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First Read's Morning Clips: Trump's Afghanistan Plan

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump address the nation at Fort Myer on August 21, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.Carolyn Kaster / AP

TRUMP AGENDA: President unveils new approach – but no new details

From NBC’s Ali Vitali: “President Donald Trump announced a new approach — but no details — for the U.S. war in Afghanistan on Monday, marking a major policy reversal for the man who in recent years had insisted America pull out of the war-torn country. Acknowledging that his "original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts," Trump said in a prime-time address to the nation from Ft. Myer in Arlington, Virginia, that after becoming president he realized a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would cede ground to terror groups.”

The Washington Post: “Trump’s new approach to Afghanistan is the result of a long policy review within his administration that was finalized during a presidential retreat with top advisers at Camp David on Friday. His decision to endorse a Pentagon plan to boost troop levels reflects mounting concern among military leaders that battlefield setbacks for Afghan government forces against the Taliban and al-Qaeda have led to a rapidly deteriorating security situation. Although Trump did not specify how many more troops will be sent to Afghanistan, congressional officials said the administration has told them it will be about 4,000 more than the 8,500 U.S. service members currently in the region.”

And from the New York Times: “His decision, several officials said, was less a change of heart than a weary acceptance of the case, made during three months of intense White House debate by the military leaders who dominate his war cabinet. In the end, these officials said, Mr. Trump accepted the logic that a “big military” approach was needed to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a launching pad for terrorism against the United States. Persuaded there were no other options, Mr. Trump became the third American president to send young men and women into the longest war in American history.”

POLITICO: “President Trump proved one thing beyond the shadow of a doubt in his Afghanistan strategy speech Monday night: After nearly 16 years of fighting America’s longest war, there are no new ideas.”

Republican members of Congress are on board with the plan — and Afghan officials are relieved. (But Breitbart ripped into the announcement.)

Joe Arpaio tells NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard that he has “no idea” if Trump will pardon him.

Leigh Ann Caldwell: “House Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday night that he opposes a resolution circulating among House Democrats that would censure President Donald Trump for his reaction to the white nationalist-fueled protests in Charlottesville, Va. last week, calling it nothing more than a partisan "food fight" and "hack-fest" that would further divide the country. But the GOP House leader also used his strongest language yet in condemning Trump's reaction to the violence, saying the president's language at a press conference last Tuesday was "wrong." "It was not only morally ambiguous, it was equivocating," Ryan said Monday night during a CNN town hall in Wisconsin.”

One of the Central Park Five writes about Trump’s response to Charlottesville. “When we were falsely accused of sexual assault, Trump had no qualms about jumping to conclusions.”

What does Steve Bannon’s return to Breitbart mean? Jon Ward of Yahoo News: “Steve Bannon’s return to Breitbart News is being greeted by many Republican insiders with a shrug. In fact, on the same day that the moon covered the sun, the consensus across a number of GOP operatives and congressional aides is that Bannon himself has been eclipsed by President Trump.”

Will any Trump aides leave the White House? The Wall Street Journal: “Caught in this swirl of conflicting forces, most feel compelled to stay for the greater good, convinced, justifiably, that they are helping steer the nation’s policies onto safer ground. Still, in many cases they left behind good careers or safe sinecures, only to find themselves under attack by both Trump lovers and Trump haters for doing so.”

“The U.S. Secret Service is facing money problems — but that's not President Donald Trump's fault, the agency's director said Monday, in response to a report that the First Family was straining protective resources,” Vitali writes.

The latest from North Korea, via the Wall Street Journal: “North Korea threatened to turn the U.S. into “huge heaps of ashes” and warned that military exercises involving American and South Korean forces this week had worsened the standoff, which could only be resolved by ‘absolute force.’”

OFF TO THE RACES: GOP to Trump: Stay out of AZ SEN race

POLITICO: “The Democratic National Committee is conducting full-scale opposition research on multiple Republicans it believes could challenge President Donald Trump for reelection — or are likely to run if he does not. The effort, which began in late spring, covers Vice President Mike Pence, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, among others.”

AL-SEN: Luther Strange says Confederate statues should stay in place.

AZ-SEN: GOP leaders want Donald Trump out of Jeff Flake’s race.

CO-7: Ed Perlmutter will run for re-election after all.

KS-GOV: Democrat Jim Ward is officially in for governor in Kansas.

MA-SEN: Beth Lindstrom, a former Romney aide, will challenge Elizabeth Warren.

NV-SEN: ICYMI from Jon Ralston: “In a stunning interview that aired Sunday morning on the program, “Politics Now,” Sen. Dean Heller took credit for saving the state’s Medicaid expansion and called the latest proposal he signed onto with Sens Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) “the drain the swamp” health-care bill.”

TX-23: Will Hurd is getting two more potential Democratic challengers.

WI-GOV: “State schools chief Tony Evers is officially entering the race for Wisconsin governor on Wednesday, the only candidate in a likely crowded Democratic primary who has won a statewide election.”

VA-GOV: The Washington Post: “Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer’s organization plans to spend at least $2 million to elect Democrat Ralph Northam as Virginia’s next governor, with a focus on turning out millennial voters. The California hedge-fund manager turned climate activist told The Washington Post that Virginia, which is holding the nation’s marquee gubernatorial contest this year, is the most important campaign priority for his group, NextGen America.”

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: “McAuliffe 'most likely' will pursue bill to remove Richmond's Lee statue.”