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First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted “I don’t see a deal!” with Democrats. And what happened? Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi skipped a meeting with Trump to discuss avoiding a government shutdown — which seems more likely today than it did before that tweet.
Then, on Wednesday morning, he retweeted three anti-Muslim tweets from a far-right political figure in Britain, which drew a rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May. And on Wednesday night, Trump replied to May, “@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”
Trump’s reply to May appeared to make British politicians even angrier this morning. "This is the president of the United States, sharing with millions inflammatory and divisive content, deliberately posted to sow hatred and division by a convicted criminal who is facing further charges, who represents a vile, fascist organization seeking to spread hatred and violence in person and online,” said a Labour member of parliament. "By sharing it, he is either a racist, incompetent or unthinking — or all three.”
As NBC’s Hallie Jackson put it on “Today” this morning, “Trump’s tweets have consequences.” And this morning, Trump is tweeting about North Korea and “Little Rocket Man,” saying: “The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man. Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.”
Don’t forget: Just 23 percent of Americans said they approved of Trump’s use of Twitter, according to September’s NBC/WSJ poll — one of his lowest scores in the entire poll.
But as the Washington Post writes, if Trump’s tweets have consequences, he isn’t feeling them personally. “Trump has internalized the belief that he can largely operate with impunity, people close to him said. His political base cheers him on. Fellow Republican leaders largely stand by him. His staff scrambles to explain away his misbehavior — or even to laugh it off. And the White House disciplinarian, chief of staff John F. Kelly, has said it is not his job to control the president.”
As Trump tweets, Senate Republicans get closer to passing their tax plan
Indeed, congressional Republicans are getting closer and closer to passing their tax plan. It’s a bipolar situation — Trump sowing chaos, while congressional Republicans are focused on taxes.
While momentum grows for Senate Republicans to pass their tax plan, there are still some issues they need to iron out. The Wall Street Journal: “Senate Republicans are considering whether to cut the corporate tax rate less deeply than President Donald Trump has demanded, a move that could make it easier to pass the tax bill they voted to begin debating Wednesday. One of the most significant unresolved issues is whether the corporate tax rate should be set above the 20% threshold Mr. Trump has sought and how aggressively the administration would fight an attempt to set it higher. A final vote in the Senate could come as early as Thursday night.”
Trump says he won’t benefit from tax plan. That just isn’t true
While pitching the tax overhaul in Missouri yesterday, Trump said he won’t benefit from the plan. But as NBC’s Adam Edelman writes, the president’s assertion just isn’t true.
“In fact, Trump and his family could save more than $1 billion under the House tax plan that passed two weeks ago, according to an NBC News analysis. And under the Senate plan, the wealthiest Americans, like Trump, would get nearly 62 percent of all of its benefits by 2027, while two-thirds of middle-class Americans would face a tax increase, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.”
“Meanwhile, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the poorest Americans would be worse off under the Senate tax plan, because they would no longer receive tax credits under the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which the bill would eliminate.”
Democrats blew the opportunity to have the high ground on sexual harassment
On “Today” this morning, one of the women accusing Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., of misconduct publicly spoke out against the congressman. "It was sexual harassment, violating my body ... propositioning me for sex," said Marion Brown.
Brown’s interview drives home this point: By not forcefully denouncing Conyers, Democrats blew their opportunity for the high ground on sexual harassment and the treatment of women.
After Trump and Roy Moore, they had a real opportunity for the high ground here. But they blew it.
Nikki Haley: North Korea will be “utterly destroyed” if war comes
Some bellicose rhetoric from UN Ambassador Nikki Haley: "We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it," she said at an emergency UN Security Council meeting yesterday, per NBC’s Phil Helsel and Abigail Williams. "If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday."
"And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed," Haley continued. "The nations of the world have it within their power to further isolate, diminish and, God willing, reverse the dangerous course of the North Korean regime."
Roy Moore says allegations against him are a conspiracy
The dispatch from NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard: “On Wednesday night from the pulpit of a church, Roy Moore called the allegations against him ‘a conspiracy,’ placing blame on liberals, LGBT individuals, the Washington establishment, a retired Gadsden police officer whose son was shot and killed, and a former food writer for the Washington Post for concocting the ‘malicious’ attacks against him. He referred to this collection of conspiratorial entities as ‘the other side’ with an ‘agenda.’ He called the allegations a product of ‘simply dirty politics.’”
“‘Now when I say they — who are they?’ Moore rhetorically asked the gathered congregation of about 100 at Magnolia Springs Baptist Church in Theodore, Alabama. “They are liberals — they don't want conservative values. They're the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender who want to change our culture. They're socialists who want to change our way of life, putting man above God...They are the Washington establishment."
How much is the issue of abortion hurting Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama?
Not that much among persuadable voters, according to a poll commissioned for Planned Parenthood. Per this poll — conducted November 4-5 by Clarity Campaign Labs (so before the allegations against Roy Moore first surfaced), 19 percent of Moore voters said they considered voting for Democrat Doug Jones.
And among that persuadable pool of Moore voters, 8 percent identified abortion as the reason why they ultimately sided against Jones — so less than 1 percent of the likely voter electorate in the poll.
That 8 percent citing abortion was behind other/general dislike (36 percent), unsure (27 percent), and personal history (10%).
The same poll found 62 percent of Alabama voters opposing legal abortion, so abortion is definitely an issue in the race. But the poll suggests that it isn’t an issue among persuadable voters who might have considered voting for Jones.
By the way, the Nov 4-5 poll had Moore leading Jones by 7 points, 45 percent to 38 percent.