First Read's Morning Clips: Another Trump-Russia Bombshell Story

Image: Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump
Donald Trump Jr., left, speaks as his brother Eric looks on during speeches at the grand opening of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, Canada, on Feb. 28.Jonathan Hayward / AP

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TRUMP AGENDA: Another Trump-Russia bombshell story

The weekend’s big Trump/Russia story, in the New York Times: “President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it. The meeting was also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times. The Times reported the existence of the meeting on Saturday. But in subsequent interviews, the advisers and others revealed the motivation behind it.”

Here’s the full statement released by Trump Jr. on Sunday afternoon: "I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office. The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events."

The New York Times: “President Trump tried without success on Sunday to put the matter of Russia’s election meddling behind him, insisting that he had “strongly pressed” President Vladimir V. Putin on the matter twice in a private meeting last week and declaring that it was “time to move forward.” But if Mr. Trump believed his willingness to raise the election interference directly with Mr. Putin would quiet questions about whether he could be trusted to stand up to Moscow — an issue that has shadowed his presidency — he grappled instead on Sunday with the reality that the meeting might have raised more suspicions than it quelled.”

Lawmakers are bewildered by Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. and Russia will partner on a cybersecurity unit.

In an interview with one of us(!), Lindsey Graham called Trump’s meeting with Putin “disastrous.” And former CIA director John Brennan says Trump “ceded” ground to Putin.

POLITICO asks if Trump may have a point when it comes to Obama’s lack of action on Russia during the election.

The Washington Post reports on some of the fallout from the G-20. “President Trump predictably hailed his trip to the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg as a “wonderful success.” In that assessment, he's more or less alone. The fallout of Trump's first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was still being measured on Sunday. The one tangible outcome of the meeting was a limited cease-fire in southern Syria … which swung into effect on Sunday. Otherwise, there was little to show from the confab.”

Leigh Ann Caldwell, with the latest on health care: “When Congress returns to work Monday, Senate Republicans will press forward with their attempt to reform the nation's health care system, an effort that has been hampered for months by internal divisions and an ineffective and inconsistent public relations push.”

The Washington Post notes that Ted Cruz is suddenly in the hot seat as the Senate tries to figure out a health care bill that can pass.

John McCain said that the GOP health bill is “probably going to be dead.”

The Wall Street Journal: “Few people are willing to write Mr. McConnell’s threats off, given his credentials as a smart, tenacious strategist who hates losing—a distaste developed long ago.”

The Washington Post looks into the myth of coal’s dominance in the American energy landscape.

OFF TO THE RACES: Bernie Sanders has a Democratic primary opponent

POLITICO delves into the civil war dividing California’s Democrats.

AL-SEN: From the New York Times: “The special election for a Senate seat in Alabama is, at first glance, a complex affair, with 10 Republican candidates in the party’s primary, at least three of whom could plausibly win, and a possible runoff this fall if nobody can garner a majority when ballots are cast Aug. 15. But under closer examination, the contest may boil down to a single question: How will President Trump respond to the candidate who denounced him for “serial adultery”?”

From “Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Mo Brooks is sticking by his acceptance of an endorsement from a Republican super PAC that got its start by attacking Donald Trump. Courageous Conservatives PAC, based in New Jersey, threw its support behind Brooks on Wednesday.”

The congressional baseball practice shooting may have been a turning point for Brooks, notes.

IA-GOV: Democrat John Norris is running for governor – the sixth Dem to enter the race so far.

IL-GOV: What does the budget battle in Illinois mean for Bruce Rauner’s reelection campaign?

NM-GOV: Republican Rep. Steve Pearce is officially running for governor.

VT-SEN: Alex Seitz-Wald reports on Bernie Sanders’ Democratic opponent — a political novice who says Sanders is responsible for Trump’s election.