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First Read’s Morning Clips: The Man Behind the Dossier

TRANSITION WATCH: Meet the man behind that explosive dossier

NBC’s Hans Nichols and Ken Dilanian: “An explosive 35-page memo on Donald Trump's relationship with Russia, which contains unverified allegations and which Trump called a "complete fabrication" today, was written by a former British intelligence officer working for Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., two people familiar with the matter told NBC News. Separately, Rohit Kachroo, security editor for NBC News British partner ITV News, reported that his name is Christopher David Steele, a former officer with MI6 who was posted to Moscow in 1990. The memo was originally generated on behalf of Republican opponents of Trumps but was later shopped to the media by Democrats.”

The New York Times on “How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump.”

And the Washington Post on “How a secret and unsubstantiated dossier made it into the public domain.”

“Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he spoke with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday and told him the intelligence community did not leak information about an unverified memo that sparked a firestorm of controversy when it was published online,” writes NBC’s Phil Helsel. “’I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC," Clapper said, referring to the intelligence community. "The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.’”

Benjy Sarlin’s take on Trump’s press conference: We have even more questions than we did when we started.

Ethics experts are calling Trump’s conflict of interest plan “meaningless.”

From POLITICO: “Even though numerous ethics experts, Republicans and Democrats alike, have called explicitly for Trump to adhere to the norms of the Oval Office and sell his business or establish a blind trust, his attorney issued a lengthy statement about why he wouldn’t be doing that, and why it wasn’t necessary, or even possible. “President-elect Trump,” Sheri Dillon said, “should not be expected to destroy the company he built.” But in interviews with POLITICO this week, people who have known, worked for and watched Trump closely for decades offered a different perspective, and one with potentially profound implications for his presidency. The reason, they said, is much simpler. He can’t let go.”

NBC’s Andrew Rafferty sums up Rex Tillerson’s Hill appearance yesterday.

From the Washington Post: “Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Pentagon, is expected to walk a fine line between speaking his mind and aligning himself with some of his future boss’s more controversial positions when he appears before a Senate panel Thursday seeking confirmation.”

From the AP: “Donald Trump's pick to run the CIA faces a Senate confirmation hearing amid a testy standoff between the president-elect and the spy community. Rep. Mike Pompeo, a four-term conservative Kansas Republican, is a member of the House intelligence committee and also served on the partisan committee to investigate the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. He was expected to be on the receiving end of questions from a friendly group of fellow lawmakers Thursday.”

TRUMP AGENDA: Senate takes first step to repeal Obamacare

From Leigh Ann Caldwell: “The U.S. Senate took the first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act after a marathon voting session that started Wednesday evening and extended into early Thursday. The vote does not repeal President Obama's signature achievement, but it does set the stage for Republicans to clear the first procedural hurdle for repeal of the massive health care law. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for a vote expected to take place on Friday.”

How do Trump voters in Iowa feel so far? The New York Times talks to a group of them who remain unfazed.

From POLITICO: “House GOP staff and Donald Trump transition officials will talk Thursday about the president-elect’s campaign pledge to lower child-care costs and guarantee women six weeks of paid maternity leave — policies endorsed by his eldest daughter Ivanka but which could meet steadfast GOP resistance.”