The Note: Betrayed at home, empty-handed abroad

Donald Trump returns to the U.S. with more on his plate than when he left.

February 28, 2019, 6:01 AM
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi, Vietnam.
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Evan Vucci/AP

The TAKE with Rick Klein

President Donald Trump is headed home early and empty-handed, having been betrayed by an old friend at home and disappointed by a new one abroad.

In the wake of Wednesday's explosive public hearing, and with a closed-door session before the House Intelligence Committee still ahead of him, it's what Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen may have wanted to say but couldn't that should scare the White House.

And with the surprise, early wrap to the president's second summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, it's what Trump definitely wanted to do but didn't that might ultimately scare the world.

Trump cited the North Koreans' insistence on immediate sanctions relief as his reason to leave without having signed anything.

"Sometimes you have to walk," Trump said at his Thursday news conference, held ahead of schedule so he could depart Vietnam earlier than planned.

Trump's willingness to believe Kim's denial of involvement in the death of Otto Warmbier evoked memories of Helsinki, when he said Russia's President Vladimir Putin was "extremely strong" in his denials about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Meanwhile, Cohen's cooperation with the Southern District of New York -- cooperation made clearer in Wednesday's hearing -- will linger well beyond the week.

A day that could define Trump's presidency showed the limits of his personality-first leadership style. The president returns home with more on his plate than when he left.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Five Democratic senators, actively running for president, are rolling out new legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., authored the bill. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., are co-sponsors.

PHOTO: Sen. Cory Booker speaks at his "Conversation with Cory" campaign event at the Nevada Partners Event Center, Feb. 24, 2019, in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sen. Cory Booker speaks at his "Conversation with Cory" campaign event at the Nevada Partners Event Center, Feb. 24, 2019, in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The sweeping legislation would not only remove the drug from the list of controlled substances -- formally legalizing it at the federal level -- but also expunge the records of those who previously convicted of offenses related to marijuana use and possession.

The authors of the bill point specifically to the disproportionate negative impacts of the dated "War on Drugs" on low-income communities and people of color.

While the bill likely will go over well in progressive circles and, perhaps, among civil libertarians, it could draw tough criticism from Republicans and other Democrats for moving too far too fast.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Nevada may come fourth in the presidential nominating process, but the number of 2020 Democratic hopefuls visiting the Silver State is an indication of the outsize role it's likely to play again this cycle.

PHOTO: Julian Castro, left, and Kamala Harris.
Julian Castro, left, and Kamala Harris.
AP | EPA via Shutterstock

The state was strategically important for Hillary Clinton, whose victory in the 2016 primaries over Sanders cemented her status as the front-runner in the race. Presidential candidates Harris and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will both be in the state on Thursday for events in Las Vegas. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, visited last weekend.

Local Democratic Party officials told ABC News they are looking forward to the influx of candidates and aren't nervous about states like California or Texas encroaching on their "First in the West," status by moving their primary dates up in the calendar.

"We're not concerned about California or Texas moving up because of how unique we are and how competitive our state is," Nevada Democratic Party Executive Director Alana Mounce told ABC News at the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting in Washington. "Because of the diversity, because we are the only battleground state in that window we know that anyone who does well in Nevada is going to do well in the general election."


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Thursday morning's special edition features an analysis of the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi from our team on the ground in Vietnam. Then, ABC News' Kyra Phillips and Chris Vlasto break down the marathon day of testimony from President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.


  • President Donald Trump departed Hanoi, Vietnam early Thursday morning, en route to Washington.
  • Michael Cohen appears privately before the House Intelligence Committee in Washington.
  • The American Conservative Union hosts Day Two of its annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Remarks begin at 8:30 a.m.
  • The House Committee on Energy and Commerce holds a hearing on the Paris Climate Agreement at 10 a.m. in Washington.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., travels to Nevada for her first trip to the state as a presidential candidate.
  • Presidential candidate and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro meets with DREAMer mothers at noon PST in Las Vegas. Later, he joins a roundtable with local nonprofit leaders working on immigrant rights.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden joins former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to launch the "Chuck Hagel Forum in Global Leadership" at 3:30 p.m. CST at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
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