By (Daniel Lippman)

IT’S BEEN 17 YEARS since Sept. 11.

— L.A. TIMES’ NABIH BULOS: “Seventeen years after Sept. 11, Al Qaeda may be stronger than ever”

SCOOP: NATASHA KORECKI and DAVID SIDERS: “Hurricane Florence undercuts Miami Beach convention bid”: “Hurricane Florence isn’t great for Houston. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Miami Beach. The two cities are finalists to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. While both face the threat of flooding and downpours as the storm gains steam this week, it’s Miami Beach that has the most to lose.

“Five Democrats with knowledge of the selection process tell POLITICO that at least some site committee members consider the race to be between Houston and Milwaukee. And that was before this week’s threatening weather.” POLITICO

— RALEIGH NEWS AND OBSERVER: “‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Florence hits Category 4 as it churns toward Carolinas”: “Hurricane Florence is now a Category 4 storm and is ‘rapidly strengthening’ as it heads toward the Carolinas coast, bringing ‘exceptionally heavy rain,’ the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Monday. In a 11 p.m. update from the NHC, the storm’s winds rose to 140 mph, and it picked up speed in its westward track, doubling its speed from Sunday to 13 mph. …

“‘Storm-force winds’ are expected to hit North Carolina beginning 8 a.m. Thursday, and some eastern counties could see as much as 12 inches of rain in the four days that follow, the National Weather Service said in its Monday morning update.” N&O

BREAKING — “EXCLUSIVE: U.S. officials say Russia main suspect in mystery ‘attacks’ on diplomats in Cuba,” by NBC’s Josh Lederman, Courtney Kube, Abigail Williams and Ken Dilanian with Julia Ainsley: “The strong suspicion that Russia was behind the alleged attacks is backed by signals intelligence, meaning intercepted communications, say U.S. officials.” NBC

NEW AD … BRYAN STEIL, the Republican running for Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat, has a new 30-second ad up called “Solutions.” They’re spending $159,000 on TV and $20,000 online. The spot

— RYAN was in Dallas with veteran GOP Rep. Pete Sessions yesterday. NBC Dallas

Good Tuesday morning. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP and FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP will travel this morning to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where they will attend a Sept. 11 memorial service. He’ll meet in the afternoon with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and then DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

ANNIE KARNI, “Trump’s assault on Woodward riddled with contradictions: “The president has slammed Woodward’s book as ‘fiction’ — even as he rails against former aides for leaking”: “President Donald Trump has called journalist Bob Woodward’s book on his administration a work of ‘fiction’ and a ‘scam,’ claiming that quotes in the book are “made up” and that the author is a ‘liar.’

“At the same time, sources familiar with his thinking said he is livid at his former economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and his former staff secretary, Rob Porter, for ‘leaking’ to Woodward. It’s difficult to rationally argue that the book could be both: fiction dreamed up by Woodward, and a betrayal by former top stewards of the administration, who shared with the famed journalist alarming details about how the White House functions.

“But it’s not hard for Trump, who often spouts two opposing views intended for different audiences. And his supporters often soak up the contradictory claims just as readily as he spits them out, taking it all in stride. Call it a belt-and-suspenders approach. When it comes to the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign, for instance, Trump has simultaneously claimed that ‘there was no collusion’ with the Russians, but, also, that ‘collusion is not a crime.’” POLITICO

— CNN’S KAITLAN COLLINS: “White House again changes phone policy amid heightened paranoia”: “After Omarosa Manigault Newman revealed last month that she secretly taped White House chief of staff John Kelly as he fired her in the Situation Room, a change was made to the West Wing’s phone policy. Going forward, staffers would not be allowed to leave their phones — even the government-issued ones — in lockers in the small entry area outside the Situation Room, as they had done for the previous 19 months of the administration.

“Instead, staffers were directed to go back and put their White House-issued devices in their offices or alongside their personal phones in lockers stationed near the West Wing entrances before being buzzed into the Situation Room. This change was made quietly, but two senior administration officials told CNN they believed it was in direct response to the news that Manigault Newman had taped Kelly.” CNN

LORRAINE WOELLERT and MARIANNE LEVINE: JAY TIMMONS PROFILE — “Fighting against Trump’s trade war from within”: “As a candidate, Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, rattling manufacturers who preach free trade. Shortly after the election, Trump announced a 35 percent tax on companies that moved jobs overseas. And now, Trump shows little sign of backing off an escalating trade war, using the blunt instrument of tariffs to bludgeon China and other countries while U.S. manufacturers seek cover from foreign retaliation.

“But as other executives and trade associations take a public stand against the president, the National Association of Manufacturers and its president, Jay Timmons, have struck a close — if still uneasy — partnership with Trump, betting it’s wiser to be on the inside than out as the administration wages a risky fight with the global business community.

“‘You can scream and yell all you want. I’ve never particularly found that to be effective,’ Timmons said in an interview, when asked about corporate pushback on Trump’s tariffs. ‘We have somebody who is in office who has had a very specific view of the world when it comes to trade—for four decades—so he’s going to do what he’s going to do.’

“Timmons has emerged as an unlikely Washington power center under the Trump administration, enjoying easy West Wing access and a bond with a president whose tactics have unnerved …read more

Read more here: POLITICO Playbook: Hurricane Florence barreling toward East Coast, as congressional leaders consider their options

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