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First Read's Morning Clips: Tillerson Called Trump a 'Moron'

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a press conference in London
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a press conference in London on Sept. 14, 2017.Leon Neal / Getty Images file

TRUMP AGENDA: Tillerson called Trump a “moron”

From NBC’s Carol Lee, Kristen Welker, Stephanie Ruhle and Dafna Linzer: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to multiple senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time. The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said. Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.”

NBC’s James Rainey: “President Trump ventures into an emotionally fragile and politically divided Las Vegas Wednesday, less than 72 hours after the worst mass slaying in modern American history. He will find a city skeptical about any political leader’s ability to offer solutions and real healing. The Republican, who narrowly lost the state in the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton, will find some people ready to listen and many convinced that he cannot help.”

The Nevada Independent sums up what to expect in the state today.

Trump says he heard “only thank yous” from the people of Puerto Rico. And he said the island should be “proud” of its death toll of “sixteen” – a number which was revised upward shortly after he departed.

Paul Ryan says there are no plans to bring a gun silencer bill to the floor.

POLITICO: “The last record-setting shooting spree on U.S. soil — at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last year — prompted Democrats to occupy the House floor for a full day in protest of the GOP’s refusal to take up new gun control laws. This time, the minority party is employing tamer tactics, tamping down talks of another sit-in and demanding primarily that Republicans drop a gun silencer bill they’ve been pushing.”

Foreign Policy: “Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya during a 2016 trip to Moscow, a previously undisclosed tête-à-tête that sheds additional light on the extent to which Moscow-based political operatives sought to influence American officials in the run-up to last year’s presidential election. In an interview with a pro-Russian Crimean news service, Veselnitskaya said she met with Rohrabacher — a California Republican and arguably the most prominent advocate in Congress for closer relations between Washington and Moscow — in April 2016 to discuss issues surrounding the Magnitsky Act, the punitive American sanctions measure responding to Russian human rights abuses that she has lobbied against.”

The Washington Post: “Senate Intelligence Committee leaders are expected on Wednesday to largely endorse the intelligence community’s findings that Russia sought to sway the 2016 U.S. elections through a hacking and influence campaign as they sound the alarm that states preparing for the coming election season must be vigilant against similar threats.”

ICYMI: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that sticking with the Iran deal is in America’s interest, breaking with the president.

The New York Times, on the latest Supreme Court arguments on gerrymandering: “After spirited Supreme Court arguments on Tuesday, there was reason to think Justice Kennedy may be ready to join the court’s more liberal members in a groundbreaking decision that could reshape American democracy by letting courts determine when lawmakers have gone too far.”

Paul Ryan asked the White House to reconsider pushing Tom Price out, writes POLITICO.

The Washington Post: “Republican leaders are backing away from a proposal to fully repeal an expensive tax break used by more than 40 million tax filers to deduct state and local taxes amid pushback from fellow lawmakers whose residents rely on the popular provision. The state and local tax deduction is estimated to cost $1.3 trillion over the next decade and its repeal is central to paying for a sweeping tax rewrite unveiled last week by Republican lawmakers and administration officials. But elimination of the provision has emerged as a flash point in the nascent debate over the plan, with Republicans in high-tax states worried about backlash from residents who could see their tax bills rise.”

The House has passed a bill to criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but it’s unlikely to pass in the Senate.

What’s happening with DACA? The Washington Post sums up reaction from both parties.

OFF TO THE RACES: Democrats start playing the Trump card in Virginia

Scoop from POLITICO: “Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff railed against congressional leaders in closed-door remarks to wealthy donors and called for a “purge” if GOP lawmakers don’t quickly rally behind President Donald Trump’s agenda. In remarks at a Republican National Committee event at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington on Tuesday morning, Nick Ayers also warned that Republicans are “on track to get shellacked” in next year’s midterm elections if GOP lawmakers don’t pass Trump’s legislative priorities.”

AL-SEN: sums up Joe Biden’s visit to stump for his longtime friend Doug Jones.

Meanwhile, Roy Moore used the visit to tie Jones to other DC Democrats.

The Washington Post notes that Democrats are cautious about how to approach the race.

ME-SEN: The Portland Press Herald reports that Collins’ supporters are urging her to stay in the Senate.

PA-18: This is just a wow story, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on outspoken anti-abortion Rep. Tim Murphy: “A text message sent in January to U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy by a woman with whom he had an extra-marital relationship took him to task for an anti-abortion statement posted on Facebook from his office's public account.” MORE: “A text from Mr. Murphy’s cell phone number that same day in response says, "I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more."

TN-SEN: Will Lamar Alexander call it quits in 2020? He says he hasn’t decided.

VA-GOV: From one of us(!): “Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee for governor in Virginia, is hoping that President Donald Trump puts him over the top — by voicing his opposition. This week, Northam’s campaign released a TV ad directly tying his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, to Trump, whose job-approval rating in the state is stuck in the 30s and low 40s, according to polls in the race.”

The Washington Post: “Ed Gillespie vows that if he’s elected governor of Virginia, he will make lowering the high cost of college a priority. But for years, the lobbying firm he ran, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, fought to do the exact opposite.”

And check out this anti-Northam mailer from the Republican Party of Virginia — focused on Confederate monuments and MS-13 (via Peter Hamby.)