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First Read's Morning Clips: The Crowd Size Fight Goes On (and On, and On)

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: US Presidential Inauguration
Crowds gather on the Washington Mall between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Momument.Shawn Thew / EPA

TRUMP AGENDA: Caring A LOT about that crowd size

First in the Washington Post: “On the morning after Donald Trump’s inauguration, acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds received an extraordinary summons: The new president wanted to talk to him. In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average.”

NBC’s Ari Melber and Diana Marinaccio look at how Trump’s Twitter usage raises legal or security questions.

Here's NPR on Trump's first week as president.

The Trump administration appears to want a tax on imported goods, but it’s… confusing. From the New York Times: “With the conflict escalating, Mr. Trump appeared to embrace a proposal by House Republicans that would impose a 20 percent tax on all imported goods. The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters that the proceeds would be used to pay for the border wall, estimated to cost as much as $20 billion. But a furious uproar prompted Mr. Spicer to temper his earlier remarks, saying the plan was simply “one idea” that might work to finance the wall. Mr. Spicer said it was not the job of the White House to “roll something out” on tax policy, while Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said the administration was considering “a buffet of options.”

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal editorial page has to say: “Mr. Trump is a foreign-affairs neophyte, but he is already learning that nations can’t be bullied like GOP candidates or CEOs. They have their own nationalist political dynamics and when attacked they push back. Mr. Trump said as a candidate that he’d treat America’s friends better than Mr. Obama did, but his first move has been to treat Mexico like Mr. Obama treated Israel. On present course he may get comparable results, or worse.”

And there’s this: “President Donald Trump said Thursday night that he is willing to subordinate balancing the federal budget in favor of strengthening the military, possibly putting him on a path to clashing with his own pick for budget director.”

The Wall Street Journal: “President Donald Trump is betting big that he can harness U.S. strategic and economic heft to press other countries into one-on-one trade deals, a sharp reversal from recent U.S. policy to negotiate sprawling regional agreements that cover broad swaths of the global economy. The strategy reflects the view of a confident deal maker that trading partners will come to the table ready to make enough concessions to Washington to justify meaningful bilateral deals—and that other economic blocs won’t seize the moment to expand and integrate further, crowding out the U.S.”

The New York Times: “Sensing a political opportunity they have not had in more than a decade, social conservatives are preparing for a lengthy fight over abortion rights that promises to widen the culture war fissures that Republicans have tried for years to bridge.”

More, from POLITICO: “After falsely claiming that at least 1 million people attended his inauguration, Trump predicted Thursday that the anti-abortion march would draw between 300,000 and 600,000 people.”

From NBC’s Jane Timm: “For the past eight years, Republicans skewered President Obama as an "emperor" who acted outside of his "legal authority" for the executive orders he issued from the Oval Office. Now, they are cheering President Donald Trump as he issues a raft of his own.”

The stakes are high for Trump’s meeting with Theresa May, POLITICO writes.

Trump and Putin will speak by phone on Saturday.

David Brooks, on Trump vs. Reagan: “If Reagan’s dominant emotional note was optimism, Trump’s is fear. If Reagan’s optimism was expansive, Trump’s fear propels him to close in: Pull in from Asian entanglements through rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Pull in from European entanglements by disparaging NATO. It’s not a cowering, timid fear; it’s more a dark, resentful porcupine fear.”

DEM WATCH: Pulling the plug on Obamacare outreach

The Fairness Project, an organization that supports state-based ballot initiative campaigns for economic fairness, released a report outlining how it successfully used ballot initiatives to raise wages for 8.1 million working Americans and provide paid sick leave for 2 million in 2016 and explained how campaigns can do the same in 2017 and beyond.

From POLITICO: “The Trump administration has pulled the plug on all Obamacare outreach and advertising in the crucial final days of the 2017 open enrollment season, according to sources at HHS and on Capitol Hill. Even ads that had already been placed and paid for have been pulled, the sources told POLITICO. Enrollment for 2017 ends next Tuesday.”

Kevin Counihan, former CEO of, had this to say about the story: “Before January 20, enrollment was running ahead of schedule, and more Americans were receiving the security of health insurance than ever before. But the Trump Administration's outrageous decision tonight to sabotage Open Enrollment will mean coverage could cost more next year and insurers could drop out of the Marketplace. We know that more young people enroll during the final days of Open Enrollment, but they need to be reminded of the January 31 deadline. Having health insurance is still law of the land. If the President and Republicans in Congress want to change that, they should come up with a plan and show it to the American people, rather than depriving Americans of the chance to sign up for coverage and financial assistance they remain eligible for."