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First Read’s Morning Clips: Unpopularity Contest

TRANSITION WATCH: The least popular incoming president in decades

“After a tumultuous campaign and transition, President-elect Donald Trump will take the oath of office Friday as the least popular incoming president in at least four decades, but a majority of Americans nevertheless express optimism that he will be able to fulfill campaign pledges to boost the economy and deal with threats of terrorism, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.”

From the New York Times: “Just days before he is sworn into office, President-elect Donald J. Trump has again focused his penchant for unpredictable disruption on the rest of the world. His remarks in a string of discursive and sometimes contradictory interviews have escalated tensions with China while also infuriating allies and institutions critical to America’s traditional leadership of the West.”

The AP writes on Trump’s meeting with Martin Luther King III.

NBC’s Alex Jaffe previews this week’s confirmation hearings and the focus they will bring on Trump’s domestic agenda.

The New York Times profiles Tom Price, Trump’s pick for HHS.

“Mr. Trump repeatedly sought business in Russia as far back as 1987, when he traveled there to explore building a hotel. He applied for his trademark in the country as early as 1996. And his children and associates have appeared in Moscow over and over in search of joint ventures, meeting with developers and government officials,” the New York Times notes.

From NBC’s Daniella Silva and Peter Alexander: Monica Crowley is backing out of a senior role in the Trump administration after allegations of plagiarism.

D.C. is bracing for 900,000 protesters during inauguration week.

The Washington Post outlines the relatively low-key festivities going on this weekend.

TRUMP AGENDA: The Black List

The Washington Post writes that Republican national security experts who signed anti-Trump letters during the campaign fear that they have now been blacklisted by his team.

“President-elect Donald Trump criticized a cornerstone of House Republicans’ corporate-tax plan, which they had pitched as an alternative to his proposed import tariffs, creating another point of contention between the incoming president and congressional allies,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “The measure, known as border adjustment, would tax imports and exempt exports as part of a broader plan to encourage companies to locate jobs and production in the U.S. But Mr. Trump, in his first comments on the subject, called it ‘too complicated.’”

From POLITICO: “Since the election, Paul Ryan has accommodated and deferred to Donald Trump on all sorts of issues they don’t see eye-to-eye on. But when it comes to Ryan’s career-defining cause — overhauling Medicare and other entitlements — the speaker has held his ground. The clashing philosophies between the GOP's two top pols — Trump once called Ryan's doctrine "political suicide" — is about to come to a head. Left unresolved, it threatens to sink tax reform, a top priority for both men.”

From across the pond, via the BBC: “Theresa May has said the UK "cannot possibly" remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean "not leaving the EU at all". But the prime minister promised to push for the "greatest possible" access to the single market following Brexit.”

And from the Times of London: “Angela Merkel is pressing for a meeting with Donald Trump after he caused “astonishment and agitation” among European leaders with broadsides at Nato, the EU and the German chancellor herself.”

DEM WATCH: Fissures

The Wall Street Journal: “The Democratic fissures exposed in last year’s presidential primary campaign between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have roared back to life, with party officials wary the split will hamper their ability to fight President-elect Donald Trump.”