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First Read’s Morning Clips: Doug Jones Airs First TV Ad

TRUMP AGENDA: GOP lawmakers avoid entering Trump-vs.-Corker fray

This is getting to be a familiar refrain, via the Washington Post: “Senate Republicans on Monday avoided weighing in on the fiery fracas between President Trump and Sen. Bob Corker, and aides and allies of those lawmakers privately worried that a prolonged fight would hurt the GOP’s already threatened legislative priorities.”

And from the New York Times: “President Trump’s latest rupture with a Republican senator has widened the schism with his own party on Capitol Hill, potentially jeopardizing the future of his legislative agenda even as he presses lawmakers to approve deep tax cuts, according to veteran Republicans and independent analysts.”

And from POLITICO: “[I]nterviews with ten current and former administration officials, advisers, longtime business associates and others close to Trump describe a process where they try to install guardrails for a president who goes on gut feeling – and many days are spent managing the president, just as Corker said.”

The Wall Street Journal notes that the president is a man without a party.

Here’s Trump to Forbes, on Tillerson’s reported “moron” comments: “I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win."

From NBC’s Jonathan Allen: “President Donald Trump's sweeping new immigration-control plan has landed with a soft thud on Capitol Hill, where it threatens to divide Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., didn't issue a statement on it. A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said only that lawmakers would "review these principles" and consult with the administration. And several Republican lawmakers declined NBC News' requests for comment on the plan, which would increase detention and deportation of unaccompanied minors and undocumented workers, restrict legal immigration to the United States, and fund the construction of a border wall that Trump has long insisted would be paid for by Mexico.”

What does Trump’s suggestion of an executive order on health care mean? POLITICO: “The president did not immediately indicate what specific changes he plans to order to the nation’s healthcare system, although he has suggested in recent weeks that an executive order allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines would be forthcoming. Clarity on a timeline for those changes, beyond that they will happen “fast,” was also not immediately offered by the president.”

From Vanity Fair, on John Kelly: “The next few weeks will surely test Trump and Kelly’s relationship. As Kelly seeks to revive Trump’s stalled tax plan, prevent the Iran nuclear deal from falling apart, and avoid war with North Korea, he’ll also face the challenge of having to manage Trump at Mar-a-Lago. According to two sources, Kelly has developed a Mar-a-Lago strategy to prevent Trump from soliciting advice from members and friends.”

The Washington Post, on the storm inside the White House: “Frustrated by his Cabinet and angry that he has not received enough credit for his handling of three successive hurricanes, President Trump is now lashing out, rupturing alliances and imperiling his legislative agenda, numerous White House officials and outside advisers said Monday.”

POLITICO notes that Ivanka Trump is hoping for a policy win on the child tax credit.

“Even as President Donald Trump’s advisers encourage him to accept the realities of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, longtime friends and allies are pushing Trump to fight back, citing concerns that his lawyers are naive to the existential threat facing the president,” writes the Associated Press. “Trump supporters and associates inside and outside the White House see the conciliatory path as risky to the maverick president’s tenure. Instead, they want the street-fighting tweeter to criticize Mueller with abandon.”

The New York Times has a look at how Russia used social media platforms to amplify American divisions.

“After nearly nine months of the Trump administration, many of America’s closest allies have concluded that a hoped-for “learning curve” they thought would make President Trump a reliable partner is not going to happen. “The idea that he would inform himself, and things would change, that is no longer operative,” said a top diplomat here,” writes the Washington Post.

Via the AP: “The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Doug Jones airs first TV ad in Alabama race

The Washington Post looks at how Democratic groups are trying to harvest opposition to Trump.

And POLITICO writes that some Senate Democrats see a narrow path to win back the majority. “Senate Democrats, once all but resigned to staying in the minority until at least 2020, say the door to retaking the chamber in next year’s midterms has cracked — just barely — if everything breaks their way. And instead of boasting about how many more seats they’re about to pick up, Republicans are now pondering the once-unthinkable possibility of losing the Senate, and with it, the ability to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominees.”

AL-SEN: Roy Moore’s son has been charged with criminal trespassing after a hunting dispute last year. “The charge is related to Moore's November 2016 arrest for hunting without permission and hunting over bait, which are both misdemeanors. Barton said the land owner in that case signed for a warrant for trespassing. This is the ninth time Moore has been placed in jail. He was arrested for drug possession in Troy in 2015. Those charges were dropped last year after he agreed to enter a pre-trial diversion program with the Pike County District Attorney's Office, court records show. He has also faced charges of driving under the influence in both Alabama and Florida, and three drug-related arrests in Baldwin, Pike and St. Clair counties in Alabama.”

Doug Jones is up with his first television ad.

CA-SEN: The LA Times offers some perspective on Dianne Feinstein’s decision to run again.

And from Alex Seitz-Wald: “Feinstein has bucked the left wing of her party on occasion, including during the state's recent push to enact single-payer health care, and she is almost certain to face a primary challenge. On social media, allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., were quick to express their hunger for a fight. An even bigger threat might come from more established Democrats, like state Senate President Kevin de Leon, who has been openly considering a run for months. Or from someone who could self-fund what's sure to be an expensive campaign, like progressive billionaire Tom Steyer.”

MO-SEN: Josh Hawley is officially in.

NJ-SEN: Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno are facing off in their first debate tonight.

TN-SEN: The latest on Marsha Blackburn vs. Twitter: “Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign announcement ad has been blocked by Twitter over a statement the abortion rights opponent makes about the sale of fetal tissue for medical research. Blackburn, who is running for the seat being opened by the retirement of Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, boasts in the ad that she “stopped the sale of baby body parts.” A Twitter representative told the candidate’s vendors on Monday that the statement was “deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.”

VA-GOV: The Richmond Times Dispatch on last night’s third and final debate: “At the third and final debate of Virginia’s governor’s race, Democrat Ralph S. Northam repeatedly called Republican Ed Gillespie a “D.C. lobbyist” as Gillespie accused Northam of ignoring the needs of economically depressed rural areas. The debate Monday night in Southwest Virginia came just days after President Donald Trump jumped into the fray on Twitter to endorse Gillespie, a political consultant from Northern Virginia, and attack Northam, a Norfolk doctor and the state’s current lieutenant governor. But there was virtually no mention of Trump as the candidates spent most of the hour discussing the needs of one of the state’s most Trump-friendly regions.”