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September 13, 2017

In special elections on Tuesday, Democrats in Oklahoma and New Hampshire won state legislative seats vacated by Republicans in districts President Trump won by double digits. In New Hampshire, Democratic small-business owner Charles St. Clair beat Republican Steve Whalley, 55 percent to 45 percent, for a state House seat that Trump won by 19 points last November. Democrats last held the seat in 2012, and Republicans had a 12-point party registration advantage. In Oklahoma, meanwhile, Democratic school teacher Jacob Rosecrants beat Republican Darin Chambers, 60 percent to 40 percent, in state House District 46, a district Trump won by 11 points and where Republicans have nearly 3,000 more registered voters.

Republicans still control the state legislatures in New Hampshire and Oklahoma, but Democrats celebrated the upsets, especially after falling just short in a heavily red Oklahoma district in May.

Democrats narrowly lost hard-fought national House special elections this year in conservative districts in Montana, Georgia, and Kansas, but they have fared much better at the state level. Before Tuesday night's flips, the Democrats picked up a GOP state House and Senate seat in Oklahoma in July, and another House seat in New Hampshire and a New York State Assembly seat in May. Republicans have picked up just one state seat this year, in a Louisiana district that swung so hard to the right that no Democrats ran. Peter Weber

8:36 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson announced Monday that it will move the production of its European Union-bound motorcycles to sites overseas as a direct result of President Trump's escalating trade war, the Financial Times reports. Harley-Davidson said that European Union tariffs, which were imposed in retaliation to Trump's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, would increase the average cost of a motorcycle to the EU from the U.S. by around $2,200, Marketwatch reports.

"Harley-Davidson believes the tremendous cost increase, if passed onto its dealers and retail customers, would have an immediate and lasting detrimental impact to its business in the region, reducing customer access to Harley-Davidson products and negatively impacting the sustainability of its dealers' businesses," the company said, adding that it plans to "shift production of motorcycles for EU destinations from the U.S. to its international facilities to avoid the tariff burden."

The company's decision is a blow to Trump's goal of "America first" economic policies. The manufacturing jobs will reportedly be moved to plants in India, Brazil, and Thailand, Harley-Davidson said. Jeva Lange

8:30 a.m. ET
Lars Niki/Getty Images for IMAX

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom led the box office with $150 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend, The Associated Press reported. 2015's Jurassic World debuted with a record-breaking $209 million, but Fallen Kingdom's better-than-expected haul was enough to show that the 25-year-old dinosaur franchise still has plenty of fans. The film's success also gave Hollywood its first back-to-back $100 million-plus openings in a non-holiday stretch following the $183 million debut of Pixar's Incredibles 2, which added another $81 million in its second week. The total box office take for the weekend reached $280 million, Hollywood's fourth best weekend ever. Harold Maass

8:17 a.m. ET

President Trump was on his way to a Trump golf course in Virginia on Sunday when he tweeted that he wanted all undocumented immigrants deported immediately with no due process, "no judges or court cases," The New York Times reports, in the latest episode of Trump talking a hard line on immigration after reversing his administration's family-separation border policy through an executive order last week. In fact, Trump has been "complaining to aides about why he could not just create an overarching executive order to solve the problem," the Times reports, citing "two people familiar with the deliberations," adding:

Aides have had to explain to the president why a comprehensive immigration overhaul is beyond the reach of his executive powers. And privately, the president has groused that he should not have signed the order undoing separations. [The New York Times]

Deporting immigrants from inside the U.S. without due process, whatever their legal status, would be a "tyrannical" and "breathtaking assertion of unbounded power — power without any plausible limit," Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe tells the Times. "The due process requirements of the Fifth and 14th Amendments apply to all persons, including those in the U.S. unlawfully." But regarding the family separation directive, Trump isn't alone in the White House in opposing the executive order he signed.

"Typically, executive orders are the product of weeks of collaborative work," Politico reports, but Trump's family-separation rollback was "dashed together in a matter of hours," and he signed it over the objections of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House Counsel Don McGahn, and other staff members worried it won't withstand legal challenge and would lead to the predictably chaotic rollout. Peter Weber

8:08 a.m. ET

President Trump responded Monday to the controversy over a Virginia restaurant kicking out his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, by laying down his maxim for dining out: "If a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!"

Trump is famously a germophobe, with his favorite restaurant being McDonald's because "I like cleanliness, and I think you're better off going there than, maybe, someplace that you have no idea where the food's coming from. It's a certain standard." Of course, Trump's decision to bash the Red Hen over its aesthetic shortcomings is particularly ironic when health inspectors have dinged the restaurant at his Mar-a-Lago resort with more than a dozen health code violations.

"Inspectors found 13 violations at the fancy club's kitchen," the Miami Herald learned last spring, including three violations deemed "high priority" because "they could allow the presence of illness-causing bacteria on plates served in the dining room." Jeva Lange

7:37 a.m. ET
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

China and the European Union have teamed up as a means of pushing back against the U.S. trade threat, with Beijing's top economic adviser, Vice Premier Liu He, warning that recent American policies could result in a global recession, Bloomberg and Reuters report. Both regions have been grappling with new U.S. tariffs, with the EU set to impose retaliatory tariffs on $3.3 billion of American goods this week in response to President Trump's restrictions on aluminum and steel imports, and China staring down $34 billion in tariffs to be instated early next month.

"Unilateralism is on the rise and trade tensions have appeared in major economies," Liu said at the press conference alongside European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen. "China and the EU firmly oppose trade unilateralism and protectionism and think these actions may bring recession and turbulence to the global economy."

While representatives of China and the EU are prepared to meet next month to exchange proposals for bilateral investment, Katainen notes that there are still disagreements that need to be sorted out, including the EU's concern about Beijing properly preventing overcapacity in the high-tech and steel and aluminum sectors. Jeva Lange

7:05 a.m. ET

Late Sunday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan involved in the Michael Cohen case abruptly canceled a meeting scheduled for Monday with porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to her lawyer, Michael Avenatti. The meeting was to discuss possible grand jury testimony from Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, regarding the $130,000 Cohen paid her to stay quiet about the extramarital affair she said she had with President Trump in 2006. Avenatti said the prosecutors scrapped the meeting because it had been reported in the press. "I was shocked at that response," Avenatti said.

"We believe canceling the meeting because the press has now caught wind of it is ridiculous," Avenatti told Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos in an email. "We do not think it was any secret that at some point you were going to meet with my client." He added on Twitter that if the prosecutors "can't handle a few cameras outside their offices," how would "they ever bring any serious criminal charges against Cohen et al., let alone handle a trial, in such a high profile matter? ... We remain willing to cooperate but something isn't right." The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has been investigating Cohen's hush payments among other business transactions.

Avenatti and Daniels have turned over documents in response to a federal subpoena, The Associated Press reports, and Avenatti said Daniels has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for months. For what it's worth — and it may not be worth much at all — Tom Arnold says Cohen is also cooperating with federal prosecutors. You can watch MSNBC's Steve Kornacki run down Arnold's bizarre interviews, as well as the current status of the Cohen investigation, below. Peter Weber

5:50 a.m. ET

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) leads his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas), by 5 percentage points, 41 percent to 36 percent, with 17 percent expressing no opinion, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Cruz was leading O'Rourke by 3 points in an April Quinnipiac University poll, though that same poll had Cruz up by 11 points in May.

Cruz is more unpopular than O'Rourke, who represents the West Texas district centered in El Paso, but he also has better name recognition — 41 percent of voters have a favorable view of Cruz and 42 percent view him unfavorably, while 37 percent view O'Rourke favorably and 24 percent have an unfavorable view. This poll "is an early look at the 2018 general election, a survey of registered voters — not of the 'likely voters' whose intentions will become clearer in the weeks immediately preceding the election," The Texas Tribune notes. "If recent history is the guide, most registered voters won't vote in November."

"The numbers also reflect, perhaps, the faint rumble of excitement from Democrats and wariness from Republicans who together are wondering what kind of midterm election President Donald Trump might inspire," the Tribune says. And Trump is only moderately popular in deep-red Texas — 47 percent approve of his job performance while 44 percent disapprove in the new poll. Democrats have never liked Trump, said UT government professor Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll. "And he would have been in a disaster area, except Republicans really ran to him. They like the way that he deals with the Democrats." The UT/TT poll was conducted online among 1,200 registered voters June 8-17, and it has an overall margin of error of ±2.83 percentage points. Peter Weber

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