The TAKE with Rick Klein
Two pieces of new exclusive ABC News reporting expand the public understanding of the potential avenues Mueller is pursuing.
News that fired former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe had opened an investigation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ comments about Russia contacts points the way toward something Mueller may have been quite interested in. Even if that portion of Mueller’s inquiry is now closed, it’s unclear whether the special counsel may still be pursuing other matters related to Sessions, statements he made to Congress – or other people – since he was confirmed.
Separately, Mueller’s team is interested in understanding more about the relationship between the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, and Cambridge Analytica, sources tell ABC News. The firm that has sparked a crisis at Facebook over alleged privacy violations and was purportedly working closely with the Trump data operation. (The Trump campaign has said they never used data from Cambridge Analytica).
As always, no one knows what Mueller knows.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Maybe, just maybe, some voters still like to be pitched on compromise and value leaders’ willingness to work across the aisle.
If two can be a trend, then take newbie Democrat Conor Lamb’s high-profile upset in Pennsylvania and incumbent Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski’s staying power in Illinois. Voters in both cases were willing to vote blue – for candidates open to purple.
Primaries traditionally reward a tendency toward more extreme voices in the parties. In the era of Trump and the so-called “Resistance,”candidates who want to dig in and dig deep seemed inevitable.
But that may not be the path to power.
Will some Democratic strategists this week consider new, more moderate talking-points for their candidates? Perhaps.
On the other hand, you could argue Republicans did pretty well under President Barack Obama, by essentially abandoning the middle.
Lipinski did benefit from some outside money – from the center, and even the right. United for Progress dumped $1 million into his race, and the group told ABC News it wants to defend centrist candidates going forward.
“The calculus will change for the members who want to be more independent-minded, but are scared they won’t have the political backing,” Matt Kalmans, a strategist for United for Progress, told ABC.
The TIP with Nia Phillips
In Mississippi, Republican leaders are once again gearing up for a battle on the right between two candidates in a special election.
Called a “rock-solid conservative” by Gov. Bryant, McDaniel named Hyde-Smith as part of the “DC establishment.” The Republican candidate also disapproving her appointment, writing “…was not at all surprising that they would choose a former Democrat...”
But Wicker, who earned an early endorsement from President Trump, applauded Hyde-Smith as the governor’s pick saying, “Governor Phil Bryant has made an excellent and historic pick…I know she will be an effective, conservative Senator from day one.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
NEED TO READ
EXCLUSIVE: Fired FBI official authorized criminal probe of Sessions, sources say. Nearly a year before Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior FBI official Andrew McCabe for what Sessions called a "lack of candor," McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. (Mike Levine) http://abcn.ws/2DKRLzz
Special Counsel studies Trump campaign ties to Cambridge Analytica, sources say. As questions have mounted about data firm Cambridge Analytica’s alleged misuse of Facebook data from up to 50 million user profiles, it has not only caught the eye of Congressional investigators but also the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. (Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Megan Christie, Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2u8b9XM
GOP-affiliated groups have spent more than #3 million at Trump properties. Republican-affiliated campaigns, committees and outside groups have spent more than $3 million at various Trump properties since just after the 2016 election through last month, with roughly $924,000 coming from the Republican National Committee, according to an ABC News analysis of Federal Election Commission reports. (Soo Rin Kim and Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2HWaJ8S
Senators warn of ‘urgent’ threat to US election. With the midterm elections around the corner, lawmakers Wednesday warned in stark terms of the dire need to harden U.S. election system against attacks from foreign adversaries, warning that, even after Russia’s brazen attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election, the country is still woefully unprepared. (Trish Turner, Mary Bruce and Mariam Khan) http://abcn.ws/2pAzOiv
Spending bill will stipulate CDC can study gun violence. The omnibus spending bill currently making its way through Congress will stipulate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can study gun violence, Democratic and Republican sources confirm to ABC News -- research the agency has steered clear of since the so-called "Dickey Amendment" was passed in 1996. (Erin Dooley) http://abcn.ws/2DK0dPO
‘Sex and the City’ star Cynthia Nixon kicks off NY governor’s bid. “Good evening, unqualified lesbians!” That was how “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon opened her launch party for her campaign for governor of New York, quickly embracing an oddly phrased comment from erstwhile mayoral candidate Christine Quinn -- who decried Nixon's lack of experience in an interview with The New York Post Tuesday -- and turning it into the night’s biggest applause line. (Evan McMurry) http://abcn.ws/2GcgHFM
Sen. Kamala Harris ‘actively considering’ writing second book. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., may not be ready to embrace speculations about her 2020 intentions, but it appears she may be ready for a second book. (Paola Chavez) http://abcn.ws/2DKfBeW
Trump lashes out on Twitter after being criticized for congratulating Putin. President Donald Trump is pushing back hard after being criticized for congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election in a phone call Tuesday. (Meridith McGraw, Alexander Mallin, Mary Bruce, Jordyn Phelps) http://abcn.ws/2Gel03h
Lawmakers close to agreement on $1.3 trillion spending bill to avoid shutdown. Working against a midnight Friday deadline, Democrats and Republicans are coming together on a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill to avert a government shutdown, although they’re punting on some of the more contentious issues, including a solution for the fate of some 700,000 DACA recipients – undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. (John Parkinson) http://abcn.ws/2FZbKwl
Obamas encourage Parkland shooting survivors in letter. As the country continues to look for answers and young people prepare to demand a response on gun legislation, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama wrote to the Parkland, Fla. students whose activism has galvanized a nation. (Erica King) http://abcn.ws/2IDspr7
The New York Times is profiling a reactionary wave of former Facebook users abandoning the platform in the wake of reports that political data firm Cambridge Analytica was able to access private user data while working on President Trump’s 2016 campaign. http://nyti.ms/2DLvotQ
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is apparently furious over the leak of prepared notes from President Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that contained the phrase “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to a Politico report. http://politi.co/2puPpjm
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.