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First Read's Morning Clips: 'Rocket Man'

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Trump addresses the 72nd Annual UN General Assembly
President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd Annual UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 19, 2017.Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images

TRUMP AGENDA: “Rocket Man”

Ali Vitali rounds up Trump’s U.N. speech yesterday. “President Donald Trump, in his first address to the United Nations, derided Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, as a “rocket man” on Tuesday as the president warned that he may be forced to "totally destroy" the rogue nation. "If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph," Trump said, as he detailed the horrors of what he called the "depraved" North Korean regime.”

“Mr. Trump offered the General Assembly a strikingly selective definition of sovereignty, threatening to act aggressively against countries like North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, whose policies he opposes, yet saying almost nothing about Russia, which seized territory from its neighbor Ukraine, and meddled in the American presidential election,” writes the New York Times.

“Donald Trump’s first speech to the United Nations can best be understood as a response to his predecessor’s final one. On September 20, 2016, Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly that “at this moment we all face a choice. We can choose to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration. Or we can retreat into a world sharply divided, and ultimately in conflict, along age-old lines of nation and tribe and race and religion,” writes The Atlantic. “Three hundred and sixty-four days later, Trump delivered America’s answer: Option number two.”

First in Reuters: “U.S. President Donald Trump is using money donated to his reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay for his lawyers in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, according to two people familiar with the matter.”

What happened with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen yesterday? Our investigative team: “Senate investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election canceled an interview on Tuesday with longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen because they believe Cohen broke an agreement by speaking with the media. The Senate Intelligence Committee will now subpoena Cohen, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News. By mutual agreement, according to the source, neither lawmakers nor Cohen's camp were to speak to reporters about the testimony. Committee staffers were upset when Cohen circulated a statement prior to the meeting that included a blanket denial of collusion with Russia.”

Trump’s approval rating appears to be ticking back up.

The latest on health care, from Leigh Ann Caldwell and Garrett Haake: “Momentum has grown in recent days for a last-ditch GOP effort to partially repeal and replace Obamacare, movement that appears driven as much by the politics of health care as the policy behind it. The legislation that Republicans are rallying around is seen as the final hope of repealing major parts of the Affordable Care Act, a campaign promise the party has repeated for seven years and one they have failed to deliver on so far. The lack of progress has turned into a source of great frustration to both their base voters and President Donald Trump.”

And/but, via the Washington Post: “Senate Republicans and the White House pressed ahead Tuesday with their suddenly resurgent effort to undo former president Barack Obama’s signature health-care law, even as their attempt was dealt a setback when a bipartisan group of governors and several influential interest groups came out against the proposal. Powerful health-care groups continued to rail against the bill, including AARP and the American Hospital Association, both of which urged a no vote. But it was unclear whether the opposition would ultimately derail the attempt, as key Republican senators including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said they had yet to make up their minds.”

How it’s playing in the Alaska Dispatch News: “Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, joined a bipartisan group of governors Tuesday in urging U.S. Senate leaders to drop the latest bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act and instead focus on bipartisan reforms… Murkowski has so far declined to say how she would vote on the so-called Cassidy bill, which focuses on sending states block grant funding to manage how they like. On Tuesday, she said that she has been in regular contact with Walker about the legislation and is continuing to review the numbers.”

Via POLITICO, Rand Paul is getting a tough time from fellow Republicans for his opposition to the latest repeal bill.

And don’t miss the Jimmy Kimmel factor: “Jimmy Kimmel railed against a new Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, this time calling one senator a liar for claiming that he supported a health care bill that guaranteed coverage for all families.”

The Wall Street Journal writes that states need $645 billion to pay their health care costs in full.

Uh-oh: “In a sharp departure from his predecessors, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price last week took private jets on five separate flights for official business, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel,” POLITICO writes.

“The big five news organizations have passed on offering former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer a job as an exclusive paid contributor, network sources confirmed to NBC News Tuesday,” writes NBC’s Claire Atkinson.

The Wall Street Journal: “The Federal Reserve on Wednesday likely will announce the beginning of a yearslong program to shrink its bond portfolio and could offer clues about the prospects for another rate increase this year. Officials will release a statement and their updated quarterly economic projections at 2 p.m. EDT, after the conclusion of their two-day policy meeting. Chairwoman Janet Yellen holds a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Here’s what to watch.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Wrapping up last night’s debate in Virginia

AL-SEN: The upcoming debate is set to be a strange one.

ICYMI: Sebastian Gorka and Sarah Palin are campaigning for Moore.

The AP: “When former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley appointed his state's then-attorney general Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate, after Strange's office had begun looking into a scandal that eventually led to the governor's resignation, Bentley apparently considered it a good thing that he would get to name a new attorney general, according to Bentley's archived notes obtained by The Associated Press.”

Moore said last month that Americans have “asked for” shootings and violence after removing “the acknowledgement of God” from society, CNN reports.

MD-GOV: The Baltimore Sun reports on Krishanti Vignarajah’s official entry into the governor’s race.

NJ-SEN: has the latest on the Menendez trial. “Much of the testimony of this ongoing third week of the trial has revolved around travel the senator allegedly took with his friend, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen.”

Barack Obama will host an event this fall for Phil Murphy.

VA-GOV: NBC’s Kailani Koenig, on last night’s debate: “As the two major party candidates in the competitive race for governor of Virginia faced off in their second debate Tuesday night, neither could escape the national issues tugging at them, including President Trump, health care, and the ongoing disputes over confederate monuments in the state. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate seeking to keep the seat in his party's hands this November, faced off against Republican nominee Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman and onetime counselor to President George W. Bush, in a spirited yet civil debate moderated by NBC’s Chuck Todd.”

How it played in the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Asked by the moderator what he’d say to Northern Virginia Republicans disillusioned by Trump’s win, Gillespie, a political consultant and GOP strategist, said voters should look at the plans he’s put forward, specifically the proposed tax cut at the center of his economic message, and dinged Northam for failing to put up a tax plan of his own. Northam, a pediatric neurologist, said he’d work with Trump to secure federal dollars crucial to the state economy, but said he’s bothered by many of the things Trump has done so far, including the ban on travelers from some majority-Muslim countries, pulling out of the Paris climate change accord and talk of deporting the so-called Dreamers protected under the DACA program.”