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First Read’s Morning Clips: Trump’s Policies vs. Personality

TRUMP AGENDA: Liking the policies but not the personality

One of us(!) on the results of our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: “A new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll of 439 key “Trump counties” from the most competitive states finds broad support for Trump’s proposals to keep jobs in America as well as his aggressive responses to North Korea's nuclear development and Syria's use of chemical weapons. But these same Americans give poor marks to Trump for his refusal to release his tax returns, his response to Russian interference in the 2016 election and particularly his shoot-from-the hip use of Twitter.”

Benjy Sarlin looks at some of the biggest questions about what happens next if the GOP can’t repeal Obamacare. And Leigh Ann Caldwell dissects how Mitch McConnell’s plan fell apart yesterday.

Alex Seitz-Wald notes that health insurers are very worried about the uncertainty coming from the Hill. “Insurers’ most immediate worry is the federal cost-sharing subsidies they’ve relied on to help make plans in the ACA’s exchanges more affordable. Trump has dubbed those funds "ransom money" and threatened to withhold them to hasten the collapse of Obamacare.”

The Washington Post: “The collapse of the effort marks a devastating political defeat for congressional Republicans and for President Trump, who had pledged to roll back the Affordable Care Act on “Day One” of his presidency. It also leaves millions of consumers who receive health insurance through the law in a kind of administrative limbo, wondering how their care will be affected now that the program is in the hands of government officials who have rooted openly for its demise.” And more: “The upheaval Monday night was a tipping point after weeks of burbling discontent within the party about whether passing the legislation made sense. Nearly every GOP senator was eager to check the box of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act they had long opposed — but many were also distressed by the possible costs of upending a law that has grown deep roots in states, risen in popularity and is relied upon by some Republican governors.”

Mitch McConnell’s reputation is taking a hit after the plan’s collapse, POLITICO writes.

The big picture, from Jeremy Peters in the New York Times: “Now, some of the conservative groups that helped Republicans win control of Washington, and that spent large sums of money and political capital pushing for the health care overhaul, are increasingly worried that their party’s inability to pass ambitious legislation will imperil its chances in next year’s elections. And they are beginning an aggressive and expensive campaign to promote new tax cuts, which they see as their last and best shot at enacting a major conservative policy before voters punish them.”

And don’t miss Amy Walter in the Cook Political Report on what we learned from the failure of the health care bill.

POLITICO: “House GOP leaders are resorting to Plan B on their spending strategy after falling woefully short of the support needed to pass a massive government funding package without Democratic votes. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday night that the House will vote next week on a measure that includes just four of the 12 bills needed to fund the federal government. That decision comes after GOP leaders failed to get enough Republican support to pass the full dozen without the help of their minority-party counterparts.”

Another explosive story last night, from Kristen Welker and Ali Vitali: “President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a second time during the G-20 summit earlier this month, a White House official confirmed to NBC News Tuesday. Trump spoke to Putin at the end of a couples-only social dinner at the summit in Hamburg, Germany, the official said, reiterating it was a social dinner. Pull-asides are typically less formal than official bilateral meetings, which Trump and Putin also shared. The White House did not previously disclose or offer a record of what was discussed during the meeting, which was first reported by Ian Bremmer, president of the international consulting firm Eurasia Group.”

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office has asked to meet with Ike Kaveladze, a businessman who works for a Russian billionaire and confirms he was in a meeting with top Trump campaign officials last summer,” writes NBC’s Tracy Connor.

Trump has nominated Jon Huntsman to be the ambassador to Russia.

NBC’s Dartunorro Clark: “House Democrats blasted President Donald Trump’s vote fraud commission Tuesday, demanding the dismissal of co-chair Kris Kobach ahead of the group's first public meeting Wednesday morning.”

“Democratic and Republic officials at a conference Tuesday said too many women are being incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, a troubling trend both groups said they were committed to tackling,” the Washington Post reports. “From Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Tex.) to Republican Rep. Mia Love (Utah) and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, there was bipartisan agreement that most of the women in jails and prison would be better served by drug rehabilitation and mental health services, rather than harsher sentences. They noted that most women in the criminal-justice system are victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence. And because most incarcerated women have small children, locking them away can destroy an already fragile family. The discussion came during a day-long conference called “Women Unshackled,” presented by the Justice Action Network and sponsored by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, the Coalition for Public Safety and Google.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Big bucks in Illinois

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that voters clearly prefer Democrats in control of Congress — but Republicans are still more motivated to show up at the polls.

AK-GOV: Social and fiscal conservative Mike Dunleavy has filed paperwork to run for governor.

AZ-SEN: One of Jeff Flake’s Democratic challengers is being targeted by vicious online harassment because she is Muslim, the Arizona Republic notes. Flake tweeted support for Deedra Abboud yesterday, saying: “Hang in there @deedra2018. Sorry you have to put up with this. Lots of wonderful people across AZ. You'll find them.”

IL-GOV: The Chicago Sun-Times: “Together, Pritzker, Rauner spending $120,000 a day on campaign.”

MI-GOV: POLITICO looks at a young gubernatorial candidate named Abdul El-Sayed.

University of Michigan Regent Mark Bernstein won’t run and will endorse likely Democratic front-runner Gretchen Whitmer.

MD-GOV: Maya Rockeymoore, the wife of Elijiah Cummings, is considering a run for governor.

VA-GOV: Ed Gillespie has a significant cash advantage over Ralph Northam

WV-SEN: Republicans could see their first competitive GOP primary in modern history.