First Read Flash: Can you hear me now?

Updated

Secret surveillance? The Guardian scoops that the National Security Agency has been collection telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order obtained in April. The order required Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to hand over to the NSA information on all telephone calls. “The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.” NBC News reports the White House is “defending the practice of gathering phone records from American citizens while neither confirming nor denying” the report, with a senior Obama administration official saying the information has been “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.”

House in session. House Republicans are vowing to expand the playing field in a new memo National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden sent to the House Republican Conference on Wednesday night. “Washington Democrats started the year with a pretty brash attitude about retaking the majority,” Walden writes. “But halfway through 2013, House Democrats face a much more daunting challenge than winning Republican districts – they are actually struggling on their own turf.” The NRCC cites new automated polling from GOP firm Harper Polling showing them leading in three Democratic held districts –  GOP challenger Brian Nestande up three points over freshman Democrat Raul Ruiz in California’s 36th District; former Rep. Bob Dold leading Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider in a re-match in Illinois’s 10th District by five points; and Rep. Bill Enyart trailing Republican Mike Bost by six points in Illinois’s 12th District. And a Tarrance Group poll in California’s 52nd Distirct shows Republican Carl DeMaio up 10 points over freshman Democrat Scott Peters. Read the full memo here.

Immigration crumble? Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “said Wednesday that there will not be enough votes in the House to pass the Senate’s immigration bill as it is currently written even if the legislation can find the 60 votes it will need in the upper chamber,” and the lead GOP sponsor’s comments  ”came shortly before Rep. Raul Labrador, an Idaho conservative who has been working on immigration in the House, said he will no longer be a part of an eight-person bipartisan working group that had recently hit snags in negotiations,” NBC News reports. Rubio: “I can tell you that the bill as currently structured is not going to pass in the House. And I think it’s going to struggle to pass in the Senate.”

First Read Flash: Can you hear me now?

Updated