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TRUMP AGENDA: Trump sidesteps question about Mueller interview

ICYMI: Trump wouldn't commit yesterday to a face-to-face interview with Mueller.

"One day after a televised meeting between nearly two dozen lawmakers and President Donald Trump, a group of bipartisan senators say they are increasingly optimistic about a deal on a handful of immigration issues that include border security and a solution on the future of thousands of undocumented immigrants currently caught in legal limbo," writes NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell.

And/but: the New York Times reports that House Republicans are taking a hard line on the issue: "Prominent House Republicans stepped forward on Wednesday with a vision of immigration policy that clashed fiercely with President Trump’s recent overtures of bipartisanship and highlighted how difficult it will be for Congress and the president to reach accord in the coming weeks. The proposal, championed by the chairmen of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees, would crack down on illegal immigration and sharply reduce the number of legal immigrants to the United States."

And there's this, via POLITICO: "Democratic leaders are facing a potential revolt within their ranks as they edge toward a deal with Republicans that would protect Dreamers from deportation but also include concessions to conservatives that many Democratic lawmakers say are unacceptable."

From NBC's Jonathan Allen: "Some Democratic House members are planning to invite victims of sexual assault to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address later this month to highlight the issue, according to an aide to a lawmaker who has been a prominent voice on sexual misconduct."

North Korea has new fodder to attack Trump: the new "Fire and Fury" tell-all book.

Here's Roll Call, on today's FISA vote: "The House is set to vote Thursday on a bill to extend the electronic surveillance powers of the National Security Agency. How the House votes could determine whether the bill wins Senate passage for a long-term extension of provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or if lawmakers hit another roadblock and decide to punt again. Facing an impasse before Christmas, Congress passed a short-term extension until Jan. 19. The provisions were due to expire Dec. 31."

"A federal judge ruled late Wednesday in favor of President Donald Trump and the White House over the control of the national financial watchdog agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," the AP notes.

From the Washington Post: "The Trump administration issued guidance to states early Thursday that will allow them to compel people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid for the first time in the half-century history of this pillar of the nation’s social safety net."

Fallout continues after Trump singled out Florida for an exemption from his offshore drilling plan.

And states are also pushing back on the net neutrality rollback, writes the New York Times: "Lawmakers in at least six states, including California and New York, have introduced bills in recent weeks that would forbid internet providers to block or slow down sites or online services. Legislators in several other states, including North Carolina and Illinois, are weighing similar action."

Trump's endorsement of earmarks is shaking things up on Capitol Hill, too, per POLITICO.

Democrats are going it along on the Russia investigation, releasing their own materials amid frustration with Republicans, the Washington Post reports.

OFF TO THE RACES: Retirements galore

POLITICO sums up how the recent rash of Republican retirements is boosting Democratic hopes of retaking the House.

AZ-SEN: Joe Arpaio is reviving the birther controversy and saying that DACA recipients should be deported.

CA-49: Another one down: Darrell Issa won't run for re-election.

MO-GOV: Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is facing a major sex scandal. From KMOV: "Governor Eric Greitens on Wednesday night confirmed to News 4 he had an extramarital affair, an admission a months-long News 4 investigation prompted. In a recording obtained by News 4, a woman says she had a sexual encounter with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and that he tried to blackmail her to keep the encounter quiet... The details were provided to News 4 by the woman’s ex-husband, claiming the sexual relationship happened between his now ex-wife and Greitens in March 2015. News 4 is not naming the woman and she has not made an on-the-record comment about the story. According to the ex-husband, the recording was made just days after Greitens’ and the woman’s first sexual encounter. And also that Greitens took a photograph during the encounter to use as “blackmail” according to the ex-husband."

OH-SEN: "U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci plans to run for U.S. Senate after President Donald Trump's political team urged the Republican to do so. That means Renacci will jump out of the Ohio governor's race, according to Republicans with knowledge of the decision. An announcement is expected Thursday morning... Renacci's move comes after a day of intense jockeying in the Ohio race, which unfolded behind closed doors. "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican who is chairman of the Senate GOP’s campaign committee."