TRUMP AGENDA: An Extraordinary Rift
Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Moe sum up the tensions between the White House and Congress: "President Donald Trump's stepped-up attacks against Senate Republicans are threatening the fall's busy legislative agenda and any cooperation that remains between them."
The New York Times: "President Trump has widened an extraordinary rift with his own party, as he threatened a government shutdown over his long-promised border wall and attacked key lawmakers whose votes he needs heading into a crucial legislative period. The escalating tensions between the Republican president and the Republican Congress endanger delicate negotiations in the coming weeks to overhaul the tax system, keep the government running and avoid a costly default on the country's debt. They are the clearest signs to date that the uncomfortable alliance between Mr. Trump, who won the presidency promising to "drain the swamp," and Republican lawmakers who hoped to enact long-stalled conservative priorities, has begun to fray."
The Washington Post's Phil Rucker on Trump whiplash: "Like a contestant on one of his reality TV shows, Trump has taken on contrasting personas, showcasing divergent traits with flourishes seemingly to survive another day of his beleaguered presidency. Or, as Trump the television producer might put it, to keep up the ratings."
"President Donald Trump privately vented his frustration over Russia-related matters with at least two other Republican senators this month, according to people familiar with the conversations — in addition to the president's public admonishments of Mitch McConnell, John McCain and Jeff Flake," POLITICO reports.
The Wall Street Journal: "The White House is expected to send guidance to the Pentagon in coming days on how to implement a new administration ban on transgender people in the military, issuing a policy that will allow Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to consider a service member's ability to deploy in deciding whether to kick them out of the military. The White House memo also directs the Pentagon to deny admittance to transgender individuals and to stop spending on medical treatment regimens for those currently serving, according to U.S. officials familiar with the document. The 2½-page memo gives Mr. Mattis six months to prepare to fully implement the new ban, according to these officials."
CNN: "Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide that referenced a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter."
From Ali Vitali and Corky Siemaszko: "Two weeks ago, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency and called it "a serious problem the likes of which we have never had." … "We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," the president insisted. But so far, Trump hasn't formally signed such a declaration and sent it to Congress."
POLITICO reports on John Kelly's attempts to institute a system controlling information that gets to the president's desk.
Bloomberg writes: "Trump's appointment of Kelly has imposed new order on a White House that had been riven with infighting among warring camps. But it hasn't been the political lifeline Republican allies had hoped for, as Kelly has so far been unable to perform one of the chief of staff's most basic duties: to stop a president from following his worst instincts."
The AP reports on Jared Kushner's round of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Rabbis will boycott a conference call with Trump, writes the New York Times.
NBC's Petra Cahill asks if Trump's former lawyer can help bring peace to the Middle East.
OFF TO THE RACES: DNC Hits Both Trump and Pence in New Ad
Don't miss this new video from the DNC hitting BOTH Trump and Mike Pence.
AL-SEN: Roy Moore told the Daily Caller (without evidence) that Mitch McConnell is trying to let Democrats vote in the Republican primary to boost Luther Strange.
Democratic nominee Doug Jones says the Confederate monument issue should be decided by counties and cities.
AZ-SEN: POLITICO reports that Trump met with several possible challengers to Jeff Flake backstage at his Phoenix rally.
IN-SEN: From the Indy Star: "The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent a mariachi-style band to play outside Sen. Joe Donnelly's campaign stop in the Indiana city. The five-person band was joined by about three other people holding signs that said "Made in Mexico USA" and "Outsource Donnelly out of DC." Donnelly was criticized after the Associated Press reported he profited from a family business that outsourced labor to Mexico. Donnelly sold his stock in the company shortly after."
NV-SEN: Dean Heller opposes a pardon for Joe Arpaio.
VA-GOV: The Washington Post sums up the nasty fight between the Virginia GOP and Ralph Northam over Confederate statues. (The party has apologized.)