The Note: Trump can only distract for so long from dysfunction and inaction

PHOTO: President Donald Trump, right, meets with Navajo Code Talkers Peter MacDonald, center, and Thomas Begay, left, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Nov. 27, 2017.PlaySusan Walsh/AP
WATCH Roy Moore holds rally as Trump decides not to campaign for him

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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There's an agency with two directors and no clear direction. There's an old tape that's real but news so "fake" that the president wants to award a trophy.

And the "Veep"iest plotline of the day didn't write itself until President Donald Trump brought a Pocahontas joke to an event honoring Native American war heroes.

There is also a tax bill – two of them, actually, racing against a legislative clock that's ticking down on an overloaded agenda. Trump heads to Capitol Hill today to meet with lawmakers about the path ahead, so it's time for some presidential deal-making…

Or is it? It's not clear that Trump even matters in the tax-bill equation, or that his allies want him involved in detailed negotiations around this or the government-spending measure Congress must finish by the end of next week.

There are deals to be cut, but they are the province of the Senate at this point. Key lawmakers have already pronounced themselves immune from Trump's charms. The president hasn't proven himself adept at making legislative deals that last.

Washington's dysfunction may still yield progress in the coming weeks. But action is likely to take place around the president – and around the drama his actions are stoking.

The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek

We're exactly two weeks from Election Day in Alabama, and there's a new U.S. Senate candidate vying to take advantage of the political chaos in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore.

Retired Marine Col. Lee Busby, a former top aide to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, is throwing his hat into the ring as a write-in candidate, he told ABC News in an interview Monday.

"With me throwing my name in, this is now a three-way gun fight, and all I need to do is get a plurality," Busby said, "There is this huge swath between the margins that is very open to a candidacy like this one."

Busby's entrance into the race comes on the same day the White House confirmed President Donald Trump will not campaign with Moore before Election Day, maintaining a layer of separation while still trying to direct most of the political heat toward the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones.

While he faces long odds to winning the seat, Busby says if he can draw those undecided voters who have abandoned Moore but aren't quite ready to support a Democrat, he has a shot at pulling off a win, as long as people remember how to spell his name.

The TIP with Jeffrey Cook

Staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau attended work Monday uncertain about which interim director would be in charge. Emails obtained by ABC News further exacerbated confusion over the agency's leadership.

In a note to CFPB employees Monday morning, former Director Richard Cordray's pick to lead the agency, Leandra English, thanked colleagues and signed under the title acting director.

Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump's preferred appointment, followed up with his own email, directing employees to, "Please disregard any instructions you receive from Ms. English in her presumed capacity as acting director," further instructing staff to "please inform the General Counsel" if they receive additional communications from English.

The White House is defending Mulvaney's position as interim director under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, as English explores legal options after filing a suit against Trump and Mulvaney, citing the Dodd-Frank Act.


  • President Trump has two important meetings today. He heads to Capitol Hill to speak with Republican senators before the vote on the tax plan. He later hosts Senate and House leadership at the White House as the government faces a looming threat of a federal shutdown in December.
  • Jerome Powell, President Trump's nominee for chairman of the Federal Reserve, faces questioning today on Capitol Hill in a Senate Banking Committee Hearing.
  • The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a field hearing at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore requested by ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., to examine the opioid epidemic and the recommendations of President Trump's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
  • The Senate Budget Committee will hold a markup hearing on budget reconciliation.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will give remarks to the Wilson Center on "The U.S. and Europe: Strengthening Western Alliances."

    "We have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time ... longer than you -- they call her Pocahontas!" -- President Donald Trump, referring to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at an Oval Office event honoring Native American World War II veterans who served as Navajo code talkers.


  • Defiant Mulvaney pledges to run CFPB 'differently' amid leadership fight. Office of Management and Budget director-turned acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Mick Mulvaney detailed the plans he has for the agency Monday, in the midst of an ongoing battle over whether President Donald Trump had the right to make his appointment. (Avery Miller)
  • Roy Moore: Sexual misconduct allegations against me are 'completely false,' 'malicious.' An impassioned Roy Moore made his return to the campaign trail in Alabama Monday evening with just over two weeks to go before Election Day, insisting sexual misconduct allegations he faces are "completely false." (John Verhovek)
  • Senate Republicans are racing to approve tax bill but unclear whether they have the votes. Senate Republicans are racing to approve their tax overhaul, with a possible floor vote as early as Thursday. But it's unclear whether they have enough support. Several pockets of Senate Republicans continue to raise different sets of objections to key aspects of the bill, setting up a potential seesaw process in which concessions to some senators arouse opposition from others. (Ali Rogin)
  • Congress faces busy December with taxes, government funding. Congress returns to Washington after the Thanksgiving holiday facing a crushing to-do list of must-pass legislation and GOP agenda items, along with the looming threat of a government shutdown in December. (Benjamin Siegel)
  • Trump makes 'Pocahontas' quip at Navajo code talker event, White House denies it is a 'slur.' During an Oval Office event honoring Native American code talkers for their service during World War II Monday, President Donald Trump made a quip about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, terming her "Pocahontas" in an aside that received swift backlash shortly afterward. (Kevin Pliszak and Adam Kelsey)
  • Michael Flynn's lawyer meets with members of special counsel's team, raising specter of plea deal. The lawyer for President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn met Monday morning with members of special counsel Robert Mueller's team — the latest indication that both sides are discussing a possible plea deal, ABC News has learned. (Matthew Mosk, Mike Levine, and Brian Ross)
  • Thousands more US military service members in Iraq and Syria than believed. Thousands more U.S. troops are serving in Iraq and Syria than has been previously acknowledged by the Pentagon, a new report finds. According to the Defense Manpower Data Center's quarterly report from September, there were 1,720 American troops in Syria -- three times as many as the 503 troops in Syria that U.S. military spokesmen have told reporters. (Luis Martinez)
  • The Washington Post received a dramatic, false tip from a woman claiming to be a victim of Roy Moore. After investigating her claims, The Post determined she was working with Project Veritas to discredit media organizations the group perceives as biased.
  • The Detroit News reports that a second former staffer is accusing Rep. John Conyers of sexual harassment, saying he made unwanted sexual advances toward her three times, including inappropriate touching.
  • The Washington Examiner: Nancy Pelosi: 'I believe' the woman who accused John Conyers of sexual misconduct.
  • 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.