The Note: The risks of talking impeachment on the trail

There are some topics we know animate voters on both sides.

The TAKE with MaryAlice Parks

There are some topics (and faces) we know animate voters on both sides: immigration, health care and President Barack Obama.

In the last few days, some top Republicans appear to think impeachment might as well.

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told a crowd Thursday that the 2018 midterms would be a referendum on the issue, encouraging Republican voters to make sure Democrats don’t gain the majority in the House and the chance to pursue it.

During an interview with ABC News earlier this week, conservative strategist Matt Schlapp, dropped a similar line.

"Losing a majority means he gets less things done, means the Democrats will move to impeach [the president] in the House."

Many in the Democratic leadership have said it’s politically risky to talk about the issue on the trail and that it is not what voters care about. Others say it's a reality.

"My question for the Democratic establishment is, 'How corrupt is too corrupt for you?'" Tom Steyer, a Democratic organizer who started a petition to impeach the president, told a crowd of progressives Thursday.

Asked about Giuliani’s comments during an interview with ABC News, Steyer laughed out loud and called Giuliani absurd. "This is not the thing that excites the Republicans base," Steyer said. He talked about how Democratic turnout has been "terrible" the last few cycles and the real task at hand, in his opinion, is not talking to a base but expanding it.

"The real question is: who is showing up?"

The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek

For all the president's talk of "witch hunts" and "fake news" this week, one fact remains strikingly clear just 95 days before the November midterm election: The attempts to spread misinformation, foment discord and undermine American democracy are alive and well.

The revelation this week that Facebook had discovered a coordinated misinformation campaign that used contemporary political controversies such as the #AbolishICE movement and the "Unite the Right" rallies planned for later this month, shows that whoever is behind this most recent attack — potentially Russia according to the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — is keenly aware of the exploitable divisions within the American public.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sanders said this week that the entities behind the most recent campaign went to even "greater lengths to obscure their identities," than the Russian-linked actors that spread misinformation in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

That revelation clearly sent off alarm bells in the White House, who sent out top brass from the intelligence community Thursday to assure the American public they are taking the threat seriously.

"Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

This week we got proof that the existential threat to American democracy, be it from Russia or any actor that seeks to undermine our political process and national unity through the spread of false and malicious information, still very much exists.

The TIP with Christopher Donato

The most expensive gubernatorial primary in Tennessee history is now over, and Bill Lee is the Republican nominee and Karl Dean is the Democratic nominee.

The candidates spent a record $51 million during their primary fights, even injecting more than $41 million of their own money into their campaigns, either through direct contributions or loans. Most of that was spent on TV and radio ads and direct-mail flyers.

Diane Black, a conservative, aligned herself with President Trump and began attacking her opponents, labeling them as moderates. While Black and fellow Republican Randy Boyd aired attack ads, Dean kept his campaign positive, something he mentioned to his supporters at his victory party Thursday night.

"I am really proud of the campaign we have run," Dean said. "We didn't go down that road, and I'm not gonna start now."

Lee also mentioned in an ad that "all these attack ads, they’re a great example of what’s wrong with politics."

Vice President Mike Pence endorsed his "friend for years" Black in the GOP primary. Trump declined to make an endorsement, however, during his rally for U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn in May, Trump wished Black luck, saying, "She’s in a big race. Good luck Diane."

Lee and Dean will now campaign against each other for governor until Election Day, Nov. 6.


  • President Trump is spending the weekend in Bedminster, New Jersey.
  • This Week on "This Week": George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one with Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, only on “This Week” Sunday. Plus, the Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, with ABC News Contributor and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Communications Director for Sen. Ted Cruz and CNN Contributor Amanda Carpenter, author of “Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies To Us,” New York Times Editorial Writer Michelle Cottle, and Open Society Foundations President and former Obama White House Political Affairs Director Patrick Gaspard.

    "They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!" — President Trump in a tweet Thursday.


    ABC News Podcast "Start Here." On Friday's episode: ABC News' Jonathan Karl discusses what intelligence officials said about election interference at the White House briefing, ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs talks about the proposed ban on fuel efficiency standards for cars, and ABC News' Trish Turner checks in from Day 4 of the Manafort trial.


    ‘We’re about to get really nasty over the wall’: Trump repeats shutdown threat before midterms. Despite assurances from a number of prominent Republicans on Capitol Hill that the country will avoid another government shutdown at the end of September, President Donald Trump Thursday repeated his much-publicized stance that a closure is in the cards — and that he would prefer for it to come before the midterm elections. (Cheyenne Haslett and Adam Kelsey)

    Results now official in Tennessee primary elections. Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn have captured their party's nominations for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee, The Associated Press reported. (Christopher Donato)

    Top intelligence officials make surprise visit to White House briefing to stress election security. Many of the nation's top intelligence officials made a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing Thursday to send a message from the podium that President Donald Trump and the rest of the U.S. government are prepared to take on foreign election interference, including from Russia. (Meridith McGraw)

    Trump and Kim exchange letters amid denuclearization doubts. After receiving another letter from Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump on Thursday thanked the North Korean dictator for his "kind action" in handing over the possible remains of U.S. soldiers from the Korean War. (Conor Finnegan)

    Remains from North Korea likely American soldiers who fought at Chosin Reservoir. The 55 boxes of human remains North Korea transferred to the United States this week are “consistent” with being American service members who lost their lives in the Korean War, according to the chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. (Meena Venkataramanan and Luis Martinez)

    WH spokesperson Sarah Sanders refuses to say news media is not the 'enemy of the people'. President Donald Trump’s spokesperson, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, refused to answer whether she agrees with him that the news media is the “enemy of the people” during Thursday’s briefing — despite being asked by reporters several times. (Elizabeth Brown-Kaiser)

    White House dodges 'QAnon' questions as conspiracy theory hits mainstream. An anonymous figure, known as 'Q,' claims to be deeply embedded in Trump's inner circle with access to a top-secret security clearance, providing incremental cryptic clues for far-right fringe Internet sleuths to debate and decode. (Alexander Mallin)

    Prosecutors in Manafort trial now say they have 'every intention' to call star witness. One day after surprising the judge by suggesting the prosecution’s star witness “may not” take the stand, an attorney with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team pivoted Thursday, announcing it has "every intention" of having Paul Manafort’s former business partner Rick Gates testify. (Trish Turner and Allison Pecorin)

    Democrats asking whether Trump golf club members got Air Force One tours. A group of Democratic senators is asking the Pentagon to investigate whether President Donald Trump and his family gave improper access and tours of Air Force One to members of the president’s golf clubs, which they believe could be a violation of government ethics laws. (Miriam Khan)

    In Trump's shadow, Scott Walker seeks 3rd term as Wisconsin governor. As incumbent Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker seeks reelection to a third term, he may be in for a rough road ahead that reflects the GOP’s struggle to hold onto its identity in the age of President Donald Trump. (Meena Venkataramanan)

    Senator calls for investigation of US companies' relationships with Russian arms manufacturers. A U.S. senator is pushing the Treasury Department to investigate the relationships between a pair of U.S.-based companies and major weapons and ammunition manufacturers in Russia, ABC News has learned. (Pete Madden)

    FiveThirtyEight takes a look at the struggles of House Republicans running for higher office.

    After more than 100 men have come forward to share details of abuse by a team doctor at Ohio State University, the New York Times reports on the men of the #UsToo movement. "It can happen even to guys."

    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.