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First Read's Morning Clips: Fusion GPS speaks out

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Journalists gather outside the headquarters of Orbis Business Intelligence, the company run by former intelligence officer Christopher Steele, on Jan. 12 in London.
Journalists gather outside the headquarters of Orbis Business Intelligence, the company run by former intelligence officer Christopher Steele, on Jan. 12 in London.Leon Neal / Getty Images, file

TRUMP AGENDA: Fusion GPS speaks out

Fusion GPS is speaking out in an op-ed in the New York Times: “Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right. It’s time to share what our company told investigators. We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.” sums up Trump’s tweet last night to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un that “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

More, in the New York Times: “The image of a leader with a finger on a button — a trigger capable of launching a world-ending strike — has for decades symbolized the speed with which a nuclear weapon could be launched, and the unchecked power of the person doing the pushing. There is only one problem: There is no button.”

NBC’s Alexander Smith: “Rare talks proposed by both North and South Korea might calm tensions between the neighbors, but don't expect Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear arsenal any time soon, according to experts.” More: “Kim used his annual New Year's Day message to suggest that his officials could meet their Seoul-based counterparts to discuss sending athletes to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month in South Korea. South Korea responded Tuesday by proposing that talks could be held next week in the so-called truce village of Panmunjom, the only place in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas where soldiers from both countries are stationed.”

“Antigovernment protests roiled Iran on Tuesday, as the death toll rose to 21 and the nation’s supreme leader blamed foreign enemies for the unrest. But the protests that have spread to dozens of Iranian cities in the past six days were set off by miscalculations in a long-simmering power struggle between hard-liners and reformers,” reports the New York Times. “By Tuesday, Iran’s leaders could no longer ignore the demonstrations and felt compelled to respond publicly. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, blamed outside “enemies” but did not specify who. President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, appealed for calm while saying the protesters had a right to be heard.”

The Washington Post has the latest on DACA: “President Trump escalated tensions with Democratic leaders Tuesday over the fate of young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers,” claiming the lawmakers are “doing nothing” to protect them from deportation as a key deadline nears, even though last year he ended the Obama-era program that allowed those immigrants to stay in the country. But the Twitter salvo masked a murkier reality as lawmakers returned to Washington: Trump remains open to negotiations on a charged issue that has vexed him since his presidential campaign — and his brash partisanship was widely seen as a nod to his base rather than a sudden turn in the talks.”

And in the New York Times: “Three former homeland security secretaries warned congressional leaders and officials of both parties on Wednesday that the window for legislative action to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children will close by the middle of January, months before a period outlined by the White House. The letter — signed by Jeh Johnson and Janet Napolitano, homeland security secretaries under President Barack Obama, and Michael Chertoff, a homeland security secretary under President George W. Bush — was sent as congressional leaders and aides to President Trump prepare for a meeting on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, where the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is expected to be discussed.”

POLITICO reminds us that the threat of a shutdown is back again.

More, in the Wall Street Journal: “Congressional leaders and senior White House officials will restart negotiations Wednesday afternoon to iron out differences over spending on the Pentagon and other government agencies, with lawmakers hoping to avoid a further series of short-term patches.”

Jane Timm checks out Trump’s claim that his policies resulted in the safest year for aviation on record.

Melania Trump has mostly been seen and not heard in the White House, the Washington Post notes.

OFF TO THE RACES: Tuesday brought two more congressional retirements

AL-SEN: Has the mystery of Roy Moore’s Jewish attorney been solved? In the Washington Post: “Richard Jaffe, a prominent defense lawyer in Alabama, represented Senate candidate Roy Moore’s son Caleb in a drug-possession case in 2016. But Jaffe wasn’t a part of the conservative firebrand’s Senate campaign. Nor is he close to the family. In fact, Jaffe campaigned for the Democrat in the race, Doug Jones, a close friend of his for 30 years.”

PA-9: Bill Shuster is retiring, leaving a fourth seat in Pennsylvania’s delegation open.

TX-SEN: The Cruz campaign says that it has an 18-point advantage over Beto O’Rourke.

UT-SEN: NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald has the story on Sen. Orrin Hatch’s retirement.

POLITICO reports on a conversation between Romney and Trump last month. “The president told Romney that he knew he was thinking about running. But according to one person familiar with the conversation, the details of which have not been reported before, Trump didn’t press the former Massachusetts governor about his thinking or ask why he might be interested in being a senator. Romney’s aides came away convinced the president was trying to suss out Romney’s intentions and position himself as an ally, when he’d been anything but.”

More on Romney’s strength, in the Salt Lake Tribune: “A Salt Lake Tribune poll in October showed Romney running away with the vote in a hypothetical field of eight candidates, including Hatch. Some 44 percent of those surveyed said they’d back Romney, the only other person to earn double digits was Democratic Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson. She got 15 percent while Hatch scored 8 percent.”