SCOOP: ANDY HEMMING out at WH — TRUMP’s heated calls with senators — THE JUICE: PERRY bringing family and friends on trip abroad — RISA HELLER drops Kushner Cos. as a client — JAY SOLOMON’s new job

Happy Thursday. AN INTERESTING DATAPOINT — TONY FABRIZIO, whom the Trump campaign paid $1.29 million last year, released polling on Twitter yesterday about the president’s standing against other Republicans. 54% of definite GOP primary voters would vote for Trump, 13% would vote for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and 10% would vote for John Kasich. JUST 49% say they’d definitely vote for Trump. 20% of definite GOP voters are undecided. FEWER THAN 60% OF REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTERS want Trump to be the nominee again in 2020, and it’s August 2017. This poll is measuring against a field — it’s not head to head. The poll http://politi.co/2vYRTuH

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: W.H. RAPID RESPONSE DIRECTOR IS OUT — ANDY HEMMING left his job on Monday as the White House director of rapid response, according to multiple sources. A source familiar with the move told us it was a “mutually agreed upon” separation, and Hemming now plans to take a vacation (in which golf may play a big part) and then explore future opportunities. Right before his departure, he was profiled by Annie Karni (http://politi.co/2g79s6m) as the staffer the White House pays “$89,000 a year to spot and distribute positive stories from the mainstream media.”

Story Continued Below

HEMMING WAS SENIOR ADVISER for research at the RNC in the 2016 cycle and director of research on the Trump campaign. At the White House, he worked from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every weekday and was a regular in reporters’ inboxes, blasting out stories favorable to the administration. Hemming declined to comment. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told us that it was a “[m]utual decision that he could best help promote the president’s agenda on the outside. Andy is smart and very talented and we wish him all the best.”

— PARTY IN KAZAKHSTAN AND UKRAINE!: Energy Secretary Rick Perry is leading a presidential delegation to Kazakhstan for Expo 2017 and then heading on to Ukraine next week, and he is bringing his wife, daughter, son-in-law and friends. The Energy Department tells Playbook that Perry’s family and friends will be reimbursing the government for all costs associated with the trip.

— @CREWcrew: “Did Steven Mnuchin & Louise Linton use a gov’t plane to get a better view of the eclipse? We FOIA’d to find out.” http://bit.ly/2vhYUnR

**SUBSCRIBE to Playbook: http://politi.co/2lQswbh

SCOOP FROM CNN’s MANU RAJU and MARSHALL COHEN: “Top Trump aide’s email draws new scrutiny in Russia inquiry”: “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.

“The aide, Rick Dearborn, who is now President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent a brief email to campaign officials last year relaying information about an individual who was seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin, the sources said. The person was only identified in the email as being from ‘WV,’ which one source said was a reference to West Virginia. It’s unclear who the individual is, what he or she was seeking, or whether Dearborn even acted on the request. One source said that the individual was believed to have had political connections in West Virginia, but details about the request and who initiated it remain vague.

“The same source said Dearborn in the email appeared skeptical of the requested meeting. Sources said the email occurred in June 2016 around the time of the recently revealed Trump Tower meeting where Russians with Kremlin ties met with the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner as well as then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.” http://cnn.it/2wAdHyB

BEHIND THE SCENES — “Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia: The conversations are evidence of rising tensions between the president and congressional Republicans heading into a critical legislative span,” by Josh Dawsey and Elana Schor: “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. Trump expressed frustration over a bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia and tried to convince Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that it wasn’t good policy …

“Trump argued that the legislation was unconstitutional and said it would damage his presidency. Corker was unrelenting … and told Trump the bill was going to pass both houses with bipartisan support. … Trump dialed up Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on Aug. 7, two days before a blunt call with the Senate majority leader that spilled over into a public feud. Tillis is working with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on a bill designed to protect Robert Mueller, the independent counsel investigating the president’s Russia connections, from any attempt by Trump to fire him.” http://politi.co/2v8Suvj

THE PRESIDENT V. MITCH MCCONNELL — “Trump met with potential Flake challengers before Phoenix rally,” by Alex Isenstadt in Phoenix: “President Donald Trump continues to amp up the pressure on Sen. Jeff Flake, savaging the Arizona Republican on Twitter and holding a private meeting with several of his prospective primary opponents. Before taking the stage in Phoenix on Tuesday evening for a campaign-style rally, the president huddled backstage with state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham. Both are considering running against Flake, an outspoken critic of the president who recently published an anti-Trump book, ‘Conscience of a Conservative.’ Trump ripped the Arizona senator during the brief meeting, calling him ‘the flake,’ according to three people who provided an account of the discussion. Trump also discussed the potential for a primary challenge to Flake and told DeWit and Graham, both of whom have aligned with the president, to get back to him about their interest in running.” http://politi.co/2wHq0rU

NOTHING TO SEE HERE … STATEMENT FROM MCCONNELL: “The President and I, and our teams, have been and continue to be in regular contact about our shared goals. We are working together to develop tax reform and infrastructure legislation so we can grow the economy and create jobs; to prevent a government default; to fund the government so we can advance our priorities in the short and long terms; to pass the defense authorization and defense appropriations bills so we can support our troops and help implement an effective strategy against ISIL; to provide relief from Obamacare; and to continue our progress for our nation’s veterans.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are committed to advancing our shared agenda together and anyone who suggests otherwise is clearly not part of the conversation.”

— WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT — WE’LL MEET, BUT THAT WAS SCHEDULED BEFORE WE WERE BEEFING!: “President Donald J. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell remain united on many shared priorities, including middle class tax relief, strengthening the military, constructing a southern border wall, and other important issues. They will hold previously scheduled meetings following the August recess to discuss these critical items with members of the congressional leadership and the President’s Cabinet. White House and leadership staff are coordinating regarding the details of those meetings.”

****** A message from Chevron: When an endangered butterfly was found near a Chevron refinery, we protected the habitat and still plant the only thing they eat—buckwheat. Watch the video: http://politi.co/2ie5v0A ******

DEPT. OF CONTINUITY — “Trump’s whiplash: Three personas in three speeches, but the same president,” by WaPo’s Phil Rucker: “In the span of 48 hours this week, President Trump has boomeranged among three roles: the commander in chief, the divider and the uniter. 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.” http://wapo.st/2wHldXz

— NYT: “Different Day, Different Audience, and a Completely Different Trump,” by Mark Landler: “It was a day-and-night contrast to Mr. Trump’s performance Tuesday night in Phoenix, where he lurched from subject to subject and accused the news media of ignoring what he insisted had been his message of unity in the aftermath of Charlottesville. But such contrasts have become a recurring motif of his presidency: Mr. Trump has toggled between Teleprompter Trump and Unplugged Trump every day since the deadly clashes in Virginia, leaving Washington and the rest of the nation with a chronic case of rhetorical whiplash.” http://nyti.ms/2iuNsDw

COMING ATTRACTIONS — “White House has paperwork ready for Joe Arpaio pardon,” by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins: “The White House has prepared the paperwork for President Trump to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio when he makes the final decision to do so, CNN has learned. An administration official said the White House has also prepared talking points to send to surrogates after he is pardoned. One of the talking points is that Arpaio served his country for 50 years in the military, the Drug Enforcement Administration and as Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff, and that it is not appropriate to send him to prison for ‘enforcing the law’ and ‘working to keep people safe.’” http://cnn.it/2it0Fg4

— THE WHITE HOUSE would be wise to do this when Congress is out of session.

ANOTHER ANNIE KARNI SCOOP — “New York PR maven Risa Heller drops Kushner Cos.”: “Crisis management consultant Risa Heller has dropped Kushner Cos., the family real estate company of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a client, according to two sources familiar with the arrangement. Heller dropped the client earlier this week after representing the company for just over a year and a half. That’s longer than many of her predecessors working in media relations with Charlie Kushner, Jared’s father and the family patriarch, have lasted in a job representing a famously acerbic boss and convicted felon. A new spokesman for Kushner Companies, however, disputed that account and said the company decided to replace Heller this week. Heller declined to comment.” http://politi.co/2wArGnN

— VIDEO OF KUSHNER AND BIBI http://bit.ly/2viu2mW

FOR YOUR RADAR — “White House Sets Rules for Military Transgender Ban,” by WSJ’s Gordon Lubold: “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.” http://on.wsj.com/2xtR2jx

MORE RESIGNATIONS — “Infrastructure Advisers Quit, Say Trump’s Actions Threaten Homeland Security,” by HuffPost’s Dana Liebelson: “Another White House council has taken a hit after President Donald Trump’s controversial response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Seven members of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which includes Obama appointees, resigned this week, citing Trump’s Charlottesville response and other issues. ‘Your actions have threatened the security of the homeland I took an oath to protect,’ the resigning members wrote in a letter sent Monday and obtained by HuffPost. They referenced the Aug. 15 press conference about infrastructure reform in which Trump suggested the ‘alt-left’ was also guilty of instigating violence in Charlottesville. ‘You failed to denounce the intolerance and violence of hate groups,’ the letter read.” http://bit.ly/2xeYsb5

TRUMP’S THURSDAY — He is meeting with H.R. McMaster and then OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and the Office of Legislative Affairs.

THE JUICE …

— ELIZABETH DREW (@ElizabethDrewOH): “Due to a decision I didn’t make, I’ll not be covering Washington politics for New York Review. You’ll find my work elsewhere. Details tk.”

— THE RNC’S RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE passed a resolution Wednesday at its summer meeting in Nashville condemning KKK/white supremacists. The full RNC will vote on it Friday, RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney told us.

— CARSON WATCH, PER OUR COLLEAGUE LORRAINE WOELLERT: After HUD Secretary Ben Carson made a cameo at Trump’s rally in Phoenix, Chris Lu, a former deputy secretary of labor in the Obama administration, joined others filing complaints with the Office of Special Counsel. An announcer at the political confab introduced Carson as HUD secretary, a no-no that might violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits public servants from politicking on the job, Lu wrote. (You might remember that Carson’s predecessor, Julian Castro, got into Hatch Act hot water when he endorsed Hillary Clinton while still at HUD.)

A HUD spokesman said Carson attended the Trump event in his personal capacity. The agency didn’t pay for his travel and lodging and he didn’t mention HUD business. “We don’t believe there was a Hatch Act violation,” HUD said in a written statement. “We are unaware of what instructions, if any, were provided to the announcer.” HUD says it is checking with its ethics office to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

REMINDER — PLAYBOOK ON THE ROAD is nearly coming to an end. Send us a photo of yourself or others reading Playbook during your travels this month and we will feature five photos every Friday. Participating Playbookers will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a signed cartoon by POLITICO’s Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Matt Wuerker. Email photos to Daniel at daniel@politico.com. Or, tweet them to @playbookplus with the hashtag #PlaybookLoyal.

THE OPPOSITION — “Castro twins’ political ambitions collide,” by Isaac Dovere: “Texas Democrats desperately want Rep. Joaquín Castro to run for governor next year — and they’re frustrated by what they see as his twin brother’s presidential ambitions getting in the way. The congressman’s decision as to whether to run against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is caught up in the Castro brothers’ unique mix of their deep personal connection and parallel political ambitions. Joaquín Castro is being hounded by Democrats to get in but is torn, according to people who’ve spoken with him, over whether to take on a popular incumbent with $40 million in the bank.

“That’s where his identical twin brother, Julián Castro, comes in. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary and 2012 Democratic convention speaker recently launched a PAC and is spending the fall writing an autobiographical, campaign-style book, and has made his interest in 2020 clear. The brothers serve as each other’s top strategists, and they’ve agreed that Julián’s next political move takes primacy for now. One worry is that a Joaquín loss for governor — it would be an uphill battle, at best, against Abbott — would make the Castros look like losers. The other is that if Joaquin happened to pull off an upset, it would distract attention from Julián, potentially complicating his path to the White House.” http://politi.co/2wAS9S6

THE NEW SHERIFF — “Kelly moves to control the information Trump sees,” by Eliana Johnson and Nancy Cook: “Confronted with a West Wing that treated policymaking as a free-for-all, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly is instituting a system used by previous administrations to limit internal competition —and to make himself the last word on the material that crosses the president’s desk. … In a conference call last week, Kelly initiated a new policymaking process in which just he and one other aide — White House staff secretary Rob Porter, a little-known but highly regarded Rhodes Scholar who overlapped with Jared Kushner as an undergraduate at Harvard — will review all documents that cross the Resolute Desk.

“The new system, laid out in two memos co-authored by Kelly and Porter and distributed to cabinet members and White House staffers in recent days, is designed to ensure that the president won’t see any external policy documents, internal policy memos, agency reports, and even news articles that haven’t been vetted. Kelly’s deputy, Kristjen Nielson, is also expected to assume an integral role.” http://politi.co/2wHMwkw

NYT, A1 ALEX BURNS — “Rabbis Protest Trump’s Comments by Boycotting Conference Call”: “For years, the presidential conference calls were a nonpartisan holiday tradition: President Barack Obama would speak by phone with hundreds of rabbis in advance of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, in what participants described as a meeting of minds, largely free of raw politics.

“But that emerging tradition was thrown into jeopardy on Wednesday, in a sign of the still-intensifying backlash against President Trump’s response to the violence this month in Charlottesville, Va. Four coalitions of rabbis, hailing from different strains of American Judaism, publicly spurned Mr. Trump, denouncing him in unusually pointed language, and pre-emptively announcing that they would not participate in any conference call before the Jewish holidays next month.” http://nyti.ms/2wqtCi8

****** A message from Chevron: This is a story about DOERS, butterflies, and buckwheat. In ’75, the endangered El Segundo Blue butterfly was found near a Chevron refinery. We protected the habitat and planted the only thing they eat—buckwheat. We’re still planting and keeping an eye on our littlest neighbor. Watch the video: http://politi.co/2ie5v0A ******

FUTURECAST — “Inside Waymo’s Secret World for Training Self-Driving Cars: An exclusive look at how Alphabet understands its most ambitious artificial intelligence project,” by Alexis C. Madrigal in The Atlantic: “In a corner of Alphabet’s campus, there is a team working on a piece of software that may be the key to self-driving cars. No journalist has ever seen it in action until now. They call it Carcraft, after the popular game World of Warcraft. … This is the tool that’s accelerated the development of autonomous vehicles at Waymo, which Alphabet (née Google) spun out of its ‘moon-shot’ research wing, X, in December of 2016. If Waymo can deliver fully autonomous vehicles in the next few years, Carcraft should be remembered as a virtual world that had an outsized role in reshaping the actual world on which it is based.” http://theatln.tc/2xuZOOe

MEGATRENDS — “Alaska’s Permafrost is Thawing: The loss of frozen ground in Arctic regions is a striking result of climate change. And it is also a cause of more warming to come,” by NYT’s Henry Fountain: “Starting just a few feet below the surface and extending tens or even hundreds of feet down, [the permafrost] contains vast amounts of carbon in organic matter — plants that took carbon dioxide from the atmosphere centuries ago, died and froze before they could decompose. Worldwide, permafrost is thought to contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere. Once this ancient organic material thaws, microbes convert some of it to carbon dioxide and methane, which can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming. Scientists have estimated that the process of permafrost thawing could contribute as much as 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit to global warming over the next several centuries, independent of what society does to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other activities.” http://nyti.ms/2xuydgo

MEDIAWATCH — “Top Think Tank Hires Ex-WSJ Reporter Jay Solomon for North Korea Project,” by Jerusalem Post’s Michael Wilner: “Solomon will serve for three months as a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, focusing on Pyongyang’s sale of missile systems from Yemen and Egypt to Syria and Iran. … Solomon was let go from the Journal in June after his correspondence with an Iranian source was leaked to the Associated Press, revealing exchanges that raised questions over the nature of their relationship. The source– Farhad Azima, an Iranian aviation mogul who was already under investigation by the wire service– offered Solomon a stake in a new venture by e-mail.” http://bit.ly/2vrjem1

–“Wall Street Journal Editor Admonishes Reporters Over Trump Coverage,” by NYT’s Michael M. Grynbaum: “Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, has faced unease and frustration in his newsroom over his stewardship of the newspaper’s coverage of President Trump, which some journalists there say has lacked toughness and verve. Some staff members expressed similar concerns on Wednesday after Mr. Baker, in a series of blunt late-night emails, criticized his staff over their coverage of Mr. Trump’s Tuesday rally in Phoenix, describing their reporting as overly opinionated. ‘Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting,’ Mr. Baker wrote at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning to a group of Journal reporters and editors, in response to a draft of the rally article that was intended for the newspaper’s final edition. He added in a follow-up, ‘Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?’” http://nyti.ms/2xuIUzs

SPOTTED: Ory Rinat, the White House’s chief digital officer, last night at Kapnos on 14th Street … @RepAnnWagner: “Visited the DMZ between North & South Korea. Yes, that is a North Korean soldier staring at us through the window.” Pic http://bit.ly/2vqJkWg

TRANSITIONS — Brittany Uter is joining Facebook next month to work on strategic communications for its news partnerships team in New York. She was most recently senior communications manager at Vox Media.

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Todd Harris, partner at Something Else Strategies. A fun fact about him: “I was in a band in high school. We were called ‘The Wake.’ I sang lead vocals, played keyboards and programmed the drum machine (give me a break, it was the ‘80’s). We wanted to be like The Smiths meet Depeche Mode, but probably sounded more like a cross between a dying cat and a malfunctioning computer.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2xeYfoF

BIRTHDAYS: Nick Denton is 51 … David Gregory, CNN political analyst, is 46 … former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) is 75 (hat tip: John Marshall) … Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is 65 … Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) is 7-0. He’s spending time with his family, fishing and celebrating his recent 50th wedding anniversary to Gayle (h/ts Steve Clemons and Jonathan Kott) … Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) is 7-0 … Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) is 45 … Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) is 61 … Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) is 56 … Major Garrett is 55 … Mike Huckabee is 62. He’s celebrating by watching daughter Sarah’s three kids who are all at his house in Florida (h/t Sarah) … Galia Slayen, comms director for Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, turns “twentysomething” (h/t Sadie Weiner) … Ricki Seidman, comms specialist and senior principal at TSD, Obama, DOJ and Clinton alum (h/t Jon Haber and Tim Burger) … Catherine Lowe … James Meek (h/ts Burger) … David Molina (h/t Mallory Howe) … Sahar Wali, national comms director for SEIU … Jane Brown of UnitedHealth Group …

… Natalie Strom, assistant WH press secretary (h/ts Sarah Sanders, Alex Stroman, Fred Brown and Marlon Bateman) … Betsy Wright Hawkings, program director for the Governance Initiative at the Democracy Fund (hubby tip: David) … Politico’s Brendan Cheney … George Haydock … Seyward Darby … Mary Hood … Bonnie Reiss … Geo Saba, military LA to Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) who was profiled in the San Jose Mercury News (http://bayareane.ws/2vfo7iD), is 25 (h/t Heather Purcell) … Pam Coulter … “Inside City Hall” host Errol Louis … Brad Bainum, press secretary for American Bridge (h/t Kevin McAllister) … Abbie McDonough … Politico Europe’s Nadia Chabane … Aaron Houston … JB Britten … Erik Brydges … USC student Morgan Buckley … Justin Roth … Meagan Shephard … Zach Zampella … Carissa Gillespie … James Manasco … Dabnesy Hegg … Merrit (Martin) Gillard … Randan Swindler … Harry Rhoads Jr. … Lisa Reed … Courtney Robinson … Danny Finnegan is 55 … Trey Barnes … Joann Orner … Emily Cherniack, founder and executive director of New Politics (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

****** A message from Chevron: This is a story about DOERS, butterflies, and buckwheat. In ’75, the endangered El Segundo Blue butterfly was found near a Chevron refinery. We protected the habitat and planted the only thing they eat—buckwheat. We’re still planting and keeping an eye on our littlest neighbor. Watch the video: http://politi.co/2ie5v0A ******

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