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First Read's Morning Clips: Bannon All In for Roy Moore

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Roy Moore
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore speaks to the media during a news conference in Montgomery, Alabama, on Aug. 8. Brynn Anderson / AP

TRUMP AGENDA: President defends pardoning Arpaio

NBC’s Andrew Rafferty sums up Trump’s press conference yesterday, including his defense of the Arpaio pardon.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tells the Washington Post's Greg Sargent: “The purpose for which the pardon was granted — to a political supporter of the birther movement — sends a message that if you have the president’s back, if you’re one of his supporters, he won’t necessarily wait until the end of a criminal case to give you a pardon,” Schiff told me. “He is telegraphing to anyone involved in his political campaign that as long as they stick with him, the possibility of a pardon is open, just the way it was for Arpaio.”

David Brooks in the New York Times: “[T]he Republican Party has changed since 2005. It has become the vehicle for white identity politics. In 2005 only six percent of Republicans felt that whites faced “a great deal” of discrimination, the same number of Democrats who felt this. By 2016, the percentage of Republicans who felt this had tripled.”

NBC News: “Federal investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are keenly focused on President Donald Trump's role in crafting a response to a published article about a meeting between Russians and his son Donald Jr., three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. The sources told NBC News that prosecutors want to know what Trump knew about the meeting and whether he sought to conceal its purpose.”

The New York Times: “A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency. The associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Mr. Putin and predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would highlight Mr. Trump’s savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon to his candidacy.”

Cohen tells NBC: "To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Trump was never in contact with anyone about this proposal other than me on three occasions, including signing a non-binding letter of intent in 2015."

And from the Washington Post: “A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Vladi­mir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress Monday. Michael Cohen, a Trump attorney and executive vice president for the Trump Organization, sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide.”

POLITICO notes that Trump has been unusually silent in the wake of criticism from some of his aides.

The AP: “George W. Bush never recovered from his flyover of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. Barack Obama got a bipartisan boost late in his re-election campaign for his handling of Superstorm Sandy. Now, President Donald Trump confronts the political risks and potential gains that come with leading the federal government’s response to a deadly and destructive natural disaster. Hurricane Harvey, the massive storm that has dumped torrents of rain across Texas — flooding Houston and other cities — is the first major natural disaster of Trump’s presidency, and the yet-to-be-determined scope of the damage appears likely to require a years-long federal project.”

Ted Cruz spoke to MSNBC about his 2013 vote against a Superstorm Sandy relief bill.

What was North Korea up to with its missile launch yesterday? The Washington Post: “North Korea’s latest missile launch seemed, as Stephan Haggard of the University of California at San Diego described it, ‘perfectly calibrated to create political mischief.’ The missile launched early Tuesday appeared to be a Hwasong-12, the intermediate-range ballistic missile that North Korea has been threatening to shoot into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam. But North Korea didn’t shoot it southeast toward Guam. Instead, it lobbed the missile in a northeasterly direction, over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. This enabled it to send a strong political signal and to glean valuable technical data on its rapidly advancing missile program, without overtly crossing a “red line” and spurring the United States into action, analysts said.”

The New York Times: “Two Bankers Are Selling Trump’s Tax Plan. Is Congress Buying?”

OFF TO THE RACES: Bannon goes all-in for Roy Moore

AL-SEN: “The Foundation for Moral Law, a nonprofit run by Kayla Moore -- the wife of U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore -- may be violating its tax-exempt status by posting Moore's campaign ads and articles about Moore's campaign, according to attorneys who specialize in nonprofit tax law who spoke to”

Steve Bannon is all in for Roy Moore, going head-to-head with Mitch McConnell and Trump.

AZ-SEN: NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard: “Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, newly pardoned by President Donald Trump, left the door open Monday to running against Sen. Jeff Flake in next year's Arizona GOP primary. “I haven’t made any decision to run for office or what office,” Arpaio told NBC News.”

FL-GOV: The leading Democratic candidates for governor in Texas all say that Confederate statues should be removed from public places in Florida.

FL-SEN: It’d be a tight race between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott, a new poll finds.

IL-GOV: “Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law Monday designed to protect Illinois’ half-million undocumented immigrants from deportation, drawing criticism from the administration of a fellow Republican: President Donald Trump,” writes the Chicago Sun-Times. “The bill, dubbed the TRUST Act, restricts local law enforcement from collaborating with federal immigration agents to detain anyone unless the feds have a warrant.”

NV-SEN: NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell sat down for an exclusive interview with Dean Heller. “Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., distanced himself from President Donald Trump on several prominent policy issues in an interview with NBC News Monday, saying he opposes a government shutdown in order to secure funding for a border wall, does not support potential changes to protections for undocumented children and disagrees with the president's pardoning of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Heller, considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans facing reelection next year, was most outspoken on the pardon for Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt after failing to obey a judge’s order to stop detaining people for suspicion of being undocumented immigrants. “I don’t believe anybody’s above the law,” Heller said of the pardon. “I do believe the courts ought to run its course and let the system work its way through this. But I just don’t believe anybody’s above the law.’”

NY-27: The Buffalo News reports that the House Committee on Ethics confirms that it’s probing Chris Collins and his stock trades.

PA-SEN: Republican Lou Barletta announced Tuesday morning that he’s running for Senate against Bob Casey.