The Note: Democrats marginalizing and ignoring Trump as 2020 heats up

House Democrats and 2020 contenders feel less of a need to respond to Trump.

January 18, 2019, 6:12 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Don't think he's out of insults just because he's postponing flights.

The tit-for-tat over a rescheduled speech and the spiking of congressional trips marks the most substantive developments of the week, as the government shutdown approaches a record-smashing month.

Now President Donald Trump finds himself a diminished presence -- marginalized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her united caucus, and virtually ignored, so far, by the 2020 contenders whose ranks are growing.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is the latest candidate to get in the race with a stance that ignoring the president is the best way to handle him. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., didn't respond to last weekend's Trump Twitter-taunt.

Meanwhile, Pelosi's suggestion to move the State of the Union was a power play based on real power. The president does control military planes -- and Davos is off for members of his own administration now, too -- but there's also a whole lot a House speaker can do when she has her party behind her.

The president has been oddly silent this week, amid a shutdown in his own government and an utter breakdown in comity and effective communications between the executive and legislative branches.

Trump's Washington is not working. But it also has new power sources that are showing they don't have to take the president's bait.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

This week started with the White House getting pressed for answers about two eye-popping stories about whether the president had personally asked for an interpreter's notes after his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the administration's knowledge about a reported FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was an agent working on behalf of Russia against American interests.

Midweek, Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, made an explosive statement to CNN: "I never said there was no collusion." In that one sentence, Giuliani undercut two years of comments from the Trump White House that there was no collusion at all.

PHOTO: Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor and current lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks to members of the media at the White House, May 30, 2018 in Washington.
Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor and current lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks to members of the media at the White House, May 30, 2018 in Washington.
Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE

Friday morning, the Democratic National Committee alleged it was victim of a hacking attempt as late as this past November. They said experts believed the malicious cyber material looks similar to what they've seen from Russian government-linked groups.

The news was -- rightly -- dominated this week by the shutdown, the hundreds of thousands of Americans hurting from it and the tit-for-tat arguments in Washington, but the rest of the world and suspicions kept turning too.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Following Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's narrow victory in the Arizona in 2018, the state presents one of the Democrats' most tantalizing pickup opportunities in the U.S. Senate in 2020, when incumbent Sen. Martha McSally will have to defend the seat, following her appointment to replace the late Sen. John McCain.

Already, a host of high-profile people are expressing interest, and top party officials are not waving them off.

An aide for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told ABC News that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto, who will chair the group this cycle, have met with three top contenders to unseat McSally: Phoenix-area Rep. Ruben Gallego, former Arizona Attorney General and longtime McCain confidant Grant Woods and retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who is married to former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Any of the three would be formidable opponents against McSally, who even if she does hold on to the seat in 2020, has the unenviable task of running again in 2022 to win a full six-year term.

PHOTO: Rep. Martha McSally waits to speak during a news conference, Dec. 18, 2018, at the Capitol in Phoenix.
Rep. Martha McSally waits to speak during a news conference, Dec. 18, 2018, at the Capitol in Phoenix, where Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced his decision to replace Sen. Jon Kyl with McSally in the U.S. Senate seat that belonged to Sen. John McCain.
Matt York/AP


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, who tells us about the ongoing back and forth playing out in letter form between President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as the government shutdown drags on. Separately, the Women's March organization has come under fire in recent weeks for its association with Louis Farrakhan and we speak to two of its leaders.


  • The March for Life, an annual gathering of pro-life advocates, will march through Washington. The first event starts at 10 a.m.
  • Days after launching her exploratory committee, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is heading to Iowa for the weekend. Her first event begins about noon.
  • The president will meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at 12:45 p.m.
  • The AFL-CIO begins its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference in Washington, with former Florida gubernatorial nominee and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum as the keynote speaker. The first town hall starts at 3 p.m.
  • Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., will campaign this weekend in New Hampshire, kicking things off at a meeting with the New Hampshire Young Democrats at 6 p.m.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., will participate in an organizing event in New Hampshire at 6:30 p.m.
  • ABC News and FiveThirtyEight are tracking the 2020 presidential field. Here's what the varied cast of Oval Office hopefuls has been up to this week:
  • The Note has a new look! Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

    Related Topics

    ABC News Live

    ABC News Live

    24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events