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First Read's Morning Clips: Flynn Wants Immunity

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn arrives at the Trump Tower for meetings with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, in New York on Nov. 17, 2016.Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP/Getty Images

TRUMP AGENDA: Flynn asks for immunity

The big news breaking overnight, from NBC’s Frank Thorp: “Former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn has told the Senate Intelligence Committee he is willing to be interviewed about the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia in return for immunity from prosecution, a Congressional official told NBC News. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Flynn had told the FBI and Congress he was willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity. In a statement tweeted Thursday, Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner, confirmed that discussions had taken place with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and said ‘General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it.’”

Here’s what Trump tweeted this morning: “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”

First in the New York Times: “A pair of White House officials helped provide Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. The revelation on Thursday that White House officials disclosed the reports, which Mr. Nunes then discussed with Mr. Trump, is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.”

And more, from the Washington Post: “After assembling reports that showed that Trump campaign officials were mentioned or inadvertently monitored by U.S. spy agencies targeting foreign individuals, Cohen took the matter to the top lawyer for the National Security Council, John Eisenberg. The third White House official involved was identified as Michael Ellis, a lawyer who previously worked with Nunes on the House Intelligence Committee but joined the Trump administration as an attorney who reports to Eisenberg. Ellis and Eisenberg report to the White House counsel, Donald McGahn.”

The Wall Street Journal writes that Trump is trying to get back on offense.

And Leigh Ann Caldwell sums up Trump’s attacks on the House Freedom Caucus.

New numbers from AP-NORC: “Most Americans disapprove of Donald Trump's overall performance two months into his presidency. But they're more upbeat about at least one critical area: his handling of the economy. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of Trump's overall performance, and about the same percentage say the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It was conducted amid the collapse of the GOP's health care overhaul. But the poll also found a brighter spot for the businessman-politician on the economy, often a major driver of presidential success or failure. There, Americans split about evenly, with 50 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving of Trump's efforts.”

The Washington Post, on Rex Tillerson: “Eight weeks into his tenure as President Trump’s top diplomat, the former ExxonMobil chief executive is isolated, walled off from the State Department’s corps of bureaucrats in Washington and around the world. His distant management style has created growing bewilderment among foreign officials who are struggling to understand where the United States stands on key issues. It has sown mistrust among career employees at State, who swap paranoid stories about Tillerson that often turn out to be untrue. And it threatens to undermine the power and reach of the State Department, which has been targeted for a 30 percent funding cut in Trump’s budget.”

From NBC’s Ali Vitali: “President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Friday that is intended to identify the countries the White House considers to be among the top cheaters in trade deals with the U.S., senior administration officials said.”

And/but, from the New York Times: “President Trump, who has called the North American Free Trade Agreement “the worst trade deal” ever signed by the United States, appears to have backed off his threat to abandon the deal and is instead proposing keeping major planks in place when he begins renegotiating it later this year.”

As Trump talks about trade, China is digging in, writes the Wall Street Journal.

OFF TO THE RACES: National Republicans to begin ad blitz in GA-6

GA-6: From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “National Republicans are pouring more resources into Georgia’s special election to counter Democrat Jon Ossoff’s candidacy, with a TV ad blitz launching on Friday and plans to add staffers and open new offices in the suburban Atlanta district. The National Republican Congressional Committee’s ad makes no mention of Ossoff, but warns that “Nancy Pelosi and liberal politicians are flooding into Georgia to try and stop our Republican majority that’s getting things done.” New radio and digital ads are next. And the Republican National Committee plans to add nine additional staffers to the six already fanned out across the district, which spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb, to try to fend off an Ossoff upset victory in the April 18 special election.

Republicans are scrambling as they concede that Ossoff is well-positioned going into the race, POLITICO reports.

MT-AL: The Missoulian reports on Democrat Rob Quist’s latest salvos against Republican Greg Gianforte.

The Congressional Leadership Fund is on the air promoting Gianforte.

TX-SEN: POLITICO sums up how Democrats are targeting Ted Cruz in 2018.