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First Read's Morning Clips: Obama Heads to the Hill

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day.
Image: Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room
President Barack Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 16, 2016.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

TRUMP AGENDA: Obama heads to the Hill

The AP: “President Barack Obama is traveling to the Capitol to give congressional Democrats advice on how to combat the Republican drive to dismantle his health care overhaul. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is meeting with GOP lawmakers to discuss the best way to send Obama's cherished law to its graveyard and replace it with — well, something. The separate strategy sessions were coming on the second day of the new, GOP-led Congress. In 16 days, Republican Donald Trump replaces Obama at the White House, putting the party's longtime goal of annulling much of the 2010 health care overhaul within reach.”

From the RNC: “Under ObamaCare, Americans are facing rising premiums, unaffordable deductibles, fewer insurance choices, and higher taxes to pay for skyrocketing costs. Obama repeatedly promised that his health care policies would bring down costs, allow Americans to keep their doctors and their health plans, increase competition amongst insurers, and wouldn’t increase taxes on the middle class – all promises that he subsequently broke.”

NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell outlines Republicans’ long, hard road to repealing and replacing Obamacare.

From the Wall Street Journal: “The White House said that Mr. Obama will rally Democrats on Capitol Hill behind some of the broadly popular parts of the law, which include a ban on excluding people from coverage due to with pre-existing medical conditions and a provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents insurance plans until age 26. Republicans have vowed to keep those measures in place but will likely need to find alternative ways to pay for them.”

The Washington Post outlines yesterday’s roller coaster of ethics oversight flips on Capitol Hill.

From the New York Times: “House Republicans, on the verge of a Washington takeover as the new Congress convened Tuesday, couldn’t stop themselves from trying to dilute the power of a despised ethics watchdog as their first order of business. In the process, they created an unsightly spectacle that pretty much ruined an opening-day celebration of unified Republican government, undermined their own leadership and perhaps foretold the shape of things to come.”

POLITICO also has a tick-tock of what went wrong.

TRUMP TRANSITION WATCH: Trump sides with Assange, not U.S. intel community

Trump tweeted last night: "The 'Intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!" And this morning, he says: “Julian Assange said "a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta" - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”

The Washington Post: “A U.S. official disputed that there had been any delay in delivering the briefing that Trump requested on Russia, saying that high-level U.S. intelligence officials are scheduled to meet with the president-elect in New York on Friday. The official said that Trump did receive a regular intelligence briefing on Tuesday, and raised the possibility of confusion on the part of his transition team or schedulers. “It's possible that his team has some scheduling disconnect” and that “whatever he received today didn't meet his expectations,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters. But, the official said, the fuller briefing on Russia's alleged election hacking was never scheduled to occur Tuesday, and that plans for a fuller Friday briefing have been in place for several days.”

From POLITICO: “The Obama administration has a new problem with its high-profile smackdown of Russia for cyberattacks: False positives. The hyped — and quickly deflated — news reports alleging Kremlin-backed hacking of the U.S. electric grid have stoked fears among cyber specialists that a flurry of false accusations against Russia will follow, as U.S. companies respond to the administration's request that they search for possible Russian-linked cyberattacks on their systems. And those easily debunked tales could sow doubts about all hacking allegations against Russia — undermining the administration's arguments that it has solid evidence Vladimir Putin's regime used digital mischief to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”

Is Trump right to point the finger at China for not reining in North Korea?

“The choice of Robert Lighthizer to be the United States’ trade representative nearly completes Mr. Trump’s selection of top economic advisers and, taken together with the president-elect’s running commentary on Twitter, underscores Mr. Trump’s focus on making things in America. That is causing unease among some Republicans who regard Mr. Trump’s views on trade as dangerously retrograde, even as they embrace the bulk of his economic agenda,” writes the New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal: “Exxon Mobil Corp. has awarded former Chief Executive Rex Tillerson a $180 million retirement package as the company moves to break financial ties with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state.”

The Clintons will attend the inauguration, aides tell NBC News.

DEM WATCH: Deval Patrick vs. Jeff Sessions

Onetime NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is lobbying against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General. In a letter to top lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick describes representing an Alabama civil rights activist in 1985, saying that then-US attorney Sessions pursued the case in “an act of extraordinary quasi-judicial activism.” More from the letter: “At a time when our Nation is so divided, when so many people feel so deeply that their lived experience is unjust, Mr. Sessions is the wrong person to place in charge of our Justice System.”

From the Washington Post: “The Democratic National Committee is building a “war room” to battle President-elect Donald Trump, pressure the new Republican administration on a variety of policy matters and train a spotlight on Russia's alleged cyberattacks to influence the 2016 election.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats will fight almost any Trump Supreme Court nominee.

“Lawmakers in several deep-blue states want to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in those states, a sharp rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump's ongoing refusal to make his tax records public,” writes the Washington Post. “A pair of Maryland Democrats on Tuesday announced they would introduce a bill mandating the release of five years of tax returns, mirroring similar proposals in New York, Massachusetts, California and Maine.”