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TRUMP AGENDA: Trump versus Schiff

NBC’s Mike Memoli delves into the rivalry between Trump and Adam Schiff.

Border security talks have broken down just days before a new shutdown deadline.

One of us(!) writes about how Trump’s rhetoric on the border is different than the reality on the ground.

Gavin Newsom is ordering National Guard troops back from the border.

It sure looks like Robert Mueller is honing in on conversations between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik.

Millions of Americans are realizing their tax refunds are shrinking.

Rep. Walter Jones has died.

DEM AGENDA: Latest in the chaos in Virginia

Ralph Northam’s early life offers some clues about his views on race.

The effort to impeach Justin Fairfax appears to be on pause for the moment.

What exactly is in the Green New Deal?

Ilhan Omar is under fire for a new round of comments criticizing Israel.

2020: What moderates want from the Dem field

NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald notes that moderate Democrats are seeking a way to own the middle.

Taxing the rich has become a defining issue for 2020 Democrats, writes NBC’s Benjy Sarlin.

Amy Klobuchar made it official.

Republican lawmakers are singing Klobuchar’s praises.

The New York Times has a deep dive into Kamala Harris’s effort to define herself amid a reputation for cautiousness.

Elizabeth Warren said that Trump “may not even be a free person” by 2020.

Is America ready for a single president?

Opposition to Trump has created an epic year for women in politics, POLITICO writes.

Seth Moulton says he’s “taking a hard look” at a run.

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Pelosi knocks ‘Moscow Mitch’ for blocking gun, election interference bills



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday slammed “Moscow Mitch” — a derisive nickname for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — for blocking bills aimed at preventing gun violence and foreign election interference.

“We all want to invest in building our democracy and saving it from any enemies foreign and domestic, so we’ve sent our legislation to the Senate,” Pelosi said at an Illinois Democrats’ “Democrat Day” event in Springfield. “‘Moscow Mitch’ says that he is the ‘Grim Reaper” … that he’s going to bury all this legislation. Well, we have news for him. All this legislation is alive and well in the general public.”

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been sharply criticized in recent weeks after he blocked two election security bills that Democrats put forward after former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony on Russian election interference.

Mueller warned that Russia was already preparing to interfere in the 2020 election “as we sit here,” calling the Kremlin’s efforts “the new normal.”

Critics of McConnell have been using the nickname “Moscow Mitch” to suggest that he is giving cover to Russian President Vladimir Putin. McConnell has expressed anger about the nickname, comparing the attacks to “modern-day McCarthyism.”

McConnell has also drawn criticism from Democrats for blocking the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would create new background check requirements for gun transfers between unlicensed individuals. It passed the Democrat-controlled House in February, 240-190.

Pelosi’s call to action comes as Democrats ramp up pressure on the Senate to pass a universal background check bill after two shootings this month in Dayton, Ohio, and in El Paso, Texas, left at least 29 dead and more than 50 injured in a matter of just 13 hours. The Senate is currently in recess until September. McConnell, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, has not signaled that he intends to end the break.

“We must pass gun violence prevention legislation,” Pelosi, a California Democrat, said. “Every day we lose lives.”

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Trump in talks with key senators on gun control legislation



WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has been in talks with key members of the Senate on potential gun control legislation in the wake of mass shootings that left more than 30 dead this month.

Among the senators with whom Trump has been discussing a proposed bill, according to a senior administration official, are Chris Murphy, D-Conn., one of the Senate’s leading gun control advocates, along with Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., two authors of a 2013 background checks bill that failed to pass in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

White House and Senate aides have also been meeting to discuss the issue, marking the most substantive talks the Trump administration has had to date on gun control policy. The meetings were first reported by The New York Times.

Trump said last week that he had “tremendous support” for possible new measures to tighten background checks on gun buyers, claiming that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a traditional opponent of such laws, was backing the effort.

“I spoke to Mitch McConnell yesterday. He’s totally on board. He said, ‘I’ve been waiting for your call,’” Trump told reporters Aug. 9 before leaving the White House for his summer retreat in Bedminster, New Jersey. “I spoke to senators that in some cases, friends of mine, but pretty hard-line senators … hard-line on the Second Amendment.”

“And they understand, we don’t want insane people, mentally ill people, bad people, dangerous people, we don’t want guns in the hands of the wrong people,” Trump said.

After the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead, the president at first indicated he could support tightening background checks for gun buyers, but backed away and instead threw his support behind a proposal to arm and train some teachers on how to use firearms and called for institutionalizing mentally ill people believed to be capable of violence. Trump has also moved to ban bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire continuously like machine guns.

In February, the Democratic-controlled House passed two bills that would have tightened background checks on gun buyers, but the GOP-controlled Senate never took up either of the bills, and Trump had promised to veto the legislation.

The president, his daughter Ivanka Trump and senior White House officials began conversations last week with key senators about what legislative action could be taken on gun control, and this week conversations began at the staff level to begin hammering out the details.

On background checks, the White House is looking to model a bill after the Toomey-Manchin legislation that failed following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, according to a senior administration official. Even though the bill wasn’t successful, the White House says it believes it has a good policy framework and bipartisan support.

The White House isn’t considering asking Congress to pass a federal “red flag” law, according to the official, but rather talking about working with lawmakers to assemble a framework for states to follow if they choose to put in place their own such laws.

The White House is also working with Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., who heads the Judiciary Committee, on potential changes to the federal death penalty statute.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was also present for a White House meeting on the issue Tuesday, his spokesman Taylor Haulsee told NBC News on Wednesday. Alexander is among the chairmen McConnell tasked with coming up with legislative solutions to address gun violence.

“I am writing to ask for your recommendations on bipartisan proposals within the HELP committee’s jurisdiction that could help prevent future mass shootings like the recent tragedies in California, Texas, and Ohio,” Alexander wrote in a letter obtained by NBC to his committee members on Friday.

Alexander said that he has asked his committee staff “to evaluate existing mental health and school safety programs, including current appropriated funding levels for these programs, and to examine bills that have been introduced within the Committee’s jurisdiction so we may begin to look for bipartisan proposals to provide possible solutions to this crisis.”

In addition, the White House has been reaching out to members of Congress to discuss actions that could be taken on mental health and violence in video games and entertainment, though no specific legislation is being proposed on either front yet.

McConnell, who has been resistant to take up gun control legislation, has been involved with the White House in the process. Trump has been hearing criticism from advisers and allies over the political and policy risks that exploring new gun legislation could bring, according to the official, but is so far unmoved.

Rebecca Shabad contributed.

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Hickenlooper expected to leave presidential race, source says



Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to drop out of the Democratic presidential race on Thursday, a source close to Hickenlooper told NBC News on Wednesday night.

Hickenlooper, who has struggled to top 1 percent in polling among Democratic candidates, is widely believed to be considering switching races to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. Polls indicate Hickenlooper would enter the Senate campaign with a large lead.

Early this month, Hickenlooper, 67, said in a Sirius radio interview that if he couldn’t crack 2 percent in the Democratic field, “I’d be a fool to spend two years” running for president.

NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver reported this month that a Colorado political consultant had reserved several “Hickenlooper for Senate” web addresses.

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