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First Read’s Morning Clips: Operating with impunity

TRUMP AGENDA: Operating with impunity

The Washington Post, with the big picture on Trump’s latest salvos: “Again and again, Trump veered far past the guardrails of presidential behavior. But despite the now-routine condemnations, the president is acting emboldened, as if he were impervious to the uproar he causes. If there are consequences for his actions, Trump does not seem to feel their burden personally. The Republican tax bill appears on track for passage, putting the president on the cusp of his first major legislative achievement. Trump himself remains the ­highest-profile man accused of sexual improprieties to keep his job with no repercussions. Trump has internalized the belief that he can largely operate with impunity, people close to him said. His political base cheers him on. Fellow Republican leaders largely stand by him. His staff scrambles to explain away his misbehavior — or even to laugh it off. And the White House disciplinarian, chief of staff John F. Kelly, has said it is not his job to control the president.”

POLITICO, on how John Kelly is losing the fight over Trump’s Twitter feed: “When John Kelly accepted the position of White House chief of staff last July, he framed his main function as imposing order, including instituting a formal process for the documents and news articles that reached the Resolute Desk. But President Donald Trump’s increasingly incendiary Twitter feed, which remains outside Kelly’s control, has short-circuited that attempt at creating a functional system for controlling the flow of information into the Oval Office.”

NBC’s Saphora Smith sums up Trump’s fight with Theresa May here.

Meanwhile, the British far-right group that Trump retweeted is thrilled that he “shed light” on their issues.

Trump said again that he won’t benefit from the GOP tax plan — but that’s not true.

What’s next for the tax bill? “Key issues that remained included how to prevent the bill from driving up the federal deficit by too much and whether to shift more of the legislation’s rewards from corporations, which are some of the bill’s main beneficiaries, to working-class families, who receive more modest benefits,” writes the Washington Post. More: “Numerous issues were being negotiated throughout the day Wednesday, the most problematic being demands from GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and others for a “trigger” to kick in and raise taxes if economic growth estimates don’t pan out. Corker’s demand for the trigger provision stems from concern over how the bill would affect the federal budget. The total package of tax cuts is projected to add $1.4 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years to the federal budget deficit.”

The New York Times: “The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.”

And in the Wall Street Journal: “Senate Republicans are considering whether to cut the corporate tax rate less deeply than President Donald Trump has demanded, a move that could make it easier to pass the tax bill they voted to begin debating Wednesday. One of the most significant unresolved issues is whether the corporate tax rate should be set above the 20% threshold Mr. Trump has sought and how aggressively the administration would fight an attempt to set it higher.”

Alex Johnson checks in on the man who may have started the process that led Twitter to shut down Trump’s account for 11 minutes earlier this month.

A new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll: “More than four of every five Americans believe that sexual harassment is taking place in the workplace, but most men say they haven't thought about changing their behavior, according to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll.”

“Jared Kushner met earlier this month with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team as part of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the election, according to two people familiar with the meeting,” CNN reported.

And don’t miss this wild story in POLITICO: “Staffers for Senate Republicans’ campaign arm seized information on more than 200,000 donors from the House GOP campaign committee over several months this year by breaking into its computer system, three sources with knowledge of the breach told POLITICO. The unauthorized raid on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s data created a behind-the-scenes rift with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to the sources, who described NRCC officials as furious. It comes at a time when House Republicans are focused on preparing to defend their 24-seat majority in the 2018 midterm elections. And it has spotlighted Senate Republicans’ deep fundraising struggles this year, with the NRSC spending more than it raised for four months in a row.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Moore gets interrupted in Alabama

AL-SEN: Roy Moore was interrupted at an event last night by a man who yelled “all the girls are lying?”

The Washington Post keeps uncovering more about that foiled sting involving a pro-Moore operative. “The failed effort by conservative activists to plant a false story about Senate candidate Roy Moore in The Washington Post was part of a months-long campaign to infiltrate The Post and other media outlets in Washington and New York, according to interviews, text messages and social media posts that have since been deleted. Starting in July, Jaime Phillips, an operative with the organization Project Veritas, which purports to expose media bias, joined two dozen networking groups related to either journalism or left-leaning politics. She signed up to attend 15 related events, often accompanied by a male companion, and appeared at least twice at gatherings for departing Post staffers.”

There’s very high interest in the write-in process in the state, writes AL.com.

Moore seems to have the upper hand again in the polls. FiveThirtyEight asks why.

The Washington Post: “President Trump has told associates he feels good about the way he has navigated the Alabama Senate race that has riven the Republican Party and is confident he will come out fine no matter what happens in the contest, according to friends and aides he has spoken to this week.”

MO-SEN: Trump endorsed Josh Hawley during his visit to St. Charles.

OH-GOV: The Ohio governors’ race is starting to take shape. The Columbus Dispatch: “Former Ohio attorney general and treasurer Richard Cordray, who resigned last week as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will announce no later than next week that he will seek the Democratic nomination for governor, multiple sources told The Dispatch. And, riding polling portraying them as the top contenders for the Republican nomination for governor, Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted are teaming up as a ticket in a powerhouse move consolidating their support.”

TX-GOV: Looks like Democrats finally have a gubernatorial candidate. “Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez plans to resign and run for governor, Dallas-area media reported Wednesday evening — news that was greeted with a sigh of relief from Texas Democrats who were facing the 2018 elections without a well-known name atop the ticket.”

VA-GOV: Terry McAuliffe sure is looking serious about a 2020 run.

WV-SEN: “Former Massey Energy chief executive officer Don Blankenship plans to run for U.S. Senate… Blankenship served a one-year sentence at a California prison for conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards. Blankenship's misdemeanor conviction came after 24 days of testimony in connection with his involvement in the Upper Big Branch explosion that killed 29 men in 2010.”