The Note: Shutdown blame game misses the broader goal

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as they hold a meeting about tax reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington in this Sept. 5, 2017 file photo.PlaySaul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
WATCH Negotiations slow as government shutdown looms

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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“The blame, the fault, will all lie in one place,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said yesterday, on the possibility of a government shutdown.

Sanders was pointing the finger at Democrats, of course. But it’s not outlandish to say that place would instead be the White House where a president whose party controls Congress has contradicted himself enough to leave negotiations around immigration and spending constantly revving up but going nowhere.

Yet, even that piece of the blame game misses the broader point.

There either will or will not be a shutdown. In either event, the week will expire with President Donald Trump’s leadership meandering to the point that even his allies are practically begging him to state clearly what he actually wants.

“As soon as he figures out what he is for,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, “then I will be convinced we're not just spinning our wheels but actually dealing with a bill that can become law.”

The question has become bipartisan: Does the dealmaker-in-chief want to make a deal?

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Whatever Steve Bannon said in front of the House Intelligence Committee, it must have raised questions. In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the group of lawmakers was decisive when they resoundingly agreed to subpoena the former White House top operative immediately following his first interview with committee members and staff.

The former chief strategist invoked "executive privilege" as his reason for not answering a number of questions about his time working for the presidential transition and at the White House. He may be back up before the committee right away to try and resolve questions about his testimony and executive privilege claims.

The back and forth reinforces the fact that at some point the White House will have to decide whether it's cooperating with the investigation or admitting it's not.

While Bannon may be a disgruntled former employee, trying, perhaps, to impress his old boss and play tough with investigators, his decision to make this legal argument and essentially bait a subpoena matched what other members of Trump's close orbit have done too. Cabinet members have recently offered similar reasons for their own refusals to answers lawmakers' questions.

And the White House is closely attuned to Bannon's testimony and appearance.

While executive privilege may have a long history in the county, as Sarah Sanders reiterated from the podium, this administration seems to be asserting it in new ways.

The TIP with MaryAlice Parks

Democrats in the Congressional Black Caucus and on the House Judiciary Committee plan to introduce a resolution today to censure President Donald Trump over his allegedly calling African nations “s---hole countries” during a bipartisan meeting in the Oval Office the last week.

“This censure resolution is important because America is a beacon of hope. We have to show the world that this president does not represent the real feelings of most of the American people,” CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., wrote in a joint statement.

“American immigration policy cannot and should not be guided in any way, shape or form by racism,” the statement said.

If passed by the House, this censure resolution would indicate a rare, official and public condemnation from Congress against the commander-in-chief. Over the summer, three members of Congress introduced a separate censure resolution over comments President Trump made regarding the white supremacy march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • The president starts his day at the Pentagon. According to a U.S. official, Trump will be briefed on the impact a government shutdown — or another short-term spending bill — would have on the military.
  • Vice President Mike Pence will also visit the Pentagon in the afternoon and get similar briefings.
  • Later, the president will head to the Pittsburgh area to give a speech on tax cuts and the economy — putting him near the site of the March special election for the Pennsylvania 18 House seat.
  • After sending the continuing resolution (CR) to the floor Wednesday night, the House is expected to take up a vote today to avoid a government shutdown — but it's still not clear if Republican leaders have enough support to pass it.
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will be speaking about military readiness today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
  • Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Judiciary Committee will introduce a resolution to censure the president for the derogatory remark he reportedly made at the White House last week.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets today with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi at the State Department.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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