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First Read's Morning Clips: White House vs. Bannon

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon speaks during a campaign rally for Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Judge Roy Moore in Midland City
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon speaks during a campaign rally for Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Judge Roy Moore on December 11, 2017 in Midland City, Alabama.Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

TRUMP AGENDA: White House vs. Bannon

From NBC’s Jonathan Allen: “Steve Bannon is on the run, and his guerrilla war against the Republican establishment is on the verge of being extinguished after his political patron, Donald Trump, accused him Wednesday of having "lost his mind" and of being "only in it for himself." In a stunning 266-word statement of rebuke against his former campaign aide and White House strategist, a clearly infuriated Trump echoed and expanded on the criticisms that establishment Republicans have leveled against Bannon since he took over the Trump campaign in August 2016.”

And then there’s this: “Late Wednesday an attorney for Trump threatened Bannon with legal action, accusing him of violating written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements by talking to Wolff for the book. Lawyer Charles J. Harder said Bannon's actions "give rise to numerous legal claims including defamation by libel and slander." In the letter, Harder advised Bannon to stop discussing Trump or his family with any journalists, authors or bloggers.”

The Washington Post looks back at the origins of Bannon’s relationship with Trump.

“Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a lawsuit against special counsel Robert Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Justice Department in federal court on Wednesday, arguing that the investigation that charged him is operating outside the law,” write NBC’s Julia Ainsley and Tracy Connor. “In a complaint filed in federal court in Washington, Manafort also disclosed that the Justice Department and FBI were looking into his overseas lobbying work in 2014 while assisting the Ukrainian government in "locating stolen assets."

NBC’s Adam Edelman sums up the biggest revelations from Michael Wolff’s new book on the Trump White House here.

New year, new start? Not for Trump, writes the AP.

In POLITICO: “Lawmakers concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior. In private meetings with more than a dozen members of Congress held on Dec. 5 and 6, Lee briefed lawmakers — all Democrats except for one Republican senator, whom Lee declined to identify. Her professional warning to Capitol Hill: “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.’”

Top officials from DOJ and the FBI met with Paul Ryan behind closed doors yesterday. Per the Washington Post: “Top federal law enforcement officials huddled with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a request from congressional investigators for documents related to a dossier alleging connections between President Trump and Russia, according to people familiar with the meeting, and hours later, a deal was apparently reached.”

Trump abruptly shut down his voter fraud commission, citing legal battles and a lack of cooperation from states.

Will 2018 be the year of protectionism? The New York Times: “So far, the president’s actions on trade have been more moderate than his campaign speeches suggested. Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from a Pacific Rim trade pact and opened other, existing trade deals to renegotiations. But he has yet to impose any of the broad tariffs that he has argued are necessary to give American companies a fair shot in a global economy.”

The Wall Street Journal reports on how immigration issues are complicating the budget talks.

OFF TO THE RACES: Random drawing takes place in that tied Virginia race

POLITICO, on the Bannon fallout: “With a single statement from President Donald Trump, former White House strategist Steve Bannon has gone from kingmaker to political liability. After his ouster from the White House late last summer, Republican Senate candidates of all stripes sought the backing of the Breitbart chairman and his affiliated political group, the Great America Alliance. The thinking was that an endorsement from Bannon would provide an implicit Trump seal of approval, even if the president himself couldn’t or wouldn’t wade into a Republican primary battle. But Trump’s evisceration of Bannon on Wednesday — after his former ally said in an upcoming book that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian operatives was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” — has freed GOP candidates who didn’t win Bannon’s backing to slam those who did as disloyal to the president.”

CA-GOV: Nope, Jackie Speier isn’t running for governor.

NY-GOV: “With a re-election campaign and potentially treacherous political terrain ahead, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo laid out his 2018 agenda on Wednesday, painting a portrait of a state battling the effects of terrorism, sexual harassment and opioid addiction, and under siege from the Trump administration,” writes the New York Times of how 2018 will pit Cuomo against Trump in the state.

NH: Worth keeping an eye on, via WMUR: “The New Hampshire Senate Wednesday voted along party lines to pass legislation that would tighten the state’s voting registration law to ensure that only residents can vote in the Granite State… The bill makes the change by changing definitions to make the terms “resident,” “inhabitant” and “domicile” consistent. The bill would change the eligibility requirements for voting and running for office in the state and would mean that students and others who claim New Hampshire as a domicile but are residents of other states could no longer vote in New Hampshire.”

VA: “A Virginia court on Wednesday rejected a legal challenge to its decision to count a contested ballot that tied a closely watched state House of Delegates race, clearing the way for election officials to randomly pick the winner in accordance with state law,” writes NBC’s Dartunorro Clark. “James Alcorn, the chairman of the Virginia Board of Elections, told NBC News on Wednesday the board will randomly select a winner in the tied House of Delegates race on Thursday morning after initially postponing the drawing in the wake of the legal challenge.”

More, in the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Under state law, whoever loses the draw can request a second recount. Republican leaders signaled last week that they don’t intend to seat Simonds if she wins and Yancey asks for a recount. That scenario could set up another legal and parliamentary battle, with Simonds trying to take her place in the House and Republicans trying to block her to allow a second recount, which would give the GOP a 50-49 majority on the opening day of House business.”