The Note: Mueller fallout keeps campaign in limbo

A week that was supposed to bring clarity ends with more confusion.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

A week that was supposed to bring clarity to the presidential race ends with more confusion.

But the non-conclusion to the Robert Mueller saga is delaying any tight focus on Democrats running for president. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now on record saying Attorney General William Barr lied to Congress, and 2020ers are mixing calls for his resignation with calls for his -- and Trump's -- impeachment.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week found a plurality of 47% of voters saying that they believe the president obstructed justice. Yet 56% believe Congress should not start impeachment proceedings. And that was before the special counsel's concerns about the Attorney General's initial public release of information from the Mueller report were revealed.

Even new information doesn't necessarily change political realities. And having a frontrunner, it turns out, does not guarantee a center of gravity in the race.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

With 21 Democratic presidential primary candidates, someone will not make the first debate stage.

The Democratic National Committee decided they were drawing the line at 20: That's 10 candidates, each night, over two nights. Someone will get bumped, even if all 21 were to meet the DNC's previously disclosed thresholds: polling at least 1% in three national or early-state polls or having received donations from 65,000 unique donors.

If more than 20 candidates qualify for the debate, the party says the plan is to select the top 20 "using a methodology that gives primacy to candidates meeting both thresholds, followed by the highest polling average, followed by the most unique donors."

Take note, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, made a point Thursday of arguing that she has met both the polling requirement and the donor requirement. Expect more of this jockeying to come.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Call it the first full barnstorm weekend of campaigning. Biden's entry into the race seems to have shifted us beyond the initial stages the 2020 Democratic primary and brought the race to its next -- and equally uncertain -- phase.

Biden will swing through the state of South Carolina this weekend, which will be a critical test of his strength with African-American voters, while a whopping seven candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, will be crisscrossing Iowa.

Recent polling showed Warren legitimately challenging Sanders for the No. 2 spot among Democrats. But both are likely waiting for Biden's initial boom to wane, as the first debates of the cycle are now less than two months away.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast.Friday morning's episode features ABC News' Katherine Faulders, who explains why White House lawyer Emmett Flood sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr about the Mueller report last month. And ABC News' Luis Martinez tells us about the growing number of sexual assaults in the military. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump will eat lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. and then welcome to America the prime minister of the Slovak Republic.
  • Several candidates will be traveling around Iowa. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is hosting an organizing event in Ames. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., will be traveling around the state for various meet-and-greet events with supporters. Marianne Williamson will be Clinton, attending the Clinton County "Democrat Hall of Fame" Dinner and Fundraiser.
  • Rep Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, will address the New York State United Teachers delegates on Friday in Albany, New York, during the union's 47th annual Representative Assembly.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., travels to Detroit to deliver remarks at the National Organization of Black County Officials Economic Development Conference at the Detroit Marriott. She then heads Iowa on Saturday to host a series of policy roundtables and meet-and-greet events around the state.
  • Saturday, Warren, Swalwell and Williamson extend their stay in Iowa to participate in meet-and-greet events and town halls.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., travels to Osage, Iowa, on Saturday to deliver an agriculture policy address. He is scheduled to attend various campaign events in the state on Sunday.
  • Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke travels Saturday to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas for a two-day visit, during which he will host a town hall and deliver a commencement speech at Paul Quinn College.
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro travels to Fresno, California, on Saturday to deliver the keynote speech at the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee's annual fundraising dinner.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., heads to Iowa on Saturday after formally announcing his presidential candidacy on Thursday.
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will travel to New Hampshire for several campaign events starting Friday, including his first economic address since announcing his candidacy.
  • Andrew Yang has two campaign rallies planned for this weekend. The first is Friday in Seattle, followed by another on Sunday in Minneapolis.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden makes a campaign stop in South Carolina on Sunday to visit with supporters and to host a "Biden for President" finance event.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will spend four days touring California, where he will participate in various campaign events.
  • On Sunday, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., visits Michigan, a key battleground state where she will be the featured speaker at the 64th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner.
  • Sunday on "This Week": ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl goes on the trail in Iowa with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. And the Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week's politics, with ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce, ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, Democratic strategist and Collective PAC co-founder Stefanie Brown James and Axios National Political Reporter Jonathan Swan.

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