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First Read’s Morning Clips: Dems Flex Their Muscles

TRUMP AGENDA: Dems flex their muscles after spending-bill win

In the Washington Post: “Democrats think they have set the stage to block President Trump’s legislative priorities for years to come by winning major concessions in a spending bill to keep the government open… Democrats’ lopsided victory on the five-month deal, which is likely to be approved this week, means it will be very difficult — if not impossible — for the GOP to exert its will in future budget negotiations, including when it comes to Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint. That’s because Republicans are hopelessly divided over how much to spend on government programs, with a small but vocal minority unwilling to support such measures at all. That has forced Republicans to work with Democrats to avoid politically damaging government shutdowns.”

Here’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Moe on how House Republicans may be gearing up for a health care vote this week, even though it’s not clear they have the votes to pass it.

One of the biggest outstanding issues is pre-existing condition coverage, notes the Wall Street Journal.

POLITICO notes that the health care fight could take a major toll on the rest of Trump’s agenda.

Human rights advocates are increasingly alarmed at Trump’s embrace of authoritarian leaders, writes the Washington Post.

And from the New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s unorthodox overtures — to a nuclear-armed despot who brutally purged his rivals, and an insurgent politician accused of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects — illustrated the president’s confidence in his ability to make deals and his willingness to talk to virtually anyone. Above all, they highlighted his penchant for flouting the norms of diplomacy, no matter his larger aim.”

The Associated Press writes that Trump’s flattering language about Kim Jong Un is confusing American allies.

Sean Spicer says he has no knowledge of plans for Sebastian Gorka to leave the White House.

POLITICO sums up all of yesterday’s odd comments in Trump’s interviews yesterday.

The New York Times, on Ivanka’s role in the West Wing: “Seven months later, Ms. Trump is her father’s all-around West Wing confidante, an adviser whose portfolio appears to have few parameters, making her among the highest-ranking women in a senior staff stocked almost entirely with men. The two trade thoughts from morning until late at night, according to aides. Even though she has no government or policy experience, she plans to review some executive orders before they are signed, according to White House officials. She calls cabinet officials on issues she is interested in, recently asking the United Nations ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, about getting humanitarian aid into Syria. She set up a weekly meeting with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary.”

And the Wall Street Journal, on Jared Kushner: “Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, didn’t identify on his government financial disclosure form that he is currently a part-owner of a real-estate finance startup and has a number of loans from banks on properties he co-owns, according to securities filings. Mr. Kushner’s stake in Cadre—a tech startup that pairs investors with big real-estate projects—means the senior White House official is currently a business partner of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS 0.47% and billionaires including George Soros and Peter Thiel, according to people close to the company.” More: “The Cadre stake is one of many interests—and ties to large financial institutions—that Mr. Kushner didn’t identify on his disclosure form, according to a Wall Street Journal review of securities and other filings. Others include loans totaling at least $1 billion, from more than 20 lenders, to properties and companies part-owned by Mr. Kushner, the Journal found. He has also provided personal guarantees on more than $300 million of the debt, according to the analysis.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Dead heat in GA-6, per poll

FL-GOV: Adam Putnam has made his 2018 gubernatorial campaign in Florida official, and Gwen Graham is widely expected to make an announcement today too.

GA-06: An internal poll conducted by Jon Ossoff’s campaign shows him in a dead heat with Karen Handel, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

MT-AL: With Obama and Clinton out of the picture, Nancy Pelosi is the GOP’s new bogeyman in Montana, writes the AP.

SC-05:Alex Seitz-Wald and one of us(!) preview today’s primary election in South Carolina.

And The State interviews voters about their picks.

VA-GOV: Absentee voting is underway for the June Virginia gubernatorial primary.