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First Read's Morning Clips: Questioning Trump's Art of the Deal

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speak to reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House on Oct. 16, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talk to reporters in the Rose Garden following a lunch meeting at the White House Oct. 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

TRUMP AGENDA: Congress questions Trump’s deal-making abilities

“President Trump campaigned as one of the world’s greatest dealmakers, but after nine months of struggling to broker agreements, lawmakers in both parties increasingly consider him an untrustworthy, chronically inconsistent and easily distracted negotiator,” writes the Washington Post. “As Trump prepares to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday to unify his party ahead of a high-stakes season of votes on tax cuts and budget measures, some Republicans are openly questioning his negotiating abilities and devising strategies to keep him from changing his mind.”

The AP: “President Donald Trump warned House Republicans on Sunday that 2018 would be a political failure for the GOP and disappointment for the nation if they fail on tax overhaul. A GOP aide familiar with the conversation said Trump told the lawmakers again and again that the party would have a steep price to pay in next year's midterm elections if they failed to pass his plan. It would slash the corporate tax rate to 20 percent and double the standard deduction used by most average Americans.”

Benjy Sarlin, on the parallels between Trump’s tax plan and a failed one in Kansas: “For Democrats, Kansas has become Exhibit A in their prosecution of the Trump tax cuts. It's routinely cited as evidence the new GOP proposal won’t grow the economy or pay for itself, and that proposed business tax reduction similar to Brownback’s will create a new loophole for wealthy individuals to exploit.”

Per budget expert Stan Collender, the Trump/GOP policies – tax cuts, increased military spending and hurricane relief – “will balloon the federal deficit to $1 trillion or more every year going forward. And unlike the four consecutive $1 trillion deficits recorded during the first years of the Obama administration, these trillion dollar annual deficits will be the result of enacted changes in federal spending and taxing rather than on a temporary economic downturn.”

Breaking this morning from NBC’s Tom Winter and Julia Ainsley: “Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller's inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources. As special counsel, Mueller has been tasked with investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

The New York Times: “Nine months into the Trump administration, any notion that Capitol Hill would provide a comprehensive, authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a hostile power to disrupt American democracy appears to be dwindling.”

Don’t miss this comment from John McCain during a CSPAN special: “One aspect of the (Vietnam) conflict by the way that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

Kailani Koenig sums up the growing questions about the deaths of four service members in Niger.

From NBC’s Adam Edelman: “Progressive state legislators are trying to counter President Donald Trump — by taking a page out of the conservative playbook. A group called the State Innovation Exchange (SIX) is raising its profile to lead efforts in Statehouses around the country, supporting lawmakers in advancing progressive policies and beating back Trump-influenced agendas locally.”

“The C.I.A. is expanding its covert operations in Afghanistan, sending small teams of highly experienced officers and contractors alongside Afghan forces to hunt and kill Taliban militants across the country, according to two senior American officials, the latest sign of the agency’s increasingly integral role in President Trump’s counterterrorism strategy,” writes the New York Times.

The Washington Post reports on the new venture from the Trump brothers — in Mississippi.

“The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference on Monday in Rhode Island, according to the agency and several people involved,” the New York Times reports. “John Konkus, an E.P.A. spokesman and a former Trump campaign operative in Florida, confirmed that agency scientists would not speak at the State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed program in Providence. He provided no further explanation.”

And finally, don’t miss this important segment from Meet the Press – featuring four female senators who tell their own #MeToo stories.

OFF TO THE RACES: Collision course: Trump vs. Bannon

The Wall Street Journal: “President Donald Trump is siding with Republican Senate incumbents in key re-election races, potentially putting him on a collision course with Steve Bannon, the onetime White House chief strategist who has declared a “season of war” on their party’s establishment. The two men have praised each other and their efforts in public. Behind the scenes, they have been unable to reach agreement on how to proceed in some Senate races, according to people familiar with their conversations. In a speech on Friday, Mr. Bannon described Mr. Trump as “an instrument” in a larger movement, instead of the leader of one.”

From POLITICO: “Democratic candidates are reporting historic early fundraising totals, alarming GOP strategists and raising the prospect that 2018 could feature the most expansive House battlefield in years. Animated by opposition to President Donald Trump and the Republican congressional majorities, at least 162 Democratic candidates in 82 GOP-held districts have raised over $100,000 so far this year, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest FEC data. That’s about four times as many candidates as House Democrats had at this point before the 2016 or 2014 elections, and it’s more than twice as many as Republicans had running at this point eight years ago, on the eve of capturing the House in the 2010 wave election.”

AZ-SEN: The Arizona Republic asks: Is Kelli Ward “the new Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle and Todd Akin wrapped into one?”

IL-GOV: Bruce Rauner is running for a second term.

NJ-GOV: Reuters notes that Phil Murphy is striking some of the same notes as Bernie Sanders. (Unlike Sanders, Murphy spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs!)

TN-SEN: Former Rep. Stephen Fincher is officially in for the Republican primary.

UT-SEN: The Salt Lake Tribune writes in an op-ed that Mitt Romney should be “a savior for Republicans” and run for Senate.

VA-GOV: The Washington Post: “The Democratic National Committee gathered here over the past week with one worry on every activist’s mind: We’d better not lose the Virginia governor’s race. It’s a surprising case of the jitters over a place that hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office in eight years — and that voted resoundingly against Donald Trump last year. But nationally, Democrats haven’t won a marquee race since losing the presidency. They lag Republicans in fundraising. A loss for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie on Nov. 7 could stir doubts about message and strategy just as the party is gearing up nationally for next year’s all-important midterm elections.”

The Voter Participation Center will spend $1 million on Democratic turnout next month in Virginia.

WV-SEN: Joe Manchin says it wouldn’t be “wise” to campaign with Clinton in West Virginia.