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First Read's Morning Clips: A baffling legal strategy

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day.
Image: President Donald Trump makes a statement from the Roosevelt Room
President Donald Trump makes a statement from the Roosevelt Room next to the empty chairs of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, after they rebuffed the budget meeting at the White House in Washington on Nov. 28.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

TRUMP AGENDA: A baffling legal strategy

The Washington Post, on how Trump’s apparent new legal defense strategy is baffling plenty of folks in Washington. “The brazen assertion Monday by one of President Trump’s lawyers that a president cannot be found guilty of obstruction of justice signaled a controversial defense strategy in the wide-ranging Russia probe, as Trump’s political advisers are increasingly concerned about the legal advice he is receiving.”

From Tom Winter and Julia Ainsley: “Federal prosecutors are opposing Paul Manafort's request to be released from house arrest on bail, citing his recent efforts to co-write an opinion piece about his work in Ukraine with a person believed to have ties to Russian intelligence — and publish the piece anonymously. Prosecutors filed an objection in federal court Monday that said, "Manafort worked on the draft with a long-time Russian colleague of Manafort's, who is currently based in Russia and assessed [by U.S. officials] to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.’”

The Supreme Court will hear one of the biggest cases of the term today, writes Pete Williams: “A Colorado baker says requiring him to make a cake for a gay wedding would violate his freedom of expression. But the couple he turned down says refusing to serve gay customers is illegal discrimination. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider who's right in one of the most closely watched cases of the term, one that pits freedom of religion and expression against marriage equality and protection from discrimination.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court late Monday allowed complete enforcement of the latest version of President Donald Trump's restriction on travel to the U.S., giving the White House a rare courtroom win over the travel ban issue. With just two noted dissents, the court lifted lower court rulings that had exempted certain family members of people in the United States from the travel limits — including grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-and-sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and cousins,” Williams writes.

Ali Vitali sums up the controversy over Trump’s reduction of public lands in Utah.

Who stays and who goes when harassment is alleged in politics? The New York Times takes a look at the big picture.

And from NBC’s Rachel Elbaum: “New allegations against Rep. John Conyers emerged late Monday with a former staffer accusing the congressman of sexual harassment in an affidavit released by a lawyer… In the document released by lawyer Lisa Bloom, former staffer Elisa Grubbs said she worked in Conyers’ office from approximately 2001 to 2013. She claimed that the congressman "inappropriately touched" her during her time there.”

The New York Times reports that Conyers will announce today that he’s not running for reelection.

POLITICO speaks with Lauren Greene, who accused Rep. Blake Farentold of sexual harassment.

The Wall Street Journal, with what’s next for Congress after taxes: “As Republicans near the finish line on a long-sought tax overhaul, President Donald Trump has committed them to taking up a welfare-revamp fight next. Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he is interested in kick-starting a debate around means-tested social programs, with allies seeing significant political rewards from taking up the issue even without a clear-cut goal.”

The New York Times, with some local coverage of how the GOP tax bill would affect New Yorkers.

POLITICO sums up a moment of drama on the House floor last night, with House conservatives threatening revolt on the party’s spending strategy.

OFF TO THE RACES: RNC resumes support of Roy Moore

From one of us(!): “President Donald Trump continues to enjoy robust support within the Republican Party, but about a third of his own political partisans still say they would prefer a different Republican at the top of the ticket in 2020, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute. Three in ten Republicans — 31 percent — say that they’d like to see a different GOP nominee in the next presidential election, while 63 percent say they’re happy with the current president running for reelection as the party’s standard-bearer.

AL-SEN: NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard confirms that the RNC will resume its support for Roy Moore after the president’s endorsement.

And breaking last night in the Washington Post: “Woman shares new evidence of relationship with Roy Moore when she was 17”

Polling in the race is all over the place, but here’s a good rundown from on where the race seems to be standing.

GA: NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald checks in on the racially-charged Atlanta mayoral race.

ME-GOV: Rep. Chellie Pingree says she’ll decide on a gubernatorial run by the end of the month.

OH-GOV: Richard Cordray will make his gubernatorial run official this morning.

UT-SEN: NBC’s Jonathan Allen looks at how Mitt Romney’s political ambitions in Utah and what they mean for Donald Trump.