IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

First Read's Morning Clips: Divider-in-Chief Turns His Focus to Sports

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: President Donald Trump greets Strange on stage after speaking to supporters.
President Donald Trump greets Strange on stage after speaking to supporters.Andrea Morales / for NBC News

TRUMP AGENDA: Divider-in-chief turns his focus to sports

Peter Baker, in the New York Times: “Never in modern times has an occupant of the Oval Office seemed to reject so thoroughly the nostrum that a president’s duty is to bring the country together. Relentlessly pugnacious, energized by a fight, unwilling to let any slight go unanswered, Mr. Trump has made himself America’s apostle of anger, its deacon of divisiveness.”

An ABC News/Washington Post poll out over the weekend showed that two-thirds of Americans say Trump is doing more to divide the country than to unite it.

NBC’s Jonathan Allen sums up the weekend’s reaction to Trump’s comments about professional athletes who kneel during the National Anthem: “President Donald Trump is getting exactly what he wanted from a racially charged confrontation with professional athletes and sports team owners: A morale boost for his base and a fight with those who see the refusal to stand for the National Anthem as an appropriate form of dissent.”

Dante Chinni and Sally Bronston note that Trump’s poll boost was coming from within his own base.

Leigh Ann Caldwell has the latest on the updated Graham-Cassidy bill. “An updated version of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill circulating among lobbyists and on Capitol Hill on Sunday night has changed to provide more benefits to Alaska, a move to appeal to Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been highly skeptical of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The new version would grandfather Native Alaskans into Medicaid so they wouldn't lose coverage after the expanded Medicaid program is rolled back in 2020, according to a section-by-section summary of the new legislation obtained by an industry lobbyist (PDF). The update would also carve out a special provision for states with low population densities so that 5 percent of federal funds would be guaranteed for rural states, including Alaska.”

More from the Washington Post: “The Cassidy-Graham legislation would overhaul the ACA by lumping together the current law’s spending on insurance subsidies and expanded Medicaid and redistributing it to states in the form of block grants. Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period, according to a summary obtained by The Post. The plan was distributed among Republicans late Sunday, with party leaders just one “no” vote away from defeat and as Republican senators from across the political spectrum were distancing themselves from the prior draft.”

A new ad from Save My Care is keeping the heat on senators as they return to Washington for a health care vote.

More than 3,000 interfaith leaders – including Sister Simone Campbell and Bishop William Barber II – signed a letter opposing the Graham-Cassidy bill. “The Graham-Cassidy proposal would cause millions to lose health coverage, and people experiencing vulnerability, sickness, and poverty would be hit the hardest,” they write.

Puerto Rico’s governor says the island needs more federal help.

NBC’s Pete Williams explains last night’s news on the travel ban: “President Donald Trump banned or restricted visas for travel to the United States from eight countries on Sunday, the next step in what began as his travel ban from six Muslim nations, which expires Sunday. The new presidential order keeps restrictions on five of those six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — lifts restrictions on visitors from the Sudan and adds new restrictions on visitors and immigrants from Chad, North Korea and Venezuela… Rather than continue blanket bans, the administration said the new standards would be tailored to each country, based on factors like whether countries share information about travelers' criminal histories or use electronic passports with embedded traveler information. The government would consider lifting restrictions on one or more countries if they "have improved their identity-management and information-sharing protocols and procedures," according to the proclamation.”

First in POLITICO: “Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business. Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, according to four people familiar with the correspondence. POLITICO has seen and verified about two dozen emails.”

Barack Obama tried to warn Mark Zuckerberg about Russia spreading fake news on Facebook.

The Washington Post: “White House officials and Republican leaders are preparing a set of broad income and corporate tax cuts while also looking for a way to keep their plan from being a massive windfall for the wealthiest Americans, two people familiar with the plan said. Party leaders are quietly circulating proposals to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, according to the people familiar with the plan. White House advisers are divided over whether to cut the top individual tax rate, and Republican leaders, aware the plan could be construed as a huge giveaway to the wealthy, are trying to design features to the package that would ensure that the rich don't get too large a share of the plan's tax relief.”

Don’t miss this news abroad, from Reuters: “Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives beat their rivals on Sunday to win her a fourth term in an election that will have brought a far-right party into Germany's parliament for the first time in more than half a century. After shock election results last year, from Britain's vote to leave the European Union to the election of President Donald Trump, many look to Merkel to rally a bruised liberal Western order, tasking her with leading a post-Brexit Europe.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Loving Trump, but not voting for his candidate?

AL-SEN: The Washington Post, summing up the Alabama race: GOP voters there love Donald Trump, but they still might not vote for his candidate.

POLITICO: “The White House and senior Republicans are deeply worried about Sen. Luther Strange's chances in Tuesday’s GOP runoff here — even after unleashing the full weight of the party machinery to stop his opponent, flame-throwing conservative Roy Moore… If [Moore] comes out ahead on Tuesday, mainstream Republicans worry it would instigate a broader offensive by the activist right to unseat other GOP incumbents in the 2018 midterms.”

Nigel Farage is campaigning for Roy Moore along with Steve Bannon, while Mike Pence will hit the trail for Strange.

VA-GOV: A new poll from the Wasson Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University shows Northam leading Gillespie 47 percent to 41 percent.