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First Read's Morning Clips: Twelve Days of Silence

A roundup of the most important political stories of the day
Image: US President Donald J. Trump meets with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
President Donald J. Trump waits to greet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as he arrives at the White House in Washington on Oct. 17, 2017. President Trump and Prime Minister Tsipras will discuss economic and defense cooperation between the two countries.Shawn Thew / EPA

TRUMP AGENDA: 12 Days of Silence

Making waves this morning: “A Florida congresswoman said that the family of a U.S. service member killed in Niger was "astonished" when President Donald Trump suggested in a phone call that the soldier "must've known what he signed up for." Rep. Frederica Wilson told NBC Miami that she heard the president's comment to Sgt. La David T. Johnson's widow, Myeshia, on speaker phone as they traveled together to meet his body on Tuesday.” More: “In a radio interview on Tuesday, Trump defended his claim by alluding to former Gen. John Kelly's son, a Marine who died in Afghanistan in November 2010. A current White House official told NBC News on Tuesday that Obama did not call Kelly after the death of his son. But a person familiar with the breakfast for Gold Star families — the term for those who have lost loved ones during military service — at the White House on May 30, 2011, told NBC News that Kelly and his wife attended the private event and were seated at first lady Michelle Obama's table.”

The AP: “The Associated Press found relatives of two soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received a call or a letter from him, as well as relatives of a third who did not get a call. And proof is plentiful that Barack Obama and George W. Bush — saddled with far more combat casualties than the roughly two dozen so far under Trump, took painstaking steps to write, call or meet bereaved military families.”

The Washington Post outlines Trump’s 12 days of silence on the deaths in Niger.

POLITICO: “A bipartisan deal in Congress offers a glimmer of stability for the Obamacare insurance markets. But for it to become law, each party will need to declare a victory — and President Donald Trump will have to agree to prop up a law he just spent months trying to repeal.”

The Washington Post: “The White House’s push for tax cuts made crucial progress on Tuesday as Senate Republicans rallied behind a budget proposal the party needs to pass to keep alive its hopes of enacting sharp reductions in tax rates later this year. Senate Republican leaders earned a series of much-needed victories Tuesday, first with the return of ailing Sen. Thad Cochran (R - Miss.) and later with an announcement from Sen. John McCain (R - Ariz.) that he would back the budget resolution in order to help passage of tax cuts. Senate Republicans are now hopeful they can agree on a final budget resolution later this week, which is a key procedural step to help them pass a tax cut plan later in the year without relying on support from any Democrats.”

And the latest on the health care CSR fix, via the New York Times: “Two leading senators, hoping to stabilize teetering health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, reached a bipartisan deal on Tuesday to fund critical subsidies to insurers that President Trump moved just days ago to cut off. At the White House, virtually as the deal was being announced, Mr. Trump voiced support for it while insisting that he would try again to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health law.”

And from the Wall Street Journal: “With enrollment for 2018 Affordable Care Act health-insurance plans starting in just two weeks, insurers are bracing for a drop-off among consumers put off by higher rates, confusion about the law’s standing and a shorter window to choose coverage. Companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Florida Blue and Medica are rushing to shore up their customer base as the future of the 2010 health law continues to be debated on Capitol Hill, where two senators Tuesday announced a tentative deal aimed at bolstering the ACA marketplaces. The insurers are using advertising, letters, emails and other outreach techniques to reassure enrollees about their insurance options under the ACA in 2018.”

“White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter said,” according to the Washington Post. “The documents, which were obtained by The Washington Post, were prepared and distributed by Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. They were presented without any data or information to back up the assertions, and reveal some of the materials the Trump administration reviewed as it was crafting its trade policy.”

A federal judge has temporarily frozen most of Trump’s third travel ban.

The Wall Street Journal previews Jeff Sessions’ appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sean Spicer has been interviewed by Bob Mueller’s team, writes POLITICO.

Via Ari Melber’s team: “A prominent exiled Russian oligarch said in an exclusive interview with NBC News that he is nearly certain Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign, and that he believes a top Russian banker was not "acting on his own behalf" when he held a controversial meeting with Jared Kushner last December.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Tied up in Alabama

From POLITICO, on Steve Bannon’s quest for donors: “Over the past several weeks, Bannon has crisscrossed the country meeting with dozens of the party’s biggest contributors — all in the hopes of capitalizing on their anger at McConnell. The populist bomb-thrower wants donors to bankroll primary challenges against Republican incumbents, or, short of that, to close their wallets to McConnell-aligned causes. Bannon has gone to New York City to talk with venture capitalist John Childs, who plowed nearly $400,000 into McConnell’s 2014 reelection. In Colorado, he huddled with Gore-Tex heiress Susan Gore, a major backer of libertarian causes. And Bannon met with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the GOP’s most prominent donor, for several hours when he swung through Washington this month. While in Arizona this week, Bannon met with investor Eric Crown, a longtime backer of Senate GOP causes.”

AL-SEN: Last night’s big AL-SEN polling news: “Republican Roy Moore, the anti-Republican establishment candidate, is tied at 42 percent apiece with Democrat Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate race in deep-red Alabama. A Fox News Poll also finds that among just the 53 percent of Alabama registered voters who are extremely or very interested in the race, Jones has a one-point edge over Moore (46-45 percent).”

AZ-SEN: From the Arizona Republic: “Steve Bannon on Tuesday rallied Arizona’s conservative grass-roots activists on behalf of Kelli Ward’s insurgent Republican campaign against GOP incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake. It was the biggest indicator to date that the allies of President Donald Trump are settling on Ward as their preferred challenger to Flake. Bannon, Trump’s controversial former White House strategist and the man many credit with his unlikely victory in the presidential race, ripped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and vowed that the Republican elite are destined to "reap the whirlwind" and "that whirlwind is Kelli Ward."

NJ-GOV: A Fox News poll shows Republican Kim Guadagno trailing Democrat Phil Murphy by 14 points.

TN-SEN: “U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is in the early stages of looking at the impact of a law that some say provided less scrutiny of drug companies and distributors. In a statement to the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee on Tuesday, an aide to Blackburn said, "We are in process of gathering information and Congressman Blackburn will quickly work to address any unintended consequences from the legislation." The latest comment from Blackburn, who recently launched her bid for U.S. Senate, comes after she faced scrutiny this week in the aftermath of a joint investigation by "60 Minutes" and The Washington Post. The investigation featured a whistleblower who accused the Tennessee Republican and other congressional lawmakers of passing the law that led to lax scrutiny and a rise in opioid deaths.”

VA-GOV: Barack Obama will rally with Ralph Northam on Thursday evening.

Northam has a hefty cash advantage over Ed Gillespie.

Three polls were released Tuesday in the VA GOV race:

  • Roanoke: Northam 50 percent, Gillespie 44 percent
  • Wason Center: Northam 48 percent, Gillespie 44 percent
  • Monmouth: Gillespie 48 percent, Northam 47 percent