The Note: Russia hearings will bring more noise - and a notable silence

While Trump is overseas, there's new developments in the Russia investigations.

ByVeronica Stracqualursi
May 23, 2017, 7:44 AM


THE TAKE with ABC News’ Rick Klein

We’ve reached the stage of the Russia investigations where those who don’t speak could cause as much damage to President Trump as those who do. Start with Michael Flynn, whose decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment – and withhold documents from Senate discovery as well – suggests that he’s focused entirely on protecting himself. Chris Christie’s latest contribution to the story – “I wouldn't let Gen. Flynn into the White House, let alone give him a job,” he said – only deepens the mystery of Trump’s loyalty to a man he was warned about by the head of his transition team, the outgoing president, and the then-acting attorney general. Then there’s ousted FBI director James Comey, who we now know won’t appear in front of Congress before he coordinates with the new special counsel, Robert Mueller, who also happens to have been Comey’s predecessor and a mentor. If Comey winds up not testifying, that will speak volumes about the direction of Mueller’s investigation, under the presumption that Mueller considers Comey to be a witness in his inquiry. On this day that a former CIA director will be joined by the current NSA director and current DNI on the Hill, the stories that aren’t being told are adding up fast.


“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won't call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that is a great name. I will call them from now on losers because that is what they are. They are losers.” - President Trump on the deadly Manchester attack

THE SLEEPER STORY with ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe

He’s making himself “very clear.” Gov. Chris Christie would never have given Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn a White House job - that’s if it was up to him, of course. There’s still all that talk of the New Jersey governor getting a White House job at some point; if that happens, he’ll come having said, basically, “told you so.” Christie said he didn’t “need to feel vindicated,” but he was right about Flynn. "If I were president-elect of the United States, I wouldn't let General Flynn into the White House, let alone give him a job," Christie said. He also made it known—again—he doesn’t think his old friend is being well-served by staff, or by his own tweeting: “I think the president could be better served than he's been served," Christie told reporters.


“Highly unusual.” That’s what the head of the Office of Government Ethics has to say about how the White House is shrouding in secrecy the list of which former lobbyists got special waivers to serve in the government. It’s a significant escalation of a feud between the OGE and the White House legal team, which has argued that top officials are not legally obligated to comply with longstanding ethics rules. OGE Chairman Walter Shaub hit back at the administration’s attempt to block the release of information about the secret waivers, and said the administration must comply with the order by June 1. It sets up a showdown that could involve pressure from members of Congress concerned about weakening the OGE’s oversight powers, ABC News’ Alexander Mallin reports.


Former CIA Director John Brennan is slated to appear before the House Intel Committee today as part of its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Expect that Washington Post report to come up as DNI Dan Coats and NSA Director Michael Rogers testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

NEED TO READ with ABC’s Adam Kelsey

Trump's first budget calls for deep cuts to Medicaid, other safety net programs. President Trump's first budget proposal to Congress includes $1.7 trillion in mandatory spending cuts over 10 years, including $800 billion from Medicaid and $193 billion from food stamps, in an effort to balance the federal budget. The proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 includes sunny projections for economic growth and tax revenue.

Top Dem: Mike Flynn appeared to have lied to investigators. In a letter today to the committee’s chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, urged the oversight chairman to subpoena the White House for documents that detail its process for vetting Flynn. Cummings said new documents show Flynn lied to investigators who were conducting his security clearance review.

Flynn invokes 5th Amendment, stirring up legal debate. Flynn, through his lawyers Monday, invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to hand over documents subpoenaed by a Senate committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Flynn's personal documents on May 10, after he declined to cooperate with its April 28 request in relation to the panel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

GOP delays decision on Obamacare payments. House Republicans and the Trump administration, seeking to end payments on Obamacare subsidies, have requested a 90-day extension on the cost-sharing reductions, a move decried by some Democrats. In the lawsuit House v. Price (previously known as House v. Burwell), Republicans argue that the Obama administration was not authorized to make the payments, which total $175 billion over 10 years.


@AshleyRParker: NEWS: The White House has settled on four finalists for Trump's outside legal counsel team. W/ @costareports

@FreedomPartners: New analysis examining how major U.S. industries would be impacted by the trillion dollar #BAT consumer tax.

@PressSec: .@POTUS has spoken with U.K. Prime Minister @theresa_may to offer condolences and support on behalf of the US #manchesterattack

@frontlinepbs: The inside story of Steve Bannon's personal crusade to dramatically transform America #frontlinePBS 10/9c @PBS:

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