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OBAMA AGENDA: What to expect in Obama’s 8:00 pm ET announcement

The latest details on the president's immigration announcement, via the New York Times: "Up to four million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years can apply for a program that protects them from deportation and allows those with no criminal record to work legally in the country, President Obama is to announce on Thursday, according to people briefed on his plans. An additional one million people will get protection from deportation through other parts of the president’s plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration enforcement system, including the expansion of an existing program for “Dreamers,” young immigrants who came to the United States as children. There will no longer be a limit on the age of the people who qualify."

The Washington Post notes that the move will be a challenge for both parties, and that the fallout will depend "on whether Americans focus on the merits of the policy or on the president’s audacious means of achieving it."

Bill Clinton says Obama is on "pretty firm legal ground" on his executive action announcement.

What's really changed since the election? Not much, shows our new NBC News/ WSJ numbers. More, from one of us(!)

Reports the Washington Post: "CIA Director John Brennan is considering sweeping organizational changes that could include breaking up the separate spying and analysis divisions that have been in place for decades to create hybrid units focused on individual regions and threats to U.S. security, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said. The proposal would essentially replicate the structure of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and other similar entities in the agency — an idea that reflects the CTC’s expanded role and influence since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks."

From the Associated Press: " Dissenters within the National Security Agency, led by a senior agency executive, warned in 2009 that the program to secretly collect American phone records wasn't providing enough intelligence to justify the backlash it would cause if revealed, current and former intelligence officials say. The NSA took the concerns seriously, and many senior officials shared them. But after an internal debate that has not been previously reported, NSA leaders, White House officials and key lawmakers opted to continue the collection and storage of American calling records, a domestic surveillance program without parallel in the agency's recent history."

The New York Times, on the battle for Kobani: "For Washington, Kobani is a crucial public test of President Obama’s strategy of combining American air power with local ground forces. For the Islamic State, it is a test of its image of inevitability and invincibility, and a tool for recruiting jihadists. But of all those with an interest in Kobani, there is arguably no party as invested as the fractious Kurdish diaspora, which has pulled together in the hope of creating a homeland among the rolling farms and pistachio orchards that are still technically part of Syria."

CONGRESS: Pallone defeats Pelosi ally

Notes NBC's Alex Moe: "Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey has won a contested vote to lead House Democrats on a key energy panel, defeating a close ally of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi."

"A U.S. Senate report on commodity-market activities at big Wall Street banks accuses the firms of being so powerful they were able to influence prices, gain trading advantages and put the broader financial system at risk by entering volatile businesses such as uranium trading and coal production," writes the Wall Street Journal.

Some big-name Cantor alumni are starting a new government affairs shop called Harbinger Strategies. Steve Stombres (Cantor’s former Chief), Kyle Nevins (Cantor’s former Deputy Chief and Floor Director) and John O’Nell announced the formation of the D.C. firm Wednesday.

Roll Call reports that senators who are up for reelection in 2016 are saying they won't shut down the government over immigration.

OFF TO THE RACES: Webb dives into 2016

So it begins. Jim Webb, a former Democratic senator from Virginia and Secretary of the Navy, announced overnight that he is launching a presidential exploratory committee. A lengthy rationale for his run is here, on new website

From one of us(!): "For all the preparation and jockeying for the 2016 presidential campaign that’s taken place more than a year before the nomination process formally begins, most of the top White House contenders aren’t enjoying high ratings among the American public. Even the most positively-viewed potential candidates getting nearly as much opposition as support, according to the latest NBC News/WSJ poll. And, in a deeply polarized political climate, none of more than a dozen potential candidates asked about in the poll are close to having significant crossover appeal with the opposite political party."

Mark Leibovich spends time with a nacho-munching Chris Christie. "Obscured by the ambition, loose-cannon personality and, frankly, the girth, is the fact that he is an exceptionally gifted and nuanced politician. He has a preternatural talent for appearing blunt and insistent when he is being cute and obfuscating. He is also a savvy tactician. If Barack Obama were not a politician, you could imagine him being a law professor; Mitt Romney would be in business. If Christie were not a politician, he would be perfectly exhilarated to work as a political operative."

CALIFORNIA: The Sacramento Bee: "More than two weeks after polls closed, Rep. Ami Bera won a second term to represent a seat covering suburban Sacramento County, denying Republican challenger Doug Ose a return to Washington and ending the California GOP’s chances of unseating its first Democratic House incumbent since 1994. Bera, an Elk Grove physician, trailed Ose by more than 3,000 votes at the close of election night and steadily closed the gap before surging to a 700-vote advantage last week, as county election officials tallied tens of thousands of remaining ballots. He led Wednesday by 1,432 votes with nearly all ballots counted.”

LOUISIANA: Freedom Partners is invoking the Jonathan Gruber comments in an anti-Landrieu ad.

TEXAS: Rick Perry says Texas may sue Barack Obama over his executive action on immigration.


*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Attorney/USA Today Columnist Raul Reyes on President Obama’s immigration announcement; The Miami Herald’s Tallahassee Bureau Chief, Mary Ellen Klas on the FSU shooting; Jennifer Schram a woman trapped by the snow in upstate New York; and in our exclusive Born in the U$A series: Steve Bock, CEO of Shinola –an American luxury goods brand bringing jobs to Detroit.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Sen.-elect Gary Peters, Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver, msnbc’s Jose Diaz-Balart and Kasie Hunt, NBC’s Sarah Dallof and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Ruth Marcus.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.