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First Read's Morning Clips: More Trump Jr. Revelations

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Donald Trump Jr. arrives at Trump Tower
Donald Trump Jr. arrives at Trump Tower on January 18, 2017 in New York City.John Moore / Getty Images file

TRUMP AGENDA: Another person attended that June 9, 2016 meeting

Breaking this morning, an NBC News exclusive: “The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned. NBC News is not naming the lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies. He accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.”

POLITICO: “Jared Kushner has been pressing other White House aides to more vigorously defend the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer that Kushner also attended, but has faced resistance from some of Trump’s top press aides, according to six sources familiar with the matter. Four White House officials and two outside advisers say Kushner wants the White House to more aggressively push out surrogates and talking points to change the narrative around the latest twist in the Russia scandal.”

“The challenge for President Trump’s attorneys has become, at its core, managing the unmanageable — their client,” writes the Washington Post. “He won’t follow instructions. After one meeting in which they urged Trump to steer clear of a certain topic, he sent a tweet about that very theme before they arrived back at their office. He won’t compartmentalize. With aides, advisers and friends breezing in and out of the Oval Office, it is not uncommon for the president to suddenly turn the conversation to Russia — a subject that perpetually gnaws at him — in a meeting about something else entirely.” MORE: “Another question is who will pay the legal fees for the president and administration officials involved in the Russia inquiries. Some in Trump’s orbit are pushing the Republican National Committee to bear the costs, said three people with knowledge of the situation, including one who euphemistically described the debate as a “robust discussion.””

And then there’s this from ProPublica: “Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney on the Russia case, threatened a stranger in a string of profanity-laden emails Wednesday night. The man, a retired public relations professional in the western United States who asked not to be identified, read ProPublica’s story this week on Kasowitz and sent the lawyer an email with the subject line: “Resign Now.’’ Kasowitz replied with series of angry messages sent between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern time.”

The Chicago Tribune has a stunner of a story: That GOP operative who was seeking Clinton emails from Russian hackers committed suicide in a Minnesota hotel room.

The New York Times notes how admiration for Putin on the right is giving Trump cover as the Russia story unspools.

NBC’s Benjy Sarlin has a comprehensive primer on the new GOP health care bill.

Corky Siemaszko asks experts if the new bill will fix the opioid crisis. (Short answer: Nope.)

The New York Times: “[P]assing a bill is proving to be a huge challenge in the Senate, just as in the House, which struggled with its repeal measure. Over all, the new version of the Senate bill made broad concessions to conservative Republicans who had said that the initial draft left too much of the Affordable Care Act in place. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, then backfilled the bill with money intended to placate moderates. The resulting mix left neither side completely satisfied.”

Headlines like this aren’t likely to help, either:

  • POLITICO: “Richest Americans gain the most from the Senate’s health care bill”
  • New York Times: “Revised Senate Health Bill Tries to Win Votes, but Has Fewer Winners”

And, as the Washington Post points out, Trump isn’t exactly selling the GOP agenda to voters. “Trump’s sporadic salesmanship on the bills and ambitions lingering on Capitol Hill has become a defining characteristic of the complicated relationship between the president and congressional Republicans. Although Trump routinely proclaims his desire for political victories, he has yet to make a full-throated case to the country about legislation that Congress is pursuing and has spent a modest amount of time attempting to twist arms in the House or Senate.”

“President Trump’s budget would not add to economic growth or eliminate the deficit in coming years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday, casting doubt on a plan the White House has touted as central to achieving the president’s domestic agenda,” the Washington Post writes. “The CBO projected that the economy would grow at only 1.9 percent under the White House’s plan — far below the 3 percent goal the administration continued to outline as recently as Thursday. It also warned that contrary to White House claims that deep cuts to the safety net in the budget would lead to a financial surplus in a decade, the deficit would actually be $720 billion.”

The Washington Post has a deep dive into what it’s like to make Ivanka Trump’s products overseas — and how that’s at odds with her family’s message.

NBC’s Andrew Rafferty: “Two former staff members of a delegate to Congress from the U.S. Virgin Islands were indicted Thursday for allegedly circulating nude pictures and videos of her and her husband that authorities said were stolen from the delegate’s cell phone.”

OFF TO THE RACES: The race in Alabama to prove who loves Trump more

AL-SEN: has the latest on the Alabama Senate candidates trying to outdo each other in embracing Trump.

MA-SEN: Pro-Trump state rep. Geoff Diehl will officially challenge Elizabeth Warren.

MD-GOV: The Atlantic asks if Bernie ally Ben Jealous can win the governorship.

ME-GOV: Former Maine House Speaker Mark Eves is the fourth Democrat to join the race to replace Paul LePage.

MI-SEN: Kid Rock released some new songs and announced a tour, so there’s that.

MO-SEN: Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt met with the NRSC in Washington about a potential Senate run.

TX-SEN: From Abby Livingston at the Texas Tribune: “U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, outraised U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in the first quarter of the Democrat's underdog bid against the state's junior senator. O'Rourke raised $2.1 million in his first quarter as a U.S. Senate candidate, according to a statement he released on Thursday morning. The Cruz camp followed up later in the day stating the incumbent raised $1.6 million. Cruz still has a significant cash-on-hand advantage with $5.7 million, while O'Rourke is expected to report just shy of $1.9 million in cash on hand.”

VA-SEN: The Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Dissident Republican Corey Stewart’s entry into Virginia’s 2018 Senate race overlaps with this year’s race for governor. And that could complicate life for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, who continues to be a recipient of Stewart’s razor-sharp tongue.”