The Note: Focus on SCOTUS already fades as Trump changes subjects

There are reasons to think the focus on the Supreme Court won’t and can’t last.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

This wild week featuring grief, discord and dismay made clear that Trump is changing the subject in his scattershot ways, when the country wasn't doing that for him.

Handed a potential political gift of a Supreme Court vacancy, the president has oscillated between election security, health care, the economy, vaccine development and themes that draw on racial and economic divisions -- all to disrupt a race that appears to be drifting away from him.

For his part, former Vice President Joe Biden is calculating that the subject can't -- or, at least, shouldn't -- be changed. He was notably quiet during a loud few days, putting his focus on the grim milestone of 200,000 American deaths from COVID-19, and casting the Supreme Court vacancy as critical for the question of health care in America.

Friday might mark a moment to pause, with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg becoming the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol. On Saturday, Trump intends to name a replacement, setting up nomination hearings over the last month of the campaign -- another unprecedented situation in a year filled with them.

But even if that fight wasn't already largely settled -- Senate Republicans say they have the votes, though there's not a nominee to vote for yet -- there are growing reasons to think the focus on the Supreme Court won't and can't last.

Biden is worrying some on the left for not being a bigger presence in the moment. Next week's debate ensures a different pace -- and Trump has a few days before then to change messaging anyway.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Voting rights experts say the easiest form of voter suppression is telling people their vote doesn't matter. It's worth considering if that is Trump's real aim with all of his talk of not trusting elections.

While repeatedly telling Americans he does not trust states to handle ballots this week, the president offered no solutions and no remedy.

Not trusting the process means you can question the result and increasingly the president is forecasting that that is what he intends to do.

Some Republican senators accused Democrats of adding to their own layer of unhelpful early skepticism around the process. They pointed to Hillary Clinton's remarks this summer advising Biden not to concede if the election is close and to wait to fight it out, presumably in recounts and court decisions.

"Any other suggestion that somehow we won't finish this election year appropriately, of course, I'm concerned about that but both sides are unhelpful on this topic," said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Thursday.

The fact is through wars, depressions and assassinations, elections and transfers of power have gone forward in this country, even if messy. And only one candidate now is talking about listening to states and results.

Maybe that itself is the most remarkable part.

"The orderly transfer of authority, as called for in the Constitution, routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle," Sen. Bernie Sanders said Thursday quoting President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

The TIP with Quinn Scanlan

This entire election cycle, national and state Democrats have been insistent that Georgia is a battleground. Even Republican Sen. David Perdue, who's up for reelection this November, conceded back in April that "Georgia is in play."

But now Democrats look at risk of being shut out of the guaranteed January runoff for the "jungle primary" special Senate election on the ballot this year, and if Perdue's race also advances to a runoff, which current polling suggests it may, Democrats could lose their shot at winning their first statewide federal election in Georgia since 2000.

In the special, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Rep. Doug Collins and the Rev. Raphael Warnock are in the tightest of races, all hovering around 20% support, according to a recent Monmouth poll. While Loeffler and Collins are running a Republican primary campaign, trying to out-conservative each other every chance they get, Warnock is trying to consolidate Democratic support, but in the 20-plus candidate race, one candidate in particular is proving to be a problem for that effort.

Democrat Matt Lieberman, the son of former Sen. Joe Lieberman, has lost support since the summer, but he's holding onto enough of it to potentially be a spoiler for Democrats. On Thursday, Stacey Abrams called for Lieberman to "step back ... search his conscience ... (and) understand that he is not called for this moment."

Lieberman as of now, is staying on course, accusing Abrams of "candidate suppression," and saying it's up to the people to choose. But if the Democratic vote stays split, the people may end up sending two Republicans to the runoff. And if Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff end up there, too, Republican enthusiasm to turn out for two races could end up being much greater than Democrats'.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Supreme Court contributor Kate Shaw, who tells us more about President Donald Trump's Supreme Court finalists as he prepares to announce his pick. ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks analyzes Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power. And we talk to West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis about Indiana's Phase 5 reopening plan, which goes into effect Saturday.

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. When asked on Wednesday, President Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose in November. In this emergency installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses ways that Trump could subvert the results of the election and how his rhetoric affects American democracy.

"Your Voice Your Vote: The Breakdown" ABC News Live will add a new afternoon political program, "Your Voice Your Vote: The Breakdown," to its schedule. Anchored by "ABC News Live Update" Anchor Diane Macedo and ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran, the new 30-minute original program will unpack issues important to voters to help viewers make an educated decision about where they stand on an issue. The show will air weekdays, beginning on Monday, at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT.


  • Oliva Troye, former White House Coronavirus task force aid to the vice president, joins ABC's "The View."
  • The late-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol building. She will be the first woman to lie in state. Her formal arrival ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. in National Statuary Hall. A departure ceremony will take place on the East Center Steps at 12:30 p.m., with a group of bipartisan women members of the House and Senate.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will pay their respects to Ginsburg at the U.S. Capitol.
  • President Donald Trump participates in a Latinos for Trump Roundtable at 11 a.m. in Doral, Florida. He delivers remarks on Black Economic Empowerment: The Platinum Plan in Atlanta at 2:40 p.m. At 6:45 p.m., he participates in a roundtable with supporters in Washington, D.C. He delivers remarks at a campaign event at 9 p.m. in Newport News, Virginia. On Saturday, the president is expected to announce his new Supreme Court nominee at 5 p.m. Later, he will host a campaign event in Middletown, Pennsylvania, at 7 p.m.
  • Second lady Karen Pence travels to Michigan for an "Evangelicals for Trump" event at 11 a.m.
  • Harris participates in the virtual 111th NAACP National Convention at 2 p.m.
  • Former second lady Jill Biden travels to Maine on Friday. She will then virtually travel to Ohio. On Saturday, Biden and Doug Emhoff will travel to Papillion, Nebraska, to participate in a listening session with veterans and military families at 10:30 a.m. CT. Then, they will travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to participate in a Biden-Harris event at 3 p.m. CT.
  • Sunday on ABC's "This Week": ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one exclusively with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. And the Powerhouse Roundtable discusses all the week's politics with former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, former Chicago Mayor and ABC News Contributor Rahm Emanuel, Republican Strategist and ABC News Contributor Sara Fagen and Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and ABC News Contributor Leah Wright Rigueur.
  • 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 key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back Monday for the latest.

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