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First Read's Morning Clips: Trump Jr. Responds

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Donald Trump Jr. speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland
Donald Trump Jr. speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 in Cleveland. FileBrian Snyder / Reuters File

TRUMP AGENDA: Trump Jr: “I probably would have done things a little differently”

Did Donald Trump Jr. break the law when he met Natalia Veselnitskaya? Legal experts weigh in.

Who is Veselnitskaya? The New York Times writes that she “has been widely depicted as a one-issue activist consumed with getting Congress to repeal sanctions against Russian businessmen. But lawyers and others in Moscow’s legal community called her a trusted insider, one who could be counted on to argue and win important high-profile court cases that matter to the government and to one senior, well-connected official in particular.”

Trump Jr. says he “probably would have done things a little differently” regarding the meeting. “Someone sent me an email,” he said in an interview with Sean Hannity. “I can’t help what someone sends me. I read it, I responded accordingly."

POLITICO writes that White House aides are feeling “helpless” amid the Trump Jr. scandal “while the president is using his relatively light schedule to watch TV and fume about the latest scandal.”

The Washington Post: “The makeup of Trump’s inner circle is the subject of internal debate, as ever. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser; Jared Kushner, her husband and another senior adviser; and first lady Melania Trump have been privately pressing the president to shake up his team — most specifically by replacing Reince Priebus as the White House chief of staff, according to two senior White House officials and one ally close to the White House. The three family members are especially concerned about the steady stream of unauthorized leaks to journalists that have plagued the administration over the nearly six months that President Trump has been in office, from sensitive national security information to embarrassing details about the inner workings of the White House, the officials said.”

The New York Times reports that Trump himself signed off on his son’s first – incomplete - statement over the weekend. “As Air Force One jetted back from Europe on Saturday, a small cadre of Mr. Trump’s advisers huddled in a cabin helping to craft a statement for the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to give to The New York Times explaining why he met last summer with a lawyer connected to the Russian government. Participants on the plane and back in the United States debated how transparent to be in the statement, according to people familiar with the discussions. Ultimately, the people said, the president signed off on a statement from Donald Trump Jr. for The Times that was so incomplete that it required day after day of follow-up statements, each more revealing than the last.”

FBI Director nominee Chris Wray faces questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

Leigh Ann Caldwell writes on Mitch McConnell’s move to delay the start of August recess.

Paul Kane writes that the Senate health care bill was always an “orphan.” More: “By not going through the Senate’s precedent-bound process of “regular order,” the bill has bypassed committee hearings as well as the loving care that a legislative sponsor would normally provide. As a result, it has no real parent figure, no one invested in its success, no one primarily responsible for promoting it to other colleagues and the media.”

Will Gary Cohn replace Janet Yellen? POLITICO writes that he’s the top candidate for the job.

First Amendment advocates are suing Trump for blocking his critics on Twitter.

OFF TO THE RACES: Why aren’t Democrats making a bigger play in Arizona?

AZ-SEN: Jeff Flake is unpopular… so why aren’t Dems mounting a serious challenge? FiveThirtyEight takes a look.

MD-GOV: Bernie Sanders will endorse Ben Jealous for governor in Maryland, the Baltimore Sun reports.

MO-SEN: Vice President Mike Pence spoke to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley about the possibility of running for Senate, the Kansas City Star reports.

NV-SEN: Dean Heller has more than $3.5 million in the bank for his re-election race.

WI-GOV: Democrat Andy Gronik will challenge Scott Walker in 2018. (Meanwhile, Walker has $2.4 million in the bank.)

WI-SEN: Probable Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson is getting some public vetting from a former college roommate, the Journal Sentinel notes.