TRUMP AGENDA: Terrorist attack in New York
The big story: “Eight people were killed and about a dozen more were injured Tuesday when a motorist in a rented pickup truck deliberately drove down a bike path in lower Manhattan and mowed down several people before crashing into a school bus. Officials said it was a terrorist attack — the deadliest in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.”
Here’s how the president responded, via Ali Vitali: “President Donald Trump called the murderous spree by a rental truck driver in New York City on Tuesday "another attack by a very sick and deranged person," sent condolences to victims of what the president referred to as a "terrorist attack," and pledged to step up extreme vetting of those seeking to enter the U.S. Though ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the rampage, Trump warned in a tweet after being briefed by his chief of staff John Kelly: "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!" A law enforcement official told WNBC that a note found in the suspect's truck claimed that he carried out the attack for ISIS.”
An exclusive from NBC’s Ken Dilanian and Mike Memoli: “Sam Clovis, the former top Trump campaign official who supervised a man now cooperating with the FBI's Russia investigation, was questioned last week by special counsel Robert Mueller's team and testified before the investigating grand jury, a person with first-hand knowledge of the matter told NBC News.”
The Washington Post: “Despite his growing frustration with a federal probe he has roundly dismissed, Trump has been cooperating with Mueller and lately has resisted attacking him directly, at the urging of his attorneys inside and outside the White House. But several prominent Trump allies, including former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have said they think the president’s posture is too timid. Seeing the investigation as a political threat, they are clamoring for a more combative approach to Mueller that would damage his credibility and effectively kneecap his operation by cutting its funding. Still, Bannon and others are not advising Trump to fire Mueller, a rash move that the president’s lawyers and political advisers oppose and insist is not under consideration.”
Mueller says that both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates pose a “serious risk of flight.”
The Washington Post: “A little-noticed court filing unsealed this week as part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing probe could have big consequences for his other targets — showing he’s willing to use suspects’ lawyers to provide evidence against them. After unsealing a 12-count indictment against President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, the U.S. District Court also unsealed an opinion from Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell saying one of Manafort’s former lawyers could be compelled to testify to the grand jury.”
The New York Times notes how much trouble Trump has faced from his early foreign policy advisers: “It was a team born out of a political problem: Mr. Trump’s surprise march to the nomination had left the party’s establishment openly questioning whether he had the foreign policy experience and was too much of a loose cannon to be entrusted with the presidency. Mr. Trump’s solution was to cobble together a list of men who were almost immediately written off as a collection of fringe thinkers and has-beens and unknowns in Washington foreign policy circles. Some from that group have now created far deeper problems for Mr. Trump, providing federal and congressional investigators with evidence of suspicious interactions with Russian officials and their emissaries.”
How much contact with senior officials did George Papadopoulos have? The Washington Post has this fact check.
Mueller has scheduled an interview with Hope Hicks, POLITICO reports.
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The AP, on Trump’s trip to Korea: “After leaving the possibility of the visit dangling, the White House announced definitively Tuesday that President Donald Trump would not be following in their footsteps and will be forgoing a visit to the DMZ as he sets out on his maiden Asia trip.”
And from POLITICO: “President Donald Trump has been holed up in a series of rapid-fire briefing sessions on his upcoming 12-day, five-country tour through Asia — an effort the White House hopes will help avoid the kind of diplomatic snafus that have dogged his presidency. The trip — Trump’s longest yet — comes at a tense moment in Asia, with the threat of the North Korea nuclear program looming. But some of Trump’s advisers believe the time away from Washington will offer the president, who leaves Friday, a brief respite from the Russia-related revelations that have consumed him in recent days.”
The Washington Post notes how the Russia investigation is complicating Trump’s agenda. “The first criminal charges stemming from the Russia investigation landed this week at a perilous point in Donald Trump’s presidency, threatening his standing with foreign leaders ahead of an important trip to Asia on Friday and his effectiveness in selling the Republican tax plan set to be released this week.”
From NBC’s Kasie Hunt, Alex Moe and Leigh Ann Caldwell: “House Republicans will delay releasing their tax bill until Thursday, it was announced Tuesday night. The bill had originally been scheduled to be unveiled Wednesday. But speculation over a delay was rampant on Capitol Hill on Tuesday night, with representatives of House leaders pointing to the Ways and Means Committee for any final decision or announcement.”
More on the tax plan, from the Washington Post: “House Republican leaders plan to propose preserving the top income-tax rate for very wealthy people, a last-minute adjustment to their plan to overhaul the tax code that they hope will assuage concerns that it will mainly benefit the rich, according to four people briefed on the planning Tuesday.”
From NBC’s Ron Allen and Ezra Kaplan, in Vidalia, Ga: “In this rural community, where a lot of folks need health insurance, there's an urgent grass-roots effort to get the word out that it's time to sign up for Obamacare again beginning on Wednesday. This time around, though, the challenge is especially daunting — given that a lot of people don't think Obamacare still exists.”
POLITICO has a deep dive into how Betsy DeVos is handling her job.
Don’t miss the New York Times’ new video series: “Internetting With Amanda Hess.” The first installment looks at the “dark art of political memes.”
OFF TO THE RACES: Mr. Moore goes to Washington
AL-SEN: The Washington Post: “Roy Moore tried to fit in with Senate Republicans for a day. It didn’t work.”
Orrin Hatch says he has “trouble” with Moore’s views of gays and Muslims.
And Jeff Flake says Moore’s Senate bid “should concern us all.”
CO-GOV: Immigration hardliner Tom Tancredo is jumping into the Colorado governor’s race. The Denver Post: “After back-to-back losses in 2010 and 2014, immigration hardliner and former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo plans to try again in 2018 to become Colorado’s next governor — a move spurred in part by his anger at Republicans for not protesting when a Colorado Springs resort canceled a white nationalist conference where he was supposed to speak.”
NH: Both Tim Ryan and John Delaney will campaign separately for Democrats in New Hampshire municipal elections this week, Paul Steinhauser reports.
VA-GOV: Latino Victory Fund has pulled that controversial anti-Gillespie ad in the wake of the NYC truck attack. But the Washington Post also notes that the ad came about amid concerns about Northam’s performance with minorities.
POLITICO looks at why polling in Virginia has been so erratic.