The Note: Cracks show in GOP's support for Trump

PHOTO: President Donald Trump walks to Marine One prior to departing from the South Lawn of the White House for a trip to Kansas City, Mo., Dec. 7, 2018.PlaySaul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
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It hasn't -- and almost certainly won't -- happen all at once.

But if you're looking for signs that President Donald Trumps support inside his Republican Party is cracking, if only a bit, this week provided fodder that could prove quite memorable.

Yes, most Republicans on Capitol Hill are publicly defending the president, even in the face of growing evidence that he and/or his company aided in committing crimes. But a few -- including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. -- have signaled some concern that there's something significant there.

Others, such as Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. suggest that while they don’t condone the alleged activity, Trump may be unlikely to face prosecution based on previous campaign finance cases.

The president still doesn't have the votes for his border wall, time is slipping away before a partial government shutdown and Democratic congressional leaders are emboldened after their latest sit-down with Trump.

Then came Thursday's rebuke of the Trump administration's support for Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Senate voted 56-41 to withdraw U.S. military assistance for the kingdom's war in Yemen and, later, unanimously condemned the crown prince with a resolution that said he is responsible for the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump told Fox News on Thursday that he hopes he gets a primary challenge from a prominent Republican. Ohio Gov. John Kasich's official response, issued in the name of strategist John Weaver: "Be careful what you wish for."

"Careful" isn't a word often associated with Trump.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Nothing gets members of Congress to work like a deadline and good ol' holiday jet fumes in the air.

It's true this week, too. The Senate is ticking through its to-do list quickly: making formal floor moves on the much-anticipated criminal justice reform bill, passing a sweeping war powers resolution on Yemen and another condemning the Saudi crown prince for the death of a journalist.

The chamber also passed a key piece of legislation reforming how sexual harassment claims are handled on Capitol Hill.

Under the new legislation, lawmakers will be held financially responsible for all harassment and retaliation claims, but not liable for discrimination, as was the case in the bill passed in the House.

Of course, the major line item not taken up yet: funding the remaining government agencies for next year.

PHOTO: In this image made from video, members vote on a temporary funding measure to end the government shutdown on the floor of the U.S. Senate in Washington, Jan. 22, 2018. ABC News
In this image made from video, members vote on a temporary funding measure to end the government shutdown on the floor of the U.S. Senate in Washington, Jan. 22, 2018.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Rep. Nancy Pelosi demonstrated this week why she's considered one of the most effective politicians in American history by successfully navigating the undercurrent of discontent in the Democratic Party and among the newly elected members of her caucus to regain the position of House speaker.

But looking past Pelosi's likely return to the speakership, the question for those who openly opposed her in the 2018 midterms, but say they're satisfied with a deal to limit the number of terms for the current House Democratic leadership, is this: Will voters penalize those candidates the next time their names appear on the ballot?

During the election, in Pelosi's home state of California, Rep.-elect Gil Cisneros was a firm "no" on her returning to speaker, saying he would not vote or support her to lead a Democratic majority in the House. On Thursday, Cisneros praised the "concrete steps" she's taken to ensure new party leadership who will take the reins in the near future.

"Now that there is a clear commitment to cultivating the next great leaders of our Party, I will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House," Cisneros wrote in a statement.

The National Republican Campaign Committee, tasked with re-taking the House in 2020, took notice and labeled Cisneros a "fraud."

There are less than 24 months until the ultimate judgment will be rendered by the voters -- a lifetime in politics, but plenty of time for the GOP to build a case in key battleground districts.

PHOTO: Gil Cisneros, Democrat running for Californias 39th Congressional district seat in Congress, speaks, May 21, 2018. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
Gil Cisneros, Democrat running for California's 39th Congressional district seat in Congress, speaks, May 21, 2018.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. In a special edition posting at 7 a.m. EST, we break down the major moments from George Stephanopoulos' exclusive interview with Michael Cohen.

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. In this episode, FiveThirtyEight takes a break from Washington to make sense of a chaotic week in British politics. Two professors from the University of Cambridge, Helen Thompson and David Runciman, explain why a resolution for Brexit is so complicated and how the country got to where it is today.


  • Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, sits down with George Stephanopoulos in his first interview since he was sentenced. The interview airs at 7 a.m. on Good Morning America.
  • President Donald Trump receives an intelligence briefing at 12 p.m at the White House. He and first lady Melania Trump will attend Christmas receptions at 5:15 and 8 p.m.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivers remarks at a naturalization ceremony that coincides with Bill of Rights Day. The event starts at 10 a.m. at the National Archives in Washington.
  • This Week on "This Week": Intelligence Committee member Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Senate Minority Whip and Judiciary Committee member Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., come to "This Week" Sunday. And the Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, with New York Times Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker, co-author of "Impeachment: An American History," TIME National Political Correspondent Molly Ball, Open Society Foundations president and Obama White House political affairs director Patrick Gaspard, and American Conservative Union chairperson Matt Schlapp.
  • EDITOR'S NOTE: This column has been updated to reflect the full context of comments from Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

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