First Read's Morning Clips: CEOs Resign From Trump Council

Image: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Ken Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co., listens during a meeting with representatives from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America at the White House, Jan. 31, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Ken Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co., listens during a meeting with representatives from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America at the White House, Jan. 31, 2017.Ron Sacks / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

TRUMP AGENDA: Three CEOs have left Trump’s manufacturing council

A third CEO – this one from Intel – says he’s leaving a Trump advisory council over the president’s response to Charlottesville.

NBC’s Daniella Silva reports on the continued battle over Confederate monuments nationwide.

FOX News reports: “President Trump may soon issue a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the colorful former Arizona sheriff who was found guilty two weeks ago of criminal contempt for defying a state judge’s order to stop traffic patrols targeting suspected undocumented immigrants. In his final years as Maricopa County sheriff, Arpaio had emerged as a leading opponent of illegal immigration. “I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” the president said Sunday, during a conversation with Fox News at his club in Bedminster, N.J. “He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.” Trump said the pardon could happen in the next few days, should he decide to do so.”

From NBC’s Benjy Sarlin: “Groups and researchers that track hate had sounded the alarm throughout Trump’s campaign and presidency, warning that his rhetoric and actions were empowering the racist fringe. They’re now demanding Trump finally confront a growing threat from hate groups who they say have been energized by his political rise.”

“The far right, which has returned to prominence in the past year or so, has always been an amalgam of factions and causes, some with pro-Confederate or neo-Nazi leanings, some opposed to political correctness or feminism. But the Charlottesville event, the largest of its kind in recent years, exposed the pre-existing fault lines in the movement,” writes the New York Times.

POLITICO’s blunt headline: “Trump plays both sides with Charlottesville response.”

From the Washington Post: “Three days after Donald Trump named his campaign foreign policy team in March 2016, the youngest of the new advisers sent an email to seven campaign officials with the subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership - Including Putin.” The adviser, George Papadopoulos, offered to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” telling them his Russian contacts welcomed the opportunity, according to internal campaign emails read to The Washington Post.”

Via Courtney Kube: “Defense Secretary James Mattis defended his commander in Afghanistan just days after NBC News revealed that President Donald Trump suggested the four-star general be fired during a meeting with his national security team last month.”

Vice President Mike Pence says he “never witnessed” any evidence of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.

The latest on North Korea from the Washington Post: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared to take a step back from the brink of nuclear war Tuesday, when state media reported that he would ‘watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.’ But, as is often the case with North Korea, the message was mixed: Kim was inspecting the missile unit tasked with preparing to strike near Guam, and photos released by state media showed a large satellite image of Andersen Air Force Base on Guam on the screen beside the leader.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Today’s Battle in ‘Bama

AL-SEN: Trump tweeted about Luther Strange again this morning to plug his appearance on FOX, saying “Senator Luther Strange, who is doing a great job for the people of Alabama, will be on @foxandfriends at 7:15. Tough on crime, borders etc.”

Our own team previews the race here.

And POLITICO offers five things to watch tonight.

Almost all the oxygen has been on the GOP side of the race, but offers an introduction to the Democrats running for the seat.

IN-SEN: POLITICO takes a look at the Indiana Senate primary, sure to be one of the nastiest of the cycle. “The slugfest underway between Republican Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita in Indiana isn’t just for the right to compete for possibly the GOP’s best opportunity to seize a Senate seat from Democrats in next year’s midterms. It’s a chance to finally settle the score between two ambitious pols who’ve been vying to outdo one another politically since they graduated from the same small college more than 25 years ago.”

NV-SEN: Dean Heller is facing a new barrage of ads.

OH-GOV: “Billionaire philanthropist Clay Mathile donated $1 million to a super PAC that is backing Republican Jon Husted for governor next year, according to federal campaign finance filings,” writes the Dayton Daily News.

UT-3: Don’t forget that today is also special primary election day in Utah’s third district. Here’s the Deseret News on why it may take a few days for us to know who the GOP nominee is to replace Jason Chaffetz.

And here’s the Washington Post’s preview of the race: “The front-runner for the Republican nomination, according to published polls, is Provo Mayor John Curtis, who has built a pro-business record during 6½ years in office and has attracted support from the party establishment in and around the growing high-tech center south of Salt Lake City. But despite declaring himself “the most conservative mayor that the state’s ever had” in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Curtis’s bona fides have been sharply challenged by former state Rep. Chris Herrod and businessman Tanner Ainge — both of whom have sought to outflank Curtis from the right and have gained on Curtis in recent polls.”