The Note: GOP weariness grows as Trump defenses give way

The deeper things get, the more Trump needs his Republican Party to stay loyal.

October 23, 2019, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The deeper things get and the more likely impeachment is, the more President Donald Trump needs his Republican Party to stay loyal.

That's not lost on the president. But what he may be losing over time is the ability to convince GOP leaders that loyalty is worth its increasingly evident risks.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Oct. 21, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Oct. 21, 2019.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Revelations in the Ukraine investigation pile onto poll numbers that show growing support for Trump's impeachment and removal from office. Now it's the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testifying to Congress about arrangements that point toward the quid pro quo the president insists didn't exist.

Trump is responding with complaints about the process that are awkward for Republicans to defend -- his "lynching" Tweet is Exhibit A -- and thinly veiled political threats at GOP leaders who dare defy him.

The next few weeks with test the president's political sway. Three red states -- Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi -- will elect governors on Nov. 5, with at least two of those races competitive for Democrats.

Meanwhile, Kentucky's own Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- who is up for reelection himself next year -- is serving notice that he doesn't like having Trump put words in his mouth.

As the president exhorts his party to "get tougher and fight," Trump's ability to move voters one way or the other could be tied to his ability to hold votes back in Washington.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

William Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, delivered damning testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Here are a handful -- of many -- key takeaways:

First, Taylor described a series of events in which he was routinely cut out of top-level meetings despite his appointment, and, more, he argued, "official foreign policy was undercut by the irregular efforts led by [Rudy] Giuliani," the president’s personal attorney

Second, Taylor indicated that Trump was at the center of decisions to condition both an Oval Office meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as well as the withholding of congressionally approved security aid. According to Taylor, the conditions were that Zelenskiy publicly stated that he was investigating both the energy company former Vice President Joe Biden’s son worked for and a conspiracy theory about whether Ukrainians were involved in 2016 election interference instead of -- or as well as -- the Russians. Taylor said at one point he talked to colleagues about the possibility of having another Ukrainian official, aside from the president, make a statement about conducting investigations.

PHOTO: Ambassador William Taylor, is escorted by Capitol Police as he arrives to testify before House committees as part of the Democrats' impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, at the Capitol, Oct. 22, 2019.
Ambassador William Taylor, is escorted by Capitol Police as he arrives to testify before House committees as part of the Democrats' impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, at the Capitol, Oct. 22, 2019.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Third, Taylor argued that the Ukrainians were "confused" by having to deal with two competing teams of U.S. intermediaries: the official State Department ones and the other team with private citizens, such as Giuliani, and government officials, such as Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Fourth, though he was "chief of mission," in Ukraine, Taylor claimed he was not given a readout of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy in late July or at any point before the memo of the call was made public from the White House.

Fifth, at the end of August -- a month after the call -- Taylor said the Ukrainians were asking about the withheld security assistance and he did not have an "explanation."

And last, Taylor made the case that the U.S. aid to Ukraine was essential for fighting off very real, imminent and lethal Russian aggression, something Republicans have long said as well.

The TIP with Jeffrey Cook

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is launching a new TV ad campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire titled, "Whiner in the White House." She turned heads at last week's debate in Ohio, most notably by challenging the more progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren's "pipe dream" promise to pay for universal health care. Since then -- in just seven days -- Klobuchar raised $2.1 million in donations. The campaign had raised a total of $4.8 million over the previous three months.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to local residents at a campaign event on the start of her bus tour in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Oct. 18, 2019.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to local residents at a campaign event on the start of her bus tour in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Oct. 18, 2019.
Charlie Neibergall/AP, FILE

The ad will air for a week on televisions across Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the presidential primary. Audiences will see the ad begin with Trump speaking animatedly to cameras as Klobuchar says, "Americans are tired of having a whiner in the White House.

I'm Amy Klobuchar. As president, I won't govern by tweet."

She goes on to list some of her top issues: infrastructure, prescription drug prices and rural challenges.

Since the debate, the senator from Minnesota has visited 10 counties in New Hampshire and 12 in Iowa. In order to make the next debate, Klobuchar will need two more qualifying polls as she and fellow Midwestern moderate Mayor Pete Buttigieg attempt to maneuver themselves into the top-tier, hoping that any loss of momentum by Biden will be their gain.


The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told members of Congress during a closed-door deposition Tuesday that he believed it was "crazy" to withhold aid to Ukraine only if the country's leadership agreed to open an investigation into 2016 election interference and business matters related to former Vice President Joe Biden's family. Read his opening statement to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, who tells us how lawmakers are reacting to President Donald Trump's tweet comparing the impeachment inquiry to a "lynching," and what we learned from diplomat William Taylor's testimony on Tuesday. Then, New York Magazine writer Brian Feldman previews Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday.


  • President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the ninth annual Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh at 3:40 p.m.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., appears on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" at 11:35 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence travels to Michigan and tours the USS St. Louis at 10:40 a.m. (CDT) and then delivers remarks at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine at 11:20 a.m. He then travels to Illinois to deliver remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement at Uline Headquarters.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee beginning at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill.
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper is expected to appear before House impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill.
  • Andrew Yang holds a campaign event at 8 a.m. in Manchester, New Hampshire. Later he hosts a meet-and-greet event at noon in Concord. He then holds a town hall at 3:30 p.m. at Plymouth State and another at 6:30 p.m. in Conway.
  • A public viewing and community celebration will be held for the late-Rep. Elijah Cummings at Morgan State University. An arrival ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m., the public viewing will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., there will be a special presentation by fraternal organizations from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then a tribute service will be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gives a eulogy at the funeral for her brother, former Baltimore Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro III. A viewing will start at 9 a.m., followed by a funeral mass at 11 a.m. in Baltimore at St. Ignatius Church.
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, appears on The Washington Post Live for an interview at 9 a.m. in Washington, D.C. He later holds a town hall at 5:15 p.m. (CDT) at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., speaks at Manchester Central High School at 9:45 a.m., in Manchester, New Hampshire. Later he holds a town meeting at Plymouth Regional Senior Center at 5:30 p.m. in Plymouth. He then holds another town meeting in Sanbornville at 7 p.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden delivers an Economic Policy address at 10 a.m. at Scranton Cultural Center, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Later he holds a town hall at 11:45 a.m. at Jackson County Fairgrounds in Maquoketa. He then attends a community event at 7 p.m. in Dubuque.
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in a grow house tour at 8 a.m. (PDT) in Las Vegas and a dispensary tour at 9:30 a.m. Later, he participates in a Nevada Alliance of Retired Americans Roundtable at 11 a.m.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks at the National Press Club at 1 p.m. in Washington. Later, he holds a fundraising happy hour at Hawk 'n' Dove at 5:30 p.m.
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro joins a town hall hosted by the NAACP of Black Hawk County in Waterloo, Iowa, at 5 p.m. (CDT)
  • Former Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., ends his 11-state road trip with stops in Los Angeles and Simi Valley, California.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

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