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First Read's Morning Clips: On Flynn Ice

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mike Flynn arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mike Flynn arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York City, on Nov. 17, 2016.REUTERS


National security adviser Michael Flynn, in the headlines this morning:

  • Is the White House still confident in Flynn? White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller declined to say on NBC’s Meet the Press.
  • From the New York Times: “The national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, has hunkered down since investigators began looking into what, exactly, he told the Russian ambassador to the United States about the lifting of sanctions imposed in the last days of the Obama administration, and whether he misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations. His survival in the job may hang in the balance… Although Mr. Trump suggested to reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday that he was unaware of the latest questions swirling around Mr. Flynn’s dealings with Russia, aides said over the weekend in Florida — where Mr. Flynn accompanied the president and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe — that Mr. Trump was closely monitoring the reaction to Mr. Flynn’s conversations. There are transcripts of a conversation in at least one phone call, recorded by American intelligence agencies that wiretap foreign diplomats, which may determine Mr. Flynn’s future… Several staff members said that Mr. Flynn, who was a career Army officer, was not familiar with how to call up the National Guard in an emergency — for, say, a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina or the detonation of a dirty bomb in an American city.”
  • From the Washington Post: “Privately, some administration officials said that Flynn’s position has weakened and support for him has eroded largely because of a belief that he was disingenuous about Russia and therefore could not be fully trusted going forward. “The knives are out for Flynn,” said one administration official who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly.”
  • From the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Priebus is leading the review. Some administration officials are hopeful Mr. Flynn would resign on his own, a person familiar with the matter said. Some people close to Mr. Trump already are speculating on possible successors, including retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who advised Mr. Trump during the campaign and who is chief of staff of the National Security Council.”
  • From POLITICO: “President Donald Trump, frustrated over his administration’s rocky start, is complaining to friends and allies about some of his most senior aides — leading to questions about whether he is mulling an early staff shakeup. Trump has told several people that he is particularly displeased with national security adviser Michael Flynn over reports that he had top-secret discussions with Russian officials and lied about it. The president, who spent part of the weekend dealing with the Flynn controversy, has been alarmed by reports from top aides that they don't trust Flynn. "He thinks he's a problem," said one person familiar with the president’s thinking. ‘I would be worried if I was General Flynn.’”
  • And from the AP: “Trump has told associates he is troubled by the situation, but he has not said whether he plans to ask Flynn to step down, according to a person who spoke with him recently. Flynn was a loyal Trump supporter during the campaign, but he is viewed skeptically by some in the administration's national security circles, in part because of his ties to Russia.”

The New York Times notes that Trump responded to North Korea’s missile launch over the weekend with “uncharacteristic restraint.”

POLITICO profiles Sebastian and Katharine Gorka.

“President Trump has embarked on the most aggressive campaign against government regulation in a generation, joining with Republican lawmakers to roll back rules already on the books and limit the ability of federal regulators to impose new ones,” notes the Washington Post.

The New York Times talks to Eric and Don Jr. about how they will continue to run Trump’s company.

How might Trump’s promise to “open the mines” turn out? Jane Timm takes a look.

NBC’s Ali Vitali reports on Melania Trump’s conspicuous absence from the White House.

The Washington Post: “One of President Trump’s longtime friends made a striking move on Sunday: After talking privately with the president over drinks late Friday, Christopher Ruddy publicly argued that Trump should replace his White House chief of staff. “A lot of people have been saying, ‘Look, Donald has some problems,’ and I think he realizes that he’s got to make some changes going forward,” Ruddy said in an interview with The Washington Post.”

NBC’s Kailani Koenig writes that Bernie Sanders on Meet the Press dismissed a new effort to get him to start a new political party.

The latest on health care, from the Wall Street Journal: “The Affordable Care Act’s tax on high-cost employer health plans faced sharp opposition from employers and unions. Now, Republicans are drawing equal fire for ACA replacement proposals that those groups say would have some of the same effects.”