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First Read's Morning Clips: Trump Wanted Tenfold Nuclear Increase

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Nuclear Warhead
In this file photo taken June 25, 2014, Master Sgt. Tad Wagner, looks over an inert Minuteman 3 missile in a training launch tube at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.Charlie Riedel / AP file

TRUMP AGENDA: Wanting a bigger nuclear stockpile

An NBC News exclusive, from Courtney Kube, Kristen Welker, Carol Lee and Savannah Guthrie: “President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room. Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve. According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.”

NBC’s Jonathan Allen and Alex Seitz-Wald report on how Trump is alienating one Republican at a time.

The president’s day today, via the AP: “President Donald Trump will pitch his tax plan as a boon for truckers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Wednesday — the latest stop on a cross-country tour aimed at selling his tax reform proposal. Trump will be speaking in front of an audience of roughly 1,000 people, including lots of truckers, against a backdrop of big rigs at a local air plane hangar, according to the White House. Trump is pitching a plan that would dramatically cut corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent, reduce the number of personal income tax brackets and boost the standard deduction.”

The New York Times: “Republicans are staggering, knocked off kilter by internecine conflict between President Trump and his own party in Congress. Incumbents are under aggressive challenge from conservative activists. Frustrated veteran lawmakers are bailing out. Given the swirling tumult, one political and legislative reality is suddenly becoming crystal clear: Republicans must deliver a tax cut or face an epic backlash that would pose a significant threat to their governing majority and long-term political health.”

The Wall Street Journal has the latest on the NAFTA renegotiation talks.

From Kevin Dilanian and Alex Moe: “Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, issued subpoenas to a U.S. firm involved in the Donald Trump dossier without consulting the Democrats on the committee, three people familiar with the matter told NBC News.”

Peter Baker, in the New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s West Wing has always seemed to be the crossroads between cutthroat politics and television drama, presided over by a seasoned showman who has made a career of keeping the audience engaged and coming back for more. Obsessed by ratings and always on the hunt for new story lines, Mr. Trump leaves the characters on edge, none of them ever really certain whether they might soon be voted off the island.”

POLITICO notes that Republicans are urging Trump and Corker to lay off the feud.

The Washington Post looks at Tom Barrack’s relationship with Trump.

Trump’s PR push about Puerto Rico is leaving a lot out, writes the Washington Post. “The selectively edited compilation shows the extent to which Trump and his administration are portraying the federal government’s handling of the disaster in Puerto Rico in the best possible light, despite the enduring power, water and health problems there nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the video and its formation.”

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal in one of the travel ban cases, saying the earlier version of the ban is moot because it has since been replaced.

The White House says Trump’s comments about an IQ test against Rex Tillerson was “a joke.”

And keep track of all the latest on the Harvey Weinstein allegations here.

OFF TO THE RACES: Susan Collins set to make big announcement on Friday

In POLITICO: “Democratic senators fighting to hold on to their seats next year are increasingly worried about a troubling reality: Russia appears set to mess with U.S. elections — again. The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned last week that Russia's second straight attempt to upend a major election appears certain. They pointed to hacked emails, fake news stories and other evidence of interference in France, Montenegro and elsewhere over the past year as signs Moscow remains determined to monkey with voting.”

AL-SEN: Roy Moore’s campaign says that the latest arrest of his son is a “cheap political trick.”

Tim Kaine launched a fundraising pitch for Doug Jones.

ME-SEN: Susan Collins will announce whether she’ll run for Senate or governor on Friday.

Former independent candidate Shawn Moody is joining the Republican Party with an eye on a possible governor’s run, too.

NE-SEN: Steve Bannon wants to target Deb Fischer from the right. But hard-line conservatives say they’re happy with the job she’s doing.

NJ-GOV: sums up last night’s gubernatorial debate: “Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, trailing in the polls and still seeking to forge an identity separate from her boss, brought her campaign pledge to lower property taxes to a wider audience on Tuesday night while attacking Democratic nominee Phil Murphy as an out-of-touch and cowardly liberal destined to ruin New Jersey’s economy. Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. ambassador to Germany, matched Guadagno’s charges in the first debate of the governor’s race with the undeniable truth that many voters have said they find unappealing: She is the lieutenant governor under Chris Christie, the least popular governor in modern New Jersey history. Murphy reminded the audience that Christie and Guadagno have been in office for 2,821 days, and said repeatedly that it is too late for her to try separating herself from Christie and his policies.”

TN-SEN: Twitter will allow Marsha Blackburn to promote her announcement video after all.

VA-GOV: Joe Biden will campaign for Northam over the weekend.