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First Read's Morning Clips: Trump's Lawyer Speaks Out

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Jay Sekulow
Jay Sekulow on Meet the Press.

TRUMP AGENDA: Trump lawyer insists president isn’t under investigation

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, one of Trump’s attorneys insisted that the president is not under investigation.

Tech execs are heading to the White House. “Top executives from the tech industry are coming to the White House on Monday for meetings aimed at updating federal computer systems, part of a push to save money, guard against cyberattacks and make government websites easier to use,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “Executives including Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella are expected to attend and spend hours in small working groups before meeting with President Donald Trump to talk about their conclusions.”

The New York Times: “President Trump threatens to upend the post-World War II foreign policy order, but Congress is working to ensure that American foreign policy remains rooted in the trans-Atlantic alliance against traditional rivals like Russia.”

“In August, as tension mounted over Russia’s role in the U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sat down to dinner with a business associate from Ukraine who once served in the Russian army. Konstantin Kilimnik, who learned English at a military school that some experts consider a training ground for Russian spies, had helped run the Ukraine office for Manafort’s international political consulting practice for 10 years,” writes the Washington Post. More: “Kilimnik, who provided a written statement to The Washington Post through Manafort’s attorney, said the previously unreported dinner was one of two meetings he had with Manafort on visits to the United States during Manafort’s five months working for Trump. The first encounter was in early May 2016, about two weeks before the Trump adviser was elevated to campaign chairman.”

POLITICO: “The CIA director’s treks to the West Wing reflect Trump’s insistence on frequent meetings with favored members of his team. Every president has regular contact with key Cabinet members, but Trump, who remains deeply mistrustful of career agency officials, has turned the White House into a hangout for his chosen department heads.”

Dan Balz writes on the rural divide in the Washington Post: “Even in areas of the country where Trump scored some of his biggest margins, he is a divisive figure — loved by his supporters but disliked by many who voted for Hillary Clinton. Four in 10 adults in rural America disapprove of his job performance, a hefty number for a president still in the early stages of his tenure.”

Jared Kushner will travel to the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal: “The trip marks the White House’s first major follow up to Mr. Trump’s trip to the region last month and suggests Mr. Kushner’s policy portfolio is far from shrinking despite scrutiny by federal investigators into his meetings with Russian officials. Mr. Kushner plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to discuss “their priorities and potential next steps” in the peace process, the White House official said.”

Speaking of Kushner, the New York Times reports that he’s looking to expand his legal team.

The Washington Post outlines what’s changing in Trump’s Cuba plan.

An NBC News exclusive: “Watergate prosecutors had evidence that operatives for then-President Richard Nixon planned an assault on anti-war demonstrators in 1972, including potentially physically attacking Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, according to a never-before-published memo obtained by NBC News. The document, an 18-page 1973 investigative memorandum from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, sheds new light on how prosecutors were investigating attempts at domestic political violence by Nixon aides, an extremely serious charge. NBC News is publishing the memo, and an accompanying memo about an interview prosecutors conducted with GOP operative Roger Stone, as part of special coverage for the 45th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Boy, that escalated quickly

GA-6: NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald looks at how the Georgia race escalated so quickly.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution calculates that the race now costs more than $50 million.

From McClatchy: “If Ossoff wins Tuesday’s special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, he’ll have done so because he harnessed the unbridled enthusiasm of the progressive left while carefully avoiding its most polarizing positions.”

“Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel strongly condemned an attack ad that surfaced Sunday accusing the ‘unhinged left’ of endorsing violence against Republicans days before the nationally-watched race to represent Georgia’s 6th District is decided,” writes the AJC. “The ad, funded by a little-known group called the Principled PAC, opens with sounds of gunshots and footage of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise being wheeled away on a stretcher after he and other members of the Republican congressional baseball team were ambushed by a lone gunman while practicing in a Washington suburb.”

NJ-GOV: spoke to two former governors about the gubernatorial race.

SC-5: The State: “Despite the swirling investigations and controversies surrounding the Trump administration, the conservative base remains strongly, and defensively, in the president’s corner, a dynamic vividly on display here in the Fifth District. Unless and until that changes in districts like this across the country, strategists say, it’s unlikely Trump will see significant backlash from lawmakers in his own party, no matter how rough the storyline or how intense the frustrations of those Republicans who worry about a bad national environment for the party headed into 2018, fueled by the president’s unpopularity.”

VA-GOV: Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello held their unity event on Saturday.