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First Read's Morning Clips: Pence v. Manchin

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Democratic Senators Speak To The Press After Weekly Policy Luncheon
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) talks to reporters before heading to a Senate Democratic policy luncheon, on Capitol Hill, September 17, 2013 in Washington, DC. Manchin discussed gun control issues with reporters in light of the Navy Yard shootings in Washington yesterday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)Drew Angerer / Getty Images

MIDTERM MADNESS: Vice President Pence vs. Joe Manchin

NBC’s Jonathan Allen at the GOP retreat: “Vice President Mike Pence launched himself into the fray of this year’s midterm elections Wednesday, assuring House and Senate Republicans that the White House will stand behind them on the campaign trail.”

Bloomberg sums up the fundraising landscape, noting the early strength for Dems.

CA-50: Hm. Duncan Hunter raised only $50,703 but spent $264,255 in the last part of 2017. (h/t NBC’s Ed Demaria.)

FL-SEN: POLITICO reports that Rick Scott has raised more than $1.1 million for a super PAC.

IN-SEN: Luke Messer and Mike Braun have officially filed for Senate.

HI-GOV: David Ige outraised Colleen Hanabusa but fell short of his fundraising goal.

MO-SEN: Well this is an eye-opener, from leaked audio of Josh Hawley on the causes of human trafficking: “The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined, never have imagined,” Hawley told a crowd in audio obtained by The Star this week.

Hawley is also trailing McCaskill badly in fundraising.

NJ-SEN: “In a shocking turnaround, the U.S. Justice Department has dropped its case against Sen. Robert Menendez. In a court in Newark on Wednesday, federal prosecutors moved to dismiss the corruption indictment against the New Jersey Democrat after a federal judge last week acquitted Menendez and his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen, of seven of the 18 counts against them. Both were facing a retrial after a deadlocked jury could not reach a verdict in the high-profile case in November.”

Menendez does still face a Senate ethics probe.

NV-SEN: In a “Groundhog Day” themed ad, Dean Heller pokes fun at Danny Tarkanian’s record of losing races in the state.

PA-1: Bob Brady, the boss of Philadelphia Democrats, isn’t running for reelection.

SC-4: Trey Gowdy won’t run again. What’s behind the decision? POLITICO writes that he just got fed up with Washington.

WV-SEN: Joe Manchin is hitting back after being attacked by Mike Pence, saying “this is why Washington sucks.”

TRUMP AGENDA: Zeroing in on that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting

The New York Times reports that Mueller is zeroing in on how the statement responding to Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with Russians. “Mr. Mueller’s team recently notified Mr. Trump’s lawyers that the Air Force One statement is one of about a dozen subjects that prosecutors want to discuss in a face-to-face interview of Mr. Trump that is still being negotiated… Some lawyers and witnesses who have sat in or been briefed on the interviews have puzzled over Mr. Mueller’s interest in the episode. Lying to federal investigators is a crime; lying to the news media is not. For that reason, some of Mr. Trump’s advisers argue that Mr. Mueller has no grounds to ask the president about the statement and say he should refuse to discuss it.”

Adam Schiff says the White House was sent a different version of the classified Trump-Russia-FBI memo than the one the committee voted to release to the public.

The Washington Post, on what the showdown over the memo means for Chris Wray.

And there’s this: “Top FBI officials were aware for at least a month before alerting Congress that emails potentially related to an investigation of Hillary Clinton had emerged during a key stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign, according to text messages reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

Trump is spending about a quarter of his re-election funds on lawyers.

Trump International Realty is expanding in South Florida.

ICYMI: The CDC director stepped down after POLITICO reported that she was trading tobacco stock during her tenure.