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First Read’s Morning Clips: Fire and Fury

TRUMP AGENDA: A war of words — so far

The latest on tensions with North Korea: “North Korea says it is "seriously reviewing" a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles — just hours after President Donald Trump told the regime that any threat to the United States would be met with "fire and fury." A spokesman for the Korean People's Army, in a statement carried by the regime's state-run KCNA news agency on Wednesday (local time), said it was going over "military options to form attack positions" around the U.S. territory in order to "send a stern warning" to the United States. In another statement citing a different military spokesman, North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the United States showed signs of provocation, according to Reuters.”

Ali Vitali sums up Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” from yesterday.

Here’s what Rex Tillerson told reporters en route to Guam this morning. “I think what the President was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jung Un would understand because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language. I think the President just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime that the US has an unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies and I think it was important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part.” More: “I think what the President was just reaffirming is that the United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack and defend our allies and we will do so, so the American people should sleep well at night.”

David Ignatius, in the Washington Post: “If Washington and Beijing manage to stay together in dealing with Pyongyang, the door opens on a new era in which China will play a larger and more responsible role in global affairs, commensurate with its economic power. If the great powers can’t cooperate, the door will slam shut — possibly triggering a catastrophic military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.”

The tensions over North Korea are pressuring global markets, the Wall Street Journal writes.

Why is North Korea threatening Guam? The Atlantic explains.

In USA Today yesterday afternoon: “President Trump has publicly called the widening federal investigation into Russia's election meddling a "witch hunt." But through his lawyer, Trump has sent private messages of "appreciation" to special counsel Robert Mueller. "He appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing,'' Trump's chief counsel John Dowd told USA TODAY in an interview Tuesday. "He asked me to share that with him and that's what I've done.'' … “The president has sent messages back and forth,’’ Dowd said, declining to elaborate further.”

The New York Times sums up the exhaustion in Washington, even during the August break.

Mitch McConnell says Trump has had “excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”

POLITICO: “EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s attacks on mainstream climate science are causing discomfort in a surprising corner — among many of the conservative and industry groups that have cheered his efforts to dismantle Barack Obama’s environmental regulations. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, political groups backed by the Koch brothers and the top lobbying organizations for the coal, oil, natural gas and power industries are among those so far declining to back Pruitt’s efforts to undermine the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, according to more than a dozen interviews by POLITICO. Some advocates privately worry that the debate would politically harm moderate Republicans, while wasting time and effort that’s better spent on the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory rollback.”

The New York Times notes that Israelis are starting to contemplate life after Netanyahu: “[W]ith one of Mr. Netanyahu’s closest former aides having turned state’s witness in two cases involving suspicions of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, Israelis across the political spectrum are trying on the idea of the curtain coming down on Mr. Netanyahu’s durable political career.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Trump endorses Strange in Alabama

The AP, on how Republicans could face trouble from insurgent primary candidates.

AL-SEN: Donald Trump endorsed Luther Strange via Twitter last night: “Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama. He has my complete and total endorsement!”

Mo Brooks is responding this morning, accusing Mitch McConnell of “misleading” the president. "I respect President Trump, but I am baffled and disappointed Mitch McConnell and the Swamp somehow misled the President into endorsing Luther Strange.”

Another new poll shows Roy Moore in a strong position to make the runoff election next week, with Strange and Brooks battling for the other slot.

Turnout in next week’s election is expected to be low.

KS-GOV: The AP: “Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer confirmed Tuesday that he will seek a full, four-year term as Kansas governor next year after he assumes the office upon Gov. Sam Brownback's departure for an ambassador's post.”

IN-SEN: Rep. Todd Rokita is officially in. The AP sums up the contentious primary: “Republican Todd Rokita is taking aim at "lobbyists, bureaucrats, politicians and the media" as he prepares to launch his campaign for Senate in Indiana, a race that has already sparked an intraparty feud with congressional colleague Luke Messer. Rokita's campaign provided the Associated Press with a copy of a digital ad that contains the remarks ahead of the congressman's planned kickoff announcement Wednesday morning at the Statehouse. The ad urges voters in the state that overwhelmingly backed President Donald Trump to "take the next step" and "defeat the elite." Mike Braun, a wealthy Republican state representative, announced Tuesday that he would face off against the two congressmen in the GOP primary. The winner will try to unseat Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2018.

MT-AL: Greg Gianforte has his first Democratic challenger.

NV-SEN: Here’s the Nevada Independent with the full picture on Heller’s primary challenge from Danny Tarkanian.

NY-GOV: Andrew Cuomo could face a significant primary hurdle next year, with multiple Democrats — including possibly actress Cynthia Nixon — in the mix.

TX-GOV: Democrats have a problem in the Lone Star State: They don’t have anyone to run for governor.

VA-GOV: A VCU poll shows Northam leading Gillespie 42 percent to 37 percent.