The Note: Oversight wars define next phase of Washington’s COVID-19 response

"I'll be the oversight," Trump declared last week.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

There's a new war for the self-described wartime president -- one that's familiar in President Donald Trump's Washington, just with more zeroes attached than usual.

Never before has the federal government been poised to spend this much money this quickly in as many different ways as the novel coronavirus crisis demands.

Never before has a president bristled this much at the very concept of Congress or watchdogs inside his own executive branch figuring out what's going out the door and why.

"I'll be the oversight," Trump declared last week.

That was before he removed the intelligence community inspector general last Friday. This week, the Trump White House replaced the chairman of the oversight panel charged with policing spending under the $2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is again saying that he's not happy to see action against inspectors general, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling it a "disturbing pattern of retaliation by the president."

Pelosi is trying to wrangle forces inside the Democratic Party that want to look back as well as forward in oversight efforts, with a new committee being created and several more existing committees waiting in the wings.

The administration is signaling little inclination to cooperate -- not surprisingly, given the direction from the president. Trump grew agitated at the mere mention of the words "inspector general" this week when asked about a report at a press briefing, and he has made clear he views oversight efforts as a continuation of impeachment and a whole lot more.

The White House is already seeking more money for lending to small businesses, and Congress is working on another enormous batch of spending. But those efforts could easily be sidetracked over questions that the president doesn't think should be asked at all.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The president expressed no concern or empathy for Wisconsinites who braved potential health hazards to vote Tuesday. Instead, he criticized mail-in voting at-large, though mail-in systems have successfully expanded ballot access for many Americans in states nationwide.

Without offering any evidence to support his wild claim, Trump asserted that mail-in voting is "corrupt" and "horrible."

Remember last week, he said out loud what many Republicans only whisper -- that he feared Republicans would "never" be elected again, if Congress and states made it easier for more American citizens to vote. The thinking, of course, is that there are more Democrats in the country.

Last year, a Republican operative was in fact indicted in an unlawful and coordinated scheme to tamper with absentee ballots in a North Carolina congressional race, but by-and-large election fraud remains incredibly rare and easily identified.

Big picture, whether on the state level alone or with the help of federal elected officials, governments are going to have to quickly figure out how to make sure Americans can exercise their democratic rights and duties in the coming months.

The TIP with Kendall Karson and Meg Cunningham

Wisconsin, the first state to restart the 2020 race that has been on pause for weeks, boldly took the risk of moving forward with an election at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, sparking a broader conversation about how the existing democratic process withstands the outbreak.

With some voters waiting in line for hours on Tuesday, and all trying to keep 6 feet apart, it's clear not much will stop Americans from exercising their right to vote. While the potentially harmful ramifications of Wisconsin's risk might not be known right away -- if at all -- the coming weeks will reveal the lessons learned from the chaotic election.

"It's not a total loss in the sense that there's an awful lot of things that we're going to look at about what happened today and see if we can't make sure that for the November election that we have the ability for people to be able to vote safely," Jay Heck, the director of Common Cause Wisconsin, said of Tuesday's election.

The voting process in Wisconsin also highlighted the difficulties of shifting to vote by mail -- underscored by the nearly 10,000 voters who never received an absentee ballot after requesting one. "We have to make it easier for people to be able to vote by absentee ballot. Before November, we're just gonna have to make sure that people understand the obstacles," Heck said.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Chief National Affairs correspondent Tom Llamas, who takes us through another grim day in New York City as health care workers deal with a surge in COVID-19 deaths. ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl tells us why President Donald Trump is lashing out at inspector generals across the government. And, ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz details the saga of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which culminated Tuesday in the resignation of the acting Navy secretary. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a special adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization, joins ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on the podcast. The former special adviser on health policy to the director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council under President Barack Obama talks about the novel coronavirus pandemic. http://bit.ly/2kI0pXP

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., appears on ABC's' "The View."
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a virtual Biden for President finance event. In the evening, he hosts a virtual town hall on unemployment and issues pertaining to working families.
  • President Donald Trump participates in a phone call at 1:45 p.m. with State, Local, and Tribal Leaders on the COVID-19 response and mitigation. At 2:30 p.m. he participates in a call with faith leaders.
  • Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force hold a briefing at 5 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis every weekday.

    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.