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First Read's Morning Clips: Familiar Ritual, Unfamiliar Leader

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day.
Image: President Bill Clinton, along with First Lady Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper Gore attend the Lincoln Memorial Opening Concert's pre-Inaugural event on Jan. 17, 1993 in Washington, D.C.
President Bill Clinton, along with First Lady Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper Gore attend the Lincoln Memorial Opening Concert's pre-Inaugural event on Jan. 17, 1993 in Washington, D.C.Visions of America / UIG via Getty Images

TRANSITION WATCH: A familiar ritual with an unfamiliar new leader

NBC’s Andrew Rafferty previews today’s familiar ritual with an unfamiliar new leader.

Here’s everything you need to know about the inauguration – and to livestream the festivities on

The Washington Post looks at the big picture of what will happen today in America’s capital city.

Before he’s sworn in, Trump will be briefed on the procedure to launch nuclear weapons.

Dan Balz: “It is customary for incoming chief executives to do so as they speak to the country for the first time as its leader. But after a rancorous campaign that exposed the raw nerves of partisans on both sides, that was fought over elemental questions of character, honesty, temperament and national identity, and that saw the Russians interfere in the process, Trump’s America is as deeply divided as it has been in years and has no signs of a reconciliation on the horizon.”

Trump offered $10,000 to a supporter whose story was profiled in the Washington Post.

What do donations to the Inauguration get you? Access.

Sean Spicer says Trump’s inauguration speech will be a “philosophical document.”

The AP: “Just before noon, Donald Trump will stand in front of the U.S. Capitol, place his hand on Abraham Lincoln's Bible and take the oath of office as the next president of the United States. And the world will hold its breath.”

TRUMP AGENDA: Latest twist in the Trump-Russia story

From the New York Times: “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said. The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts.”

And the Wall Street Journal: “When Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the U.S. on Friday, it will mark the climax of a decadelong political uprising in a nation still hurting from the 2008 recession and frustrated by a gridlocked government. The New York businessman, the first president without any previous experience in elected office or the military, says he is eager to demonstrate the changes he has promised to deliver, which center on creating jobs, increasing military spending, cutting taxes and taking new approaches to some of America’s most intractable foreign-policy problems.”

POLITICO handicaps Trump’s first 100 days.

The LA Times notes that some of Trump’s plans are generally within policy orthodoxy, but some are truly radical.

From the New York Times: “Mr. Trump will be sworn in at noon Eastern time on Friday, but his team was still scrambling to fill key administration posts when he got here on Thursday, announcing last-minute plans to retain 50 essential State Department and national security officials currently working in the Obama administration to ensure “continuity of government,” according to Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary.”

And don’t lose sight of this, from the New York Times: “Conflicts that for months have been theoretical are now about to become real — most immediately a possible challenge by the federal government. It owns the building that houses Mr. Trump’s hotel and has granted him a 60-year lease. From the moment he is sworn in as president at noon Friday, Mr. Trump may be in violation of that lease, given a provision that appears to prohibit federal elected officials from renting the Old Post Office building, the Pennsylvania Avenue landmark that houses the hotel, from the government.”