition, he’s been involved in key personnel decisions. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told “Forbes” magazine: “Every president I have ever known has one or two people he intuitively and structurally trusts. I think Jared might be that person.”

Even with President-elect Trump’s confidence, Kushner could face hurdles before he can assume a White House post. They arise from both who he is and what he owns. A 1967 federal law bars officials from appointing relatives to any agency they control. But it’s not clear whether it applies to White House jobs.

Today, Kushner’s lawyer argues it doesn’t and said Kushner won’t be taking a salary. As for Kushner’s business holdings, a senior transition official said he will resign as CEO and divest from a significant number of assets, including foreign investments.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will get the Trump team’s perspective on this and other issues right after the news summary.

In the day’s other news: Russia pushed back against a U.S. intelligence report that it meddled in the presidential campaign. The report last week said President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the effort. Today, a Kremlin spokesman said the investigation is “reminiscent of a witch-hunt,” echoing language that President-elect Trump used last week.

MAN (through translator): We still don’t know what data those who make such unfounded accusations have. We still strongly reject any involvement of Moscow and accusations that Russian officials or institutions were involved in any hacker attacks. We are observing a serious fatigue with these accusations.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Trump today deflected questions today about the hacking. He said — quote — “We will talk to you about that at another time.” He holds his news conference since the election on Wednesday.

China warned President-elect Donald Trump today that it will “take revenge” if he reneges on the so-called one China policy. That doctrine treats Taiwan as part of China. The threat from Chinese state-run media came after the Taiwanese president made a weekend stopover in Houston, Texas, and met with Republican lawmakers. Mr. Trump has spoken with the Taiwanese leader, and at one point, appeared to suggest that the one-China policy might need reconsidering.

The man accused of killing five people at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport had his first appearance in federal court today. According to court documents, Esteban Santiago has admitted to the fatal shooting last Friday. At the hearing today, the Iraq War veteran said he understood the charges against him, which carry the death penalty.

Northern California and Nevada are facing what could be their worst flood disaster in the last decade. A powerful storm system moved in over the weekend, unleashing heavy downpours and strong winds. And it forced some 1,300 residents in Reno, Nevada, to evacuate after the Truckee River overflowed. The storm also blew down a giant California sequoia that is famed for a tunnel carved into its truck. It had stood for centuries.

The musical “La La Land” swept seven Golden Globe film awards. And the ceremony also touched off a war of words with President-elect Trump. It started with actress Meryl Streep and her speech accepting a lifetime achievement award. She deplored Mr. Trump’s imitating a disabled reporter during the primaries.

MERYL STREEP, Actress: And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The president-elect fired back on Twitter today. He called Streep — quote — “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood” and — quote — “a Hillary flunky who lost big.”

Mr. Trump also tweeted praise for Fiat Chrysler’s decision to build new jeeps and a truck in the Midwestern U.S., instead of Mexico. The company said it’s creating 2,000 jobs.

On Wall Street, meanwhile, stocks followed oil prices lower. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 76 points to close at 19887. The Nasdaq rose 10 points, and the S&P 500 slipped eight.

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