ANALYSIS: Finding the Loyalists in Trump’s Administration

As President-elect Donald Trump puts together his White House team and makes his Cabinet picks, he has tapped governors, business executives and retired military officers, but there’s one group largely absent from the his appointments so far: longtime Trump loyalists.

With the exception of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who supported Trump early and landed the nomination for attorney general, Trump’s highest-profile political supporters during the campaign — Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich — are all, at least for now, without any known role in the incoming Trump administration.

The same is true for those who ran Trump’s campaign during the first months of the Republican primaries.

Until Trump started winning primaries, his campaign was run by a small band of dedicated loyalists including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, spokesperson Hope Hicks, social media guru Dan Scavino, former political director Michael Glassner and Iowa state director Chuck Laudner. So far, none of them have been publicly offered jobs in the administration.

Meanwhile, Trump’s Cabinet picks have included people who opposed him during the Republican primaries, including Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C. (U.N. ambassador), and Betsy DeVos (education). His pick for deputy commerce secretary, Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, even funded a super PAC that ran ads attacking Trump during the primaries.

The personnel moves so far may be a sign that political payback is not on high Trump’s list of priorities when it comes to making key appointments. But some Trump loyalists are concerned that the Republican establishment Trump defeated in the primaries has taken over his transition.

“As a candidate, Trump was a guy who rewarded party loyalty above all, but since the election, loyalty has been thrown to the wayside,” said one Republican operative with direct knowledge of the Trump transition.

“If [Jeb] Bush would have won,” the operative said, “all the Bush loyalists would be rewarded, and the Trump people would be gone forever.”

This operative puts the blame on incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus.

“Reince has told Trump that the team that helped him win the election, is not the team to help him govern,” the operative said.

What We Know So Far About the Oakland Warehouse Fire Investigation

Investigators are working to determine whether there was criminal liability in the horrific blaze in Oakland, California, that claimed the lives of 36 men and women last Friday and, if so, who was responsible.

The latest clues point to a refrigerator as a “possible” source of the blaze, an official briefed on the probe told ABC News on Tuesday.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has said that if charges are brought, they could range from murder to involuntary manslaughter, but there is no guarantee that this will happen.

So far, 35 of the 36 victims have been identified, and 30 families have been notified. A 17-year-old’s name will not be released.

Here is what we know about the ongoing investigation into the fire:

PHOTO: A firefighter climbs down a ladder at the scene of a fire that killed at least nine people on 31st St., Dec. 3, 2016, in Oakland, California. Noah Berger/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
A firefighter climbs down a ladder at the scene of a fire that killed at least nine people on 31st St., Dec. 3, 2016, in Oakland, California.

The Ghost Ship

The Ghost Ship, as some called the warehouse, was purportedly run by a married couple, Derick Ion Almena and Micah Allison, but owned by Chor Nar Siu Ng, a woman who appeared to have little involvement with its use as a place for artists’ studios and a performance space for musicians. Neighbors and occupants of the warehouse told The Associated Press that Almena, who often went by the name Derick Ion, illegally carved the warehouse into what it became before the fire.

On Tuesday, Oakland officials released the city’s records on the building, detailing several complaints made by city inspectors and neighbors in recent years.

The most recent city record on the property dates from just days before the fire. The Nov. 14 notice shows an “investigation pending” for “illegal interior building structure,” an apparent reference to the illegal living spaces constructed inside the warehouse.

Days before that, the building’s owner was notified of a code violation. The records say “a ton of garbage [is] piling up on the property,” including “hazardous” trash.

Oakland police said that they responded to numerous calls about the warehouse in the past, but it is unclear how many and what they concerned. It is also unknown whether Almena, Allison or Ng will be held accountable by authorities for the death toll from the fire.

The last permitted use of the building was as a warehouse, according to the city, which said it received complaints of blight and unpermitted interior construction at the building on Nov. 13, 2016. On Nov. 17 a city building inspector visited the property and verified the blight complaint but could not gain access to the building to confirm the complaint regarding unpermitted construction.

ABC affiliate KGO-TV reached out to Almena for comment on Sunday.

“They’re my children. They’re my friends. They’re my family. They’re my loves. They’re my future. What else do I have to say?” he told the station.

Almena appeared to address the fire in a Facebook post early Saturday morning by saying that what he worked for was destroyed but didn’t elaborate on what work he had put into the warehouse.

“Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel safe and sound … it’s as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope … to be standing now in poverty of self worth,” he wrote.

SLIDESHOW: Oakland Mourns Victims of Warehouse Fire

A ‘Wall of Fire’

As many as 100 people were at the Ghost Ship for a party on Friday night when what authorities described as an electrical fire broke out just before midnight.

Electrical fires can be caused by any number of problems, from faulty electrical sockets to damaged wiring, but no specifics have emerged to determine what may have sparked it. No allegations of arson have surfaced in the days since the doomed party, but that possibility hasn’t been ruled out.

Darin Ranelletti, the interim director of the city planning and building department, told the press that the party required a permit, which he said was not obtained.

Survivors of the inferno recall 15 feet of flames and billowing smoke so powerful that it opened a window, letting in oxygen that apparently intensified the blaze.

Nikki Kelber, a resident of the warehouse, which housed artist studios, said she was asleep Friday night and “woke up to smoke and an entire wall of fire.”

She was one of the lucky ones and made it out alive. The victims of the fire died of smoke inhalation, according to authorities.

Some victims texted messages to relatives, including “I’m going to die” and “I love you,” according to Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly.

PHOTO: Recovery teams examine the charred remains of the two-story converted warehouse that caught fire killing dozens in Oakland, California, Dec. 4, 2016.Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Recovery teams examine the charred remains of the two-story converted warehouse that caught fire killing dozens in Oakland, California, Dec. 4, 2016.

A Housing Crisis

Ranelletti told the press that the warehouse is under investigation to determine whether it was used to house people illegally.

The Bay Area has among the highest costs of living in the U.S., and housing costs and a lack of availability are among the chief concerns of those living in the region, according to a study by the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored public policy advocacy group.

Oakland’s warehouses have become hubs for artists and musicians in recent years, according to residents who spoke to ABC News, largely because they can’t afford to live elsewhere.

Carol Crewdson, a friend of Sara Hoda, a Montessori schoolteacher who was one of the victims of the Ghost Ship fire, remembered her fondly in a conversation with ABC News. Crewdson frequently touched on the crisis of space that affects many of the Bay Area’s poor and young. She said she lived with Hoda in a house where people occupied spare bathrooms as bedrooms and some lived on the lawn.

Crewdson described some of Oakland’s buildings as almost like shelters, where people live because of a lack of alternatives.

“There were a lot of people in tough situations just trying to make ends meet,” she said of the space she shared with her late friend.

It is unclear at this time how many people were living at the Ghost Ship under illegal or unsafe conditions until Friday night.

You Asked: How Do I Burn Calories With an Injury?

A body in motion likes to stay in motion. For athletes, being sidelined from sports can trigger anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts, according to a review study from Princeton University.

But whether you’re an elite athlete or not, sooner or later we all must cope with injury. When it comes to the question of how to stay active while injured, “the answer has numerous caveats that are specific to the injury,” says James Onate, associate professor of health and rehabilitation sciences at Ohio State University.

Onate says rowing machines or ergometers—the exercise machine that looks like a set of bike pedals for your hands—are great workouts for people with lower-body injuries. For upper-body issues, recumbent bikes and water-supported running (which eases stress on the joints) can give you that endorphin rush you’re looking for, he says.

But for people with back or abdominal injuries, or for those recovering from many surgeries, nearly all forms of vigorous or dynamic exercise may be off limits. What then?

Try non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, as it’s called by the experts who study it.

“NEAT refers to all our spontaneous daily movements that aren’t dictated by sports or work: everything from getting up out of a chair to fidgeting,” says Dr. Michael Jensen, a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic.

Jensen’s research has shown that these NEAT movements vary significantly from person to person and may help explain why two people who eat similar diets and participate in the same exercise activities gain or lose weight at significantly different rates.

“It’s not a coincidence that people who seem fidgety or who can’t sit still tend to be skinny,” he says. “What we’ve found is that all movement adds up to something meaningful.”

Some studies have concluded that regular physical activity can’t offset the heart disease or cancer risks that result from long periods of sitting still. But NEAT movements can break up those long sedentary periods and lower the associated health risks, says Dr. Pedro Villablanca, a cardiologist with New York’s Montefiore Medical Center.

Villablanca’s research has shown that NEAT movements alone may add up to a whopping 2,000 burned calories per day, on top of the energy your body naturally burns just to keep you alive.

“What we’ve learned is that all movement is beneficial,” Villablanca says. Walking, standing, stretching, fidgeting—it all adds up. “Even chewing gum burns around 15 calories per hour,” he says.

The takeaway here isn’t that traditional exercise activities like walking or swimming aren’t great for you. They are. But if an injury makes vigorous exercise impossible, filling your day with small movements—twisting in your chair, sitting up straight, stretching—can help you burn calories and maintain your physical fitness.

Of course, NEAT’s powers have their limits. If you’re a marathon runner, some extra movements aren’t going to let you maintain the fitness level you’d achieved before that sprain sidelined you, Jensen says.

But don’t assume that because you can’t run or lift weights, you can’t burn calories. “Even if you’re injured, little movements matter,” Villablanca says.

Michigan Recount Now in Doubt; Pennsylvania Sets Hearing

Michigan’s presidential recount appeared in doubt on Wednesday, two days after it started, after a state appeals court said the Green Party candidate’s poor showing in the election disqualified her from seeking another look at the vote.

Meanwhile, the fate of Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for a recount in Pennsylvania must wait at least until a federal court hearing on Friday, just four days before the Dec. 13 federal deadline for states to certify their election results.

President-elect Donald Trump narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in both states and Wisconsin, which started its recount last week.

None of the recounts were expected to affect the outcome of the election. Stein, who received about 1 percent of the vote in all three states, said she requested them to verify the accuracy of the vote. She has suggested, without evidence, that the votes were susceptible to hacking.

Here’s what’s happening in each state and in Nevada, where a partial recount of the race was requested by independent presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente:



The recount is more than 70 percent complete in Wisconsin, and Clinton has gained just 82 votes on Trump, who won the state by more than 22,000 votes. The Wisconsin Elections Commission reported Wednesday that 34 of 72 counties had completed their work and that the others are on track to finish by next week’s deadline. More than 2.1 million votes out of the nearly 3 million cast have been recounted.



A recount that started Monday might end after the state appeals court said Stein has no standing to have the votes recounted. The court said she finished fourth in the election and doesn’t qualify as an “aggrieved” candidate under Michigan law.

The court ordered the state elections board to reject her recount petition. Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, said the decision means the recount “must stop.” But Stein’s attorney, Mark Brewer, insisted the recount isn’t over.

Stein is appealing that decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The elections board met again Wednesday but said it will wait to decide whether to end the recount until it sees what U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith does. He had ordered Monday that an immediate statewide recount of roughly 4.8 million ballots should start. Several counties did, including the largest, Wayne County, where Detroit is located.

But Goldsmith’s decision dealt with just the timing of the recount. Goldsmith heard arguments Wednesday over whether to lift his recount order. He has said he will issue a written decision.

Trump won Michigan by about 10,700 votes over Clinton.



U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia on Tuesday scheduled a hearing Friday on the request for a recount. The Republican Party and Trump warned that the case threatens Pennsylvania’s ability to certify its election before the Dec. 13 federal deadline. Stein’s team hasn’t produced evidence of hacking, but calls Pennsylvania’s election system “a national disgrace.”

Also Tuesday, Pennsylvania election officials updated the state’s vote count to show that Trump’s lead over Clinton had shrunk to about 44,000 out of more than 6 million votes cast. That is still shy of Pennsylvania’s 0.5 percent trigger for an automatic statewide recount. A state spokeswoman said 15 provisional ballots remained uncounted.



A partial recount is underway in Nevada at the request of De La Fuente, who finished last with a fraction of 1 percent of the vote. He paid about $14,000 for the recount to provide what he called a counterbalance to the recounts sought by Stein. Most of the 92 precincts being re-counted are in the Las Vegas area, with eight of the precincts in four other counties. If the sample shows a discrepancy of at least 1 percent for De La Fuente or Clinton, a full recount will be launched in all 17 Nevada counties. Clinton defeated Trump in Nevada by 27,202 votes, out of 1.1 million votes cast. Nevada Secretary of State spokeswoman Gail Anderson said the recount will be finished by the end of this week.


Associated Press writers Ed White in Detroit; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Trump Again Threatens Action Against Flag Burners

The President-elect, returned to the trail Tuesday night in the second stop on his “Thank You” tour — introducing his defense secretary pick, Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis to a crowd in North Carolina.

During the rally, he touched on a wide range of topics, but focused much of his energy on the military and patriotism just a few miles from Fort Bragg.

Trump once again appeared to take aim at those who would burn the American flag, saying that he would determine what should be done.

“We love our flag. And we don’t like it when we see people ripping up our flag and burning our flag. We don’t like it. And we’ll see what we’re going to do about that. Okay? We’re going to see,” he told the crowd of thousands gathered at the Crown Coliseum.

His comments echoed those from last month.

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016

The President-elect also commented on flag burning during his first stop on his ‘Thank You’ tour in Cincinnati last week.

“And do you agree with my stance that if people burned the American flag, there should be consequences. Right?”

But Trump’s current stance appears to be in opposition to what he believed in 2015.

In an interview with David Letterman on Jan. 8, 2015, just months before he launched his campaign, Trump agreed with Letterman “100 percent” that flag burning is a form of expression.

Trump introduced Gen. Mattis as “the right person to lead our defense department,” he said told the crowd.

“Mad Dog” plays no games, right?”

Mattis, former U.S. Central Command & Marine Corps commander, is not yet seven years removed from service and requires a congressional waiver to serve in the position. On Tuesday, speaking briefly at the rally, Mattis expressed his desire to serve.

“I look forward to being the civilian leader so long as the congress gives me the waiver and the senate votes to consent,” Mattis said.

Trump also touted a deal with Japanese Corporation, SoftBank, that he says will bring $50 billion and 50,000 jobs to the U.S.

“Did anybody see it? Masa,” Trump said in North Carolina. “Great guy of Japan…He’s pledged that he’s going to put $50 billion into the United States because of our victory. He wasn’t investing in our country. 50 billion. 50,000 jobs. 50,000 jobs he’s going to be investing in.”

As Trump took his victory lap in front of loyal supporters in North Carolina, Vice-President elect Mike Pence addressed a Heritage Foundation gala in Washington, making the case to the capitol’s conservative leaders that Trump will follow a shared agenda.

“He loves this country, he loves everything that has made America great before and he’s going to fight every day to make America great again,” Pence said to the crowd at the event, which was held in a ballroom at Trump’s Washington hotel.

Gen. Kelly Emerges as Strong Contender for Homeland Security Secretary

Retired four-star Marine Gen. John Kelly, the former head of U.S. Southern Command, who has met with president-elect Trump several times in recent weeks, has emerged as a strong contender for secretary of homeland security, ABC News has learned.

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has been another contender.

Kelly’s name was confirmed by multiple senior Trump transition sources as garnering serious consideration.

The DHS position has been one of the trickiest to fill: the agency is one of the largest in the federal government and is one of the most challenging posts, given the broad and evolving security threats.

Mike Flynn Jr. Forced Out of Trump Transition Amid Fake News Controversy

Donald Trump’s team said today that Michael Flynn Jr. — the son of Trump’s pick for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — was forced out of the transition efforts amid controversy over a fake news story that he pushed on Twitter.

“The younger Michael Flynn was helping his father with some administration and scheduling duties early on in the transition process,” Trump team spokesman Jason Miller said, adding that Michael Flynn Jr. is “no longer involved with the transition efforts.”

The decision came from Trump himself, two transition officials said. Flynn Jr. is accused of pushing the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory in a flood of tweets Sunday and Monday, prompted by gunplay at Ping Pong Comet Pizza in Washington, D.C.

The suspect in that case allegedly went to the eatery to investigate a fake news story involving Hillary Clinton and campaign manager John Podesta.

“Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many “coincidences” tied to it,” Flynn Jr. said in one of his tweets.

Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many “coincidences” tied to it.

— Michael G Flynn???? (@mflynnJR) December 5, 2016

Edgar Welch, 28, allegedly drove to Washington from Salisbury, NC to “self-investigate” “Pizzagate” and fired one shot from an assault rifle inside, sending patrons fleeing. There were no reports of injuries.

Metro police called the Ping Pong Comet story “a fictitious online conspiracy theory” and charged Welch with assault.

It was unclear if Welch has entered a plea.

Michael Flynn Sr. has also used his social media as a platform to promote fake news stories involving Hillary Clinton. He has not commented on his tweets.

The Number of Smokers in the U.S. Just Hit a New Low

The number of Americans who smoke cigarettes has hit a new low, dipping below 40 million for the first time since record-keeping began five decades ago.

A CDC report found that the number of smokers dropped from 45.1 million in 2005 to 36.5 million in 2015, constituting 15% of Americans.

Rates decreased more sharply among men (from 24% to 16%) than among women (from 17% to 14%), according to the New York Times. Twenty-five to 64-year-olds were more likely to smoke than those who were older or younger. Non-Hispanic blacks and whites were more likely to smoke than Hispanics. Those living below the poverty line were nearly twice as likely to smoke as others.


Why You Might Have High Blood Pressure Without Knowing It

Health experts often assume that blood pressure measured in a medical office or hospital may be higher than usual, thanks to the anxiety brought on from being in a doctor’s office (a phenomenon known as white-coat hypertension). As a result, physicians may not take borderline-high blood pressure too seriously in otherwise healthy adults.

A new study suggests that white-coat hypertension is actually less common than its exact opposite: a condition known as masked hypertension, in which blood pressure measurements at the doctor’s office are actually lower than those taken at other times of the day. Doctors may be missing a significant percentage of people who should be monitored (and potentially treated) for high blood pressure, the authors say, especially among young, normal-weight patients.

For the new study, published yesterday in the journal Circulation, researchers from Stony Brook University and Columbia University recruited 888 healthy men and women with an average age of 45. They asked participants to wear a portable blood pressure cuff for 24 hours as they went about their daily activities to monitor their ambulatory (around-the-clock) blood pressure. Multiple blood pressure readings were also taken during three separate visits to a clinic to represent measurements taken in a doctor’s-office setting. 20 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

When the researchers compared those numbers, they found that ambulatory blood pressure—an average of all measurements taking while they were awake—tended to be higher than their in-office averages, not lower. On average, ambulatory systolic readings were 7 points higher than those taken in clinical settings, while diastolic readings were 2 points higher.

About 16% percent of patients who had normal in-office readings turned out to have high blood pressure the rest of the day. Overall, masked hypertension affected about 15% of all study participants, while white-coat hypertension affected only 1%.

Masked hypertension was more common in men than in women, and in younger adults who were not overweight. As participants grew older and heavier, the gap between their in-office and ambulatory blood pressure narrowed and, in some cases, disappeared or reversed.

“These findings debunk the widely held belief that ambulatory blood pressure is usually lower than clinic blood pressure,” said lead author Joseph E. Schwartz, PhD, professor of psychiatry and sociology at Stony Brook University, in a press release. “It is important for healthcare providers to know that there is a systematic tendency for ambulatory blood pressure to exceed clinic blood pressure in healthy, untreated individuals evaluated for hypertension during well-patient visits.” 18 Superfoods for Your Heart

The findings were true among white, African American, and Hispanic participants, although the authors say they should be confirmed in more diverse study populations. (The majority of patients in this study were white.) They also note that this trend may not apply for people who have previously been diagnosed with, or are currently being treated for, high blood pressure.

Ambulatory blood pressure is generally recognized as a better predictor of future cardiovascular disease than in-office blood pressure readings; previous research has shown that elevated blood pressure throughout the day significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular events, compared to consistently “normal” readings. Unless doctors recognize a potential problem during an office visit, though, most patients are never given ambulatory tests.

The study authors suggest that many adults—especially young and normal-weight people whose in-office readings put them in the prehypertension category—would likely benefit from completing a 24-hour monitoring. (The closer a person’s in-office reading is to high blood pressure, the more likely that person is to have masked hypertension, they say, so people on the low end of normal probably aren’t at risk.) 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

When seeing patients for routine physicals or other reasons not related to heart health, “physicians should probably be more concerned that the clinic [blood pressure] underestimates, rather than overestimates, the patient’s average daytime [blood pressure],” the authors wrote.

They hope that their findings will encourage doctors to recommend this next step for more people, and that future research will determine if and how people with high ambulatory blood pressure should be treated.

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Beauty Products Marketed to Black Women May Contain More Hazardous Chemicals: Report

Beauty and hair products marketed to black women are more likely to contain potentially harmful chemicals and ingredients, according to a new report from a nonprofit environmental research group.

Researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed 1,177 beauty and personal care products marketed to black women and compared the ingredients to a scoring system used for the EWG’s Skin Deep database of over 64,000 personal care products. The database ranks the safety of cosmetics and similar products on a scale of one to 10 (highest hazard), based on a methodology that is outlined here.

Only 25% of the products that the EWG looked at fell into the “low hazard” category, compared to 40% of products that are marketed to the general public. “As a black woman myself, I was disheartened that black women have fewer options for healthier products when they are choosing from products specifically targeted to them,” says co-author Nneka Leiba, deputy director for research at EWG.

The worst-scoring products aimed at black women, according to the report, were hair relaxers and bleaching products, but some lipsticks, concealers and foundations also scored poorly. Many of the hair relaxers and dyes contained lye which is used to break down chemical bonds in hair. Some chemical hair straighteners have been linked to baldness or a higher risk for growths in a woman’s uterus, the researchers point out. Often, hair products contain fragrances which have chemicals that are not always disclosed on product labels. “Even the [products] that market themselves as ‘no lye’ have other ingredients that are also hazardous and could cause chemical burns,” says study co-author Paul Pestano, an EWG senior database analyst.

Some of the health issues associated with the ingredients in the beauty products included hormone disruption, allergies, reproductive damage, and cancer. Some of the ingredients have suspected—but not proven—health effects. “As highlighted in the study, there is far too little research and far too little known about the ingredients in cosmetics,” Professor Philippa Darbre from the University of Readin told CNN.

To pick the personal care products to assess, the report authors spent a year gathering a list of popular products used and sold at retailers and speciality stores catering to black women. They also looked through aisles at pharmacies and other stores that sold products for people of color. “We know black women don’t only purchase products marketed to them,” says Leiba. “But if a black woman wants to choose products marketed for her, she should be able to find healthy products available to her. This is not acceptable.”

Leiba says that people interested in using the EWG database can look up the products they use to see if they contain ingredients they want to avoid.

“I want this report to empower black women,” says Leiba. “These are issues that affect men and women. When consumers become educated they can demand companies change their formulation, or they can choose other companies to purchase from. People can demand companies prioritize their safety.”

You can read more about the report and the various ingredients here. The list of 1,177 products is available here.