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First Read's Morning Clips: Trump Meets Pope Francis

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Pope Francis shook hands with with President Trump before their private audience.
Pope Francis shook hands with with President Trump before their private audience.Alessandra Tarantino / AP

TRUMP AGENDA: Meeting Pope Francis

Trump met Pope Francis in Rome, where the two exchanged gifts and spoke behind closed doors.

POLITICO looks ahead to the G-7 summit: “President Donald Trump's vague stances on climate and trade have frustrated U.S. allies just days before a major international summit in Italy, senior French and Italian officials said.”

The Washington Post: “President Trump labeled North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a private phone conversation with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last month, just days before stating publicly that he would be “honored” to meet with Kim. In the April 29 call, Trump sought Duterte’s input on whether Kim is “stable or not stable” and expressed some satisfaction in North Korea’s recent failed missile tests, noting that “all his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news,” according to a transcript of the conversation made by the Philippines government on May 2 and obtained Tuesday by The Washington Post.” MORE: “Trump’s call with Duterte, during which he extended an invitation to visit him at the White House, was met with skepticism from some foreign policy analysts and human rights groups. Since taking office in June, Duterte has moved to hedge on the Philippines’ long-standing defense alliance with the United States by establishing closer relations with China. And his administration has overseen a brutal extrajudicial campaign that has resulted in the killings of thousands of suspected drug dealers. Trump has not spoken out against that strategy, and in their call he praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” “Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump said, according to the transcript.”

From NBC’s Ken Dilanian: “The heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday they plan to subpoena two of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn's companies to get documents he has declined to provide for their Russia probe since the businesses can't invoke a Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.”

“President Donald Trump is expected to retain Marc Kasowitz as private attorney on matters related to the Russia investigation, sources familiar with the decision told NBC News Tuesday.”

The New York Times, on John Brennan’s testimony yesterday: “John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, described on Tuesday a nerve-fraying few months last year as American authorities realized that the presidential election was under attack and feared that Donald J. Trump’s campaign might be aiding that fight. Mr. Brennan, in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, said he was concerned by a series of suspicious contacts between Russian government officials and Mr. Trump’s associates.”

Benjy Sarlin, on today’s big CBO announcement: “In a highly unusual move, House leaders brought the American Health Care Act to a vote three weeks ago without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan agency responsible for scrutinizing legislation, to evaluate its effects. The agency is scheduled to release its report on the AHCA on Wednesday afternoon. The CBO previously weighed in on a version of the AHCA that the House was set to vote on in March before Republican leaders withdrew the bill due to lack of support.”

The New York Times, on the budget battle: “Congressional Republicans greeted President Trump’s first full budget on Tuesday with open hesitation or outright hostility. But it was not clear that they could come up with an alternative that could win over conservatives and moderates while clearing a path for the tax cuts and policies they have promised for years.

More: “Presidential budgets, especially in times of divided government, are traditionally labeled dead on arrival. This one, with its deep domestic spending reductions, never even drew a breath, despite unified Republican control of Washington. But it will influence the coming congressional spending deliberations, and its most consequential effect may be to push authors of House and Senate budget and spending bills to the right.”

Rep. Tom MacArthur has resigned from the moderate GOP Tuesday Group, citing divisions over health care.

From the Washington Post: “The Trump administration, determined to overhaul and modernize the nation’s infrastructure, is drafting plans to privatize some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops and other facilities, according to top officials and advisers. In his proposed budget released Tuesday, President Trump called for spending $200 billion over 10 years to “incentivize” private, state and local spending on infrastructure.”

From Alex Seitz-Wald: “Fox News announced Tuesday it had retracted a story published last week that reignited conspiracy theories around the unsolved killing of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, whose family demanded an apology from the conservative news network. Later Tuesday, the conspiracy's most prominent proponent, Fox News' Sean Hannity, announced on his show that he would stop discussing the case "for now." It was a major back-down for the well-known host who had used his Twitter account earlier to vow he would never be silenced by "Liberal Fascism." Hannity said he made the decision to go mum on the killing ‘out of respect for the family's wishes.’”

Rich’s parents penned an op-ed pleading for conspiracy theorists to cut it out: “We are asking you to please consider our feelings and words. There are people who are using our beloved Seth’s memory and legacy for their own political goals, and they are using your outrage to perpetuate our nightmare. We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Democrats win state legislative seats in NH, NY

Don’t miss this, in New Hampshire: “In an upset, Democrat Edith DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache in Carroll County District 6, which includes the town of Wolfeboro. The vote total, confirmed by both parties, was 811-755… Democrats said the upset in Wolfeboro was the first time nationally that a Democrat flipped a federal or state legislative seat from Republican to Democrat. The party said DesMarais became the first Democrat ever to be elected in Wolfeboro.” A Republican also won a special election in Hillsborough County.

And in New York: “Democrat Christine Pellegrino defeated Conservative Tom Gargiulo on Tuesday in the 9th Assembly District special election as the progressive and union-backed candidate pulled off an upset victory for the heavily Republican seat,” Newsday writes.

GA-6:The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC favored by House Speaker Paul Ryan, said Wednesday it will hire another 45 door-knockers to reach an additional 100,000 households. The group also stuck to its latest theme – linking Ossoff to San Francisco – with a new radio spot. The group has doled out $6.6 million and already had a team of 90 field operatives on the ground in the district, which spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb. It also plans to keep its field office in the district open after the June 20 runoff – regardless of who wins – to prepare for the 2018 vote. House Democrats upped their ante as well. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it will pour in another $2 million to back Ossoff, bringing the total investment to nearly $5 million.”

Ossoff is mostly letting others attack Trump in the run-up to the race, the AJC notes.

MT-AL: The Billings Gazette notes how much Republicans are outspending Democrats in the race.

POLITICO notes that Republican operatives are acknowledging that the race is “closer than it should be” for them.