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Trump rages at own policies — and John Kelly

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.
Then White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and President Donald Trump depart the Oval on July 18, 2018.Tasos Katopodis / AFP - Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Yes, President Donald Trump’s purge at the Department of Homeland Security is another example of the chaos inside the administration.

And, yes, it’s a reflection of its immigration failures, as we said yesterday.

But it’s also simpler than that: It appears Trump is throwing a tantrum — when it comes to his border policies and his former chief of staff, John Kelly.

Regarding the policies: “President Donald Trump has for months urged his administration to reinstate large-scale separation of migrant families crossing the border, according to three U.S. officials with knowledge of meetings at the White House,” NBC’s Julia Ainsley and Geoff Bennett reported. “Trump's outgoing Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, resisted — setting her at odds with the president.”

Regarding Kelly: "Rich Staropoli, a former Secret Service agent and former senior Homeland Security Department official under Trump, said the president appears to be booting several key people who got their jobs at the urging of former White House chief of staff John F. Kelly," the Washington Post writes.

“[Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles] was pushed by John Kelly,” Staropoli said, per the Post. “The president likes generals. But now it looks like he’s cleaning house.”

And now Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is warning Trump NOT to oust another DHS official, Lee Francis Cissna, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Grassley isn’t someone with whom Trump wants to pick a fight…

It’s Election Day in Israel

Today’s election represents more than Benjamin Netanyahu trying to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister — and certainly more than Trump trying to get his preferred choice (Netanyahu) to win.

At stake is arguably the future of the West Bank — after Netanyahu promised to extend sovereignty to parts of it if he’s re-elected.

“Do voters want to make permanent their country’s control over the West Bank and its 2.6 million Palestinian inhabitants? Or do they want to keep alive the possibility that a Palestinian state could be carved out there one day?” The New York Times asked.

The Washington Post adds that voting sites in Israel opened today “with final opinion polls giving an edge to the party led by Netanyahu’s main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz.”

“While the polls suggest that Gantz’s party will win the most seats in parliament, Netanyahu still seems to be in a stronger position to assemble a governing coalition, which is what ultimately matters.”

How the U.S. interfered in Israel’s election

Speaking of foreign countries interfering in another country’s election ... here's how the president of the United States took action to benefit Netanyahu before today:

  1. Trump hosted Netanyahu at the White House (but not Gantz).
  2. Trump recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.
  3. And the president designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.

Our question: If Gantz wins, what will Trump’s relationship with him look like after this?

The other question: If Netanyahu wins, what is Trump expecting to get in return?

Klobuchar rakes in $5.2 million for the first quarter

2020 presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar announced yesterday that she raised more than $5.2 million for the first fundraising quarter (Jan. 1 through March 31).

She also said has $7 million in the bank (after transferring funds from her Senate account).

Here’s how Klobuchar’s haul stacks against the other 2020 candidates who have revealed their topline Q1 fundraising numbers:

Total raised

  • Bernie Sanders: $18.2 million in 41 days
  • Kamala Harris: $12 million in 70 days
  • Beto O’Rourke: $9.4 million in 18 days
  • Pete Buttigieg: $7 million in 68 days
  • Amy Klobuchar: $5.2 million in 50 days
  • Cory Booker: $5 million-plus in 59 days

Total raised (average per day)

  • O’Rourke: $552K
  • Sanders: $444K
  • Harris: $171K
  • Klobuchar: $104K
  • Buttigieg: $103K
  • Booker: $85K+

2020 Vision: Swalwell’s in, too

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., became the latest Democrat on Monday to announce he’s running for president in what’s already a crowded field, NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald writes.

"I see a country in quicksand, unable to solve problems and threats from abroad, unable to make life better for people here at home. Nothing gets done," he told comedian Stephen Colbert on his late-night show. "I'm ready to solve these problems — I'm running for president of the United States."

Seitz-Wald adds that Swalwell plans to make gun control a top issue in the race.

“Swalwell has also made gun control a focus of his career and is due to hold a town hall Tuesday in Parkland, Florida, the site of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”

On the campaign trail today: Kirsten Gillibrand participates in a town hall on CNN … Eric Swalwell holds a town hall on gun violence in Florida … And Howard Schultz is in Kansas.

Tweet of the day

By the way, this isn’t the first time Cruz has committed this kind of Twitter jinx. Here was his tweet before last year’s Game 7 between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors.

Golden State won.

Data Download: The number of the day is … 52 percent.

Fifty-two percent.

That’s the share of Virginia registered voters who want Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to stay in office after a blackface scandal rocked his administration, according to a new Wason Center poll.

Forty-two percent of Virginia voters — including 29 percent of Democrats — say he should step down.

Despite the slight majority who stay that he should stay in office, Northam’s approval rating has suffered as a result of the high-profile scandal, with his disapproval jumping from 24 percent to 49 percent since December.

The same poll also finds that 42 percent of voters believe Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax should resign in the wake of sexual assault allegations, compared with 45 percent who said he should stay in office.

The Lid: I’m the Taxman

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at how Americans feel about their taxes — and how much partisanship plays a role.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

Stephen Miller is the last man standing on Trump’s immigration policy team.

Chuck Grassley is not happy with the purge of immigration officials.

A federal judge has blocked Trump’s policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico while their requests are being adjudicated.

AG William Barr will appear before members of Congress today (for a budget hearing.)

Marcia Lee Kelly has been named president and CEO of the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Other news that’s out there…

Trump agenda: Full? Or empty?

Trump says America is “full.” Much of the country actually has the opposite problem.

The Chinese woman who was recently arrested at Mar-a-Lago repeatedly lied to Secret Service agents and had a device that detects hidden cameras.

The Washington Post delves into Trump’s long-standing feud with Jerry Nadler. (It has to do with a New York real estate project.)

The Trump Organization is still trying to quietly eliminate undocumented members of its work force.

The federal government isn’t really going along with the White House’s plan to challenge climate change science.

2020: Break on through to the other side…

Kirsten Gillibrand is hoping for a breakthrough moment during a CNN town hall.

So far, there aren’t major signs of Biden’s support in early states slipping too much.

Cory Booker picked up his first legislative endorsement in New Hampshire.

Here’s how Bernie Sanders answered a question about open borders.