The Note: Flynn on thin ice

February 13, 2017, 9:21 AM

— -- Trump’s First 100 Days with ABC’s RICK KLEIN and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE

Day No. 25

THE BIG STORY: The national-security portfolio is overstuffed these days, with North Korea and Iran testing out the new president, two more visits from wary allies this week, and the raid in Yemen still demanding explanations. Enter into that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who stands accused of potentially violating the law about a discussion he had with the Russian ambassador to the US, misleading the vice president about that conversation, and changing his public stance on whether it might have happened or not. Toss that into the cutthroat battle for influence in the Trump White House and one of President Trump’s highest-profile and closest advisers has a countdown clock ticking over him. Or, make that two such people, with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus also in a fight to keep his job. Newsmax CEO (and Trump friend) Chris Ruddy went on TV over the weekend to opine, “I think there's a lot of weakness coming out of the chief of staff.” This is a nasty, ugly story. What might save Flynn and Priebus, at least for now, is that there are so many warring White House factions and so many competing Trump storylines that the lack of focus could be Flynn’s friend.

THE SLEEPER STORY: Did the “deportation force” get its marching orders? That’s the concern in some immigrant communities, which are seeing aggressive enforcement actions that they fear speaks to a new tone as well as a new policy under the Trump administration. It’s not yet clear if this marks a true break by ICE from the previous administration. But a Trump executive order did make clear that ICE officers can judge whether an individual broadly poses “a risk to public safety” in prioritizing deportation. And Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told ABC’s Jim Avila last week that his department is just following the letter of the law: “People like me and ICE and other private citizens can’t pick and choose the laws they are gonna obey.” With the president’s travel ban stalled in court and more executive actions expected, how much Trump makes good on one of his shifting campaign promises – deportation – will become a bigger deal in coming days.

THE SHINY STORY: So the Department of Education can’t spell. More accurately, whoever runs the Department of Education’s Twitter account made an unfortunate series of typos – spelling W.E.B. Du Bois’ last name wrong in a quote, then typing “apologizes” instead of “apologies” in cleaning it up. It’s bad timing for careless errors, with an already embattled Cabinet secretary, Betsy DeVos, not even in the job for a full week, and critics of the department’s new leadership still energized after a nearly successful campaign to block her. But does anyone think dinging DeVos underlings for spelling – or blocking the secretary herself from entering a DC public school, for that matter – makes a point that will improve public education in this country? DeVos is in place for the long haul now. Both her fans and her detractors will need to look for true teachable moments, not gotcha spell-checks.

TLDR: The pressure on National Security Advisor Michael Flynn continues to mount, as it becomes clearer the conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the US may have been more than his original story, potentially misleading the VP and even violating the law.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: It wasn't all golf diplomacy this weekend at Mar-a-Lago. Saturday night, the president and Japanese prime minister came to the cameras and PM Shinzo Abe denounced North Korea's surprise missile launch. Trump expressed his support for Japan saying the US "stand behind" our "great ally 100 percent." (Credit: Susan Walsh/AP Photo)


--HAPPENING TODAY -- TRUMP HOSTS JUSTIN TRUDEAU AT THE WH: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the White House Monday, becoming the third world leader to meet with President Donald Trump face to face. The two leaders couldn't be more different. The two leaders' differences set the stage for what could be a tense discussion over how to handle the Syrian refugee crisis and defense cooperation in the Middle East, ABC’s ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN writes.

-MORE ON TRUMP AND TRUDEAU’S MEETING: Donald Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump will then have a roundtable discussion with Trudeau on the advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders. At. 2 p.m., the two leaders hold a joint press conference.

--WH SENIOR ADVISER STEPHEN MILLER: 'THE JUDICIARY IS NOT SUPREME:' Challenging a federal court's ruling, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller told ABC News "the judiciary is not supreme" and the president's powers on immigration "represent the apex of executive authority." Asked by ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' upholding a lower court's temporary restraining order on President Trump's executive action that temporarily bars entry into the U.S. of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Miller said, "We have equal branches of government in this country." ABC’s NICKI ROSSOLL has more:

--TRUMP ADVISER DOUBLES DOWN ON VOTER FRAUD CLAIMS AND OF 'THOUSANDS' OF VOTERS BUSED INTO N.H.: Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller doubled down on President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, including the president’s reported claim that thousands of voters were bused into New Hampshire to illegally cast ballots in the presidential election, ABC’s MERIDITH MCGRAW writes. “I can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics,” Miller said on “This Week” Sunday. “It’s very real; it’s very serious.”


TRUMP CONTINUES TWITTER ATTACK ON COURTS OVER STAY OF IMMIGRATION ORDER. President Trump on Sunday continued his Twitter attack on courts over the stay on his executive order temporarily barring travel into the U.S. of people from seven Muslim-majority countries. In an apparent reference to a U.S. district court's order blocking the president's executive action and an appeals court's upholding that ruling, Trump asserted there is a "court breakdown" that is allowing a surge in people from the seven countries coming into the U.S., notes ABC’s ALEXANDER MALLIN.

DEMOCRATS CONSIDER THEIR FUTURE AND WHO TO PICK AS PARTY CHAIR. Supporters of Congressman Keith Ellison's bid to become the next Democratic National Committee chair held mismatched signs -- some from a nurses’ union, others from different labor groups and the Minnesota representative's formal campaign for the party office. The hundred or so people who came to a Democratic Party meeting in Baltimore on Saturday backing Ellison's candidacy sang and marched around the building's lobby. But they weren't the only contingent there. ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS has more:

CONWAY'S COMMENT ON IVANKA TRUMP'S BRAND BEING BLOWN 'WAY OUT OF PROPORTION': WHITE HOUSE ADVISER. White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller defended presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway's televised pitch to "go buy Ivanka's stuff" as a lighthearted remark and said "people are blowing this thing way out of proportion." ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS asked Miller about the House Oversight Committee's two leading members requesting the Office of the Government Ethics to review Conway's comments made during a Fox News interview on Thursday and to recommend any appropriate disciplinary action, notes ABC’s NICKI ROSSOLL.

TOP DEMOCRAT ON HOUSE OVERSIGHT PANEL: KELLYANNE CONWAY MADE 'BLATANT' VIOLATION OF ETHICS RULES. The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee said presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway’s public pitch for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line was a "blatant" violation of federal ethics rules. “This was a textbook case of violation" of the rules, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on "This Week" on Sunday. "You cannot go out there as an employee of the government and advertise for [Ivanka] Trump or anybody else and their products. You can't do that.” ABC’s ALI DUKAKIS has more:

WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: PRESIDENT TRUMP IS 'NOT READING' THE CONSTITUTION. Washington State’s attorney general said he "will use every tool I have,” in the court challenge to President Trump’s executive order on immigration and would not rule out deposing the president, reports ABC’s QUINN SCANLAN. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson brought Washington's suit with Minnesota against the president over the immigration order, leading a federal judge to put a temporary block on the order on Feb. 4, a ruling that was upheld last week by a federal appeals court.

ACLU PROMISES 'RAPID RESPONSE TEAM' TO COMBAT DEPORTATIONS. The ACLU, the non-profit rights group whose membership and donations have surged since it launched legal actions against President Trump's executive order limiting immigration, told ABC News that it plans on creating a "rapid response team" to combat a potential rise in deportations under the current administration. The rapid response team would bring together the ACLU, private law firms and local community groups to ensure that individuals facing deportations have access to counsel right away. ABC’s MICHAEL EDISON HAYDEN has more.

MELISSA MCCARTHY RETURNS TO 'SNL' AS SEAN SPICER. Melissa McCarthy returned to "Saturday Night Live" this weekend to reprise her role as White House press secretary Sean Spicer, and as she did last week, she portrayed him as eccentric, short-tempered and disrespectful to journalists. According to ABC’s DAVID CAPLAN, McCarthy's Spicer also spoofed the real-world issue of retailers dropping Ivanka Trump's clothing and accessories collection.


@rickklein: .@jonkarl reports that when you ask WH aides if Trump has confidence in Flynn, "they can't give you an answer to that." @GMA

@tarapalmeri: "Queen without an army" Kellyanne Conway is biding her time for a bigger role in the WH down the line

@GlennThrush: A very important @SangerNYT @EricSchmittNYT @peterbakernyt story on the major crisis at NSC 3 weeks into Trump/Flynn

@DavidWright_CNN: Senator @ChrisCoons on MSNBC: "Turmoil is not a word I like to hear describing the National Security Council." ( )

@netanyahu: Flying now to DC to meet with President Trump. The alliance between the US and Israel has always been strong and it's about to get stronger.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events