The Note: 'Acting' Trump Cabinet to play defense for volatile boss

Trump now needs several untested individuals to be effective defenders.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's a stranger-than-usual week to be part of the Trump Cabinet.

Starting Tuesday, members of his cabinet and other top administration officials will fan out across Capitol Hill for an intense series of hearings on budget requests and all other matters lawmakers may ask about.

Attorney General William Barr will be pressed on the "Obamacare" lawsuit and the Mueller report. The IRS commissioner will be getting tough questions about the request for the president's tax returns. And a range of officials will be pressed about the situation on the southern border.

Thanks to Trump's recent pushes, there is new leadership in place -- or not in place -- at the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service. That means an "acting" secretary at DHS in addition to the Defense and Interior departments, the Office of Management and Budget, the United Nations and the Small Business Administration and, lest we forget, an acting White House chief of staff.

Trump thrives off of chaos around him. But a man who demands loyalty from his team now needs several untested individuals to be effective defenders when it's harder to discern what's driving the president himself.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

What happens to the NAFTA re-do now?

It's been five months since representatives from the three trading partners finished negotiations on the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The president has called the updated deal a win, but the new treaty has not been ratified by Congress. Now, there's growing buzz about how difficult that might be to get done this year as both the 2020 race and the president's rhetoric heat up.

What's more, Canada has federal elections coming up in October too and its legislature might feel uncomfortable taking up the deal so close to Canadian voters heading to the polls, especially if American lawmakers voice skepticism.

The longer it goes, the more stakeholders will get anxious and the political ramifications could spiral.

The TIP with John Verhovek

When the Democratic National Committee announced its new standards to qualify for their high-profile primary debates, it clearly meant to keep non-serious candidates off the stage.

Former Sen. Mike Gravel, who ran a contrarian presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2008, announced Monday that he is mounting a new bid in 2020. It's a bid he himself says will ultimately fail, but his sole task is to make the first two debates in order to push his anti-intervention brand of foreign policy.

The octogenarian's campaign has gained a surprisingly fervent Twitter army -- now close to 50,000 total followers -- and if he makes the debate stage, the Democratic Party will have to grapple with the harsh criticism he is likely to lob on a national stage.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior National correspondent Terry Moran, who explains what the latest round of staff shakeups in the Trump administration tells us about the president's mindset. ABC News' Mike Levine tells us what to expect when Attorney General William Barr testifies on Capitol Hill Tuesday. We head to Jerusalem to get a preview of Tuesday's Israeli elections from ABC News' Jordana Miller. And, ABC News' Conor Finnegan explains why the U.S. designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is such a big deal.

FiveThirtyEight's Politics podcast. The appeal of outsiders is nothing new in American politics, and in this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the team debates whether an outsider is what Democrats want in 2020.


  • President Donald Trump greets Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, at 12:05 p.m. and then participates in a bilateral meeting and expanded working lunch with him.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who announced a presidential exploratory committee Monday, appears on ABC's "Good Morning America."
  • The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce will hold a hearing on the Department of Justice's fiscal year 2020 budget at 9:30 a.m. Attorney General William Barr will testify.
  • The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will hold a hearing on the president's fiscal year 2020 budget at 10 a.m. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will testify.
  • The House Committee on Financial Services will hold a hearing on the state of the international financial system at 2 p.m. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig will testify.
  • Presidential candidate and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam wraps up his second day of events in South Carolina.
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., will appear on a CNN town hall at 10 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the sharpest political analysis every week day.

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