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First Read's Morning Clips: Inside that profane White House meeting

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after signing a sweeping tax bill in the Oval Office of the White House.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office on Dec. 22.Doug Mills / The New York Times via Redux Pictures

TRUMP AGENDA: Inside that profane White House meeting

“When President Trump spoke by phone with Sen. Richard J. Durbin around 10:15 a.m. last Thursday, he expressed pleasure with Durbin’s outline of a bipartisan immigration pact and praised the high-ranking Illinois Democrat’s efforts, according to White House officials and congressional aides,” the Washington Post writes. “The president then asked if Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), his onetime foe turned ally, was on board, which Durbin affirmed. Trump invited the lawmakers to visit with him at noon, the people familiar with the call said.

More: “But when they arrived at the Oval Office, the two senators were surprised to find that Trump was far from ready to finalize the agreement. He was “fired up” and surrounded by hard-line conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who seemed confident that the president was now aligned with them, according to one person with knowledge of the meeting.”

At 3:30 pm ET, the Democratic National Committee holds a conference call to discuss the first year of “Trump’s economy.” Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren will participate on the call.

The latest on a possible government shutdown, via the Washington Post: “Chances of a government shutdown grew Monday as Republicans concluded that they would be unable to reach a long-term spending accord by the Friday deadline. GOP leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants. Aides to key negotiators from both parties planned to meet Tuesday in an effort to rekindle budget talks, setting up a Wednesday meeting of the leaders themselves. If they cannot agree, the government would shut down at midnight Friday for the first time since 2013.”

More, via the New York Times: “President Trump’s incendiary words about immigration have dampened the prospects that a broad spending and immigration deal can be reached by the end of the week, raising the possibility of a government shutdown with unknown political consequences for lawmakers in both parties.”

And the Wall Street Journal: “Congressional aides say they are expecting a short-term deal funding the government for a few weeks to come to the table, but caution that is by no means guaranteed. Some said prospects for any deal had diminished because of controversial reported comments last week from President Trump in a meeting with lawmakers about his desire to stop immigration from ‘shithole countries.’”

ICYMI, via Benjy Sarlin: “Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told a South Carolina newspaper on Monday that his "memory hasn’t evolved" about the White House meeting in which President Donald Trump reportedly referred to African nations as "shithole countries." In an interview with The Post and Courier, Graham seemed to challenge the accounts of fellow Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, who attended the bipartisan meeting last Thursday with Graham and have given shifting defenses of the president’s comments. After initially staying quiet, the two Trump-allied lawmakers issued a joint statement the day after the meeting saying they did not “recall” what the president had said. But in separate TV interviews Sunday, they outright denied that Trump had made the comments.”

From NBC’s Julia Ainsley and Rich Gardella: “Four foreign governments, 16 special interest groups and 35 Republican congressional campaign committees spent money at Trump properties in 2017, according to data compiled by the government watchdog group Public Citizen. A lawyer for President-elect Donald Trump outlined a plan during the presidential transition that was meant to resolve concerns about conflicts of interest between his presidency and his businesses. But in a report called "Presidency for Sale," Public Citizen found that Trump properties in Washington, Florida and elsewhere seem to have benefited from Trump's election as groups with something to gain from U.S. policy have paid to stay or dine there more than 60 times.”

“U.S. counterintelligence officials in early 2017 warned Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, could be using her close friendship with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to further the interests of the Chinese government, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “U.S. officials have also had concerns about a counterintelligence assessment that Ms. Murdoch was lobbying for a high-profile construction project funded by the Chinese government in Washington, D.C., one of these people said.”

The House Intelligence Committee will question Hope Hicks along with Steve Bannon and Corey Lewandowski.

Organizers of last year’s women’s march are dealing with competing objectives, writes the New York Times.

“For Businesses, Donald Trump’s First Year Is a Net Success,” the Wall Street Journal headlines.

The Washington Post delves into Kevin McCarthy’s relationship with Donald Trump.

Senate Democrats are one vote shy of overriding the FCC’s decision on net neutrality.

OFF TO THE RACES: Romney criticizes Trump over immigration profanity

There are special elections today in Wisconsin and South Carolina.

POLITICO, on Trump’s discussions about potential Democratic presidential candidates: “Handicapping potential 2020 challengers — however premature the exercise is — has become a favorite pastime for the competitive president, who still regularly rehashes his shock win in the 2016 race.”

MD-SEN: Chelsea Manning says she’s running.

MO-GOV: The latest on the Greitens scandal: “A statewide tour to promote a Trump-style overhaul of Missouri’s tax system has fallen victim to the scandal enveloping Gov. Eric Greitens. But Greitens’ spokesman Parker Briden told the Post-Dispatch on Monday that the embattled chief executive still plans to release details of his tax plan sometime this week… Over the weekend, however, his aides would not reveal his whereabouts, nor would they confirm whether the statewide tax tour was formally canceled.”

NJ-SEN: Phil Murphy will be sworn in today.

NV-GOV: “An internal poll from Republican Adam Laxalt’s gubernatorial campaign shows him well in front of primary opponent Treasurer Dan Schwartz, by a margin of 66 percent to 7 percent. The poll showed Laxalt ahead but in a tighter race for the general election against both major Democratic candidates. It had Laxalt up six points on Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, by a percent margin of 44-38, and ahead of Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani by a percent margin of 45-34.”

TX-GOV: The Texas Tribune: “Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew White raised over $200,000 during the first three weeks of his campaign, while one of his better-known primary opponents, Lupe Valdez, took in a quarter of that over roughly the same period… Valdez and White are two of the more prominent Democratic gubernatorial candidates, a field that totals nine. Their fundraising numbers pale in comparison to those for GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, whose campaign announced last week he has built a record-breaking $43.3 million war chest after raising over $9 million during the second half of 2017.”

UT-SEN: Mitt Romney weighed in on Trump’s language about immigrants, calling it “inconsistent w/ America’s history and antithetical to American values.”