The Note: Who Will Be the Next SCOTUS Nominee?

ByABC News
January 31, 2017, 9:04 AM

— -- Trump’s First 100 Days with ABC’s RICK KLEIN and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE

Day No. 12

THE BIG STORY: Whatever the atmosphere now, ratchet it up about 11 more partisan notches at 8 pm ET on Tuesday. That’s when President Trump will announce his Supreme Court nominee. Never has a nominee inherited this kind of political environment, or this kind of freshly challenging issue set. He (and it’s probably a he) will be grilled on executive powers and the specific order that led to the Monday night firing of the acting attorney general. The pressure will be enormous on Democrats to do everything they can – up to and including filibustering – to block a nominee who doesn’t answer those kinds of questions, which no nominee is likely to do. And a filibuster would bring the nuclear option to the Senate’s consideration of nominees for the high court – just another crisis to spend some time with this young administration.

THE SLEEPER STORY: Democrats are awake now. President Obama is off the bench. Members of Congress are chanting with the protestors. The party has found its cause --blocking the Trump agenda. Just a week ago, talk in Washington was about how Chuck Schumer could be a closer partner to the president than Mitch McConnell. Now, the president is making fun of Schumer’s tears when he appeared alongside people impacted by the travel ban. Add that to the late-night firing of an acting attorney general over an entirely political disagreement and you have a base plus elected officials who are losing any incentive to work with the new president. Democrats can thank the president for showing them the strategy that now seems inevitable for the next four years: stand strong, and stand in his way.

THE SHINY STORY: For the first time, President Trump got to say, “you’re fired.” The statement dismissing Sally Yates as acting attorney general is a doozy, accusing her of having “betrayed the Department of Justice” and being “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.” Attributed to simply “the White House,” the statement is fodder for Trump interpreters to read the man and his men. Just as important as the tone of the firing is the sequence of events that led to it, of course. This moment should be remembered for the rise of Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, the duo behind the ideology and language-crafting of the executive order that rocked the world.

TLDR: This evening at 8pm, Donald Trump will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court. It will come just about 24 hours after his firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Yates refused to defend the president's controversial executive order regarding immigration because she said she is not convinced it is "lawful."

PHOTO OF THE DAY: On March 24, 2015 after Sally Yates was nominated for Deputy Attorney General she had this interesting exchange with Sen. Jeff Sessions, now Trump's AG nominee. Sessions asked Yates: "Do you think the Attorney General has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that's improper?" Her answer: "Senator, I believe that the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General has an obligation to follow the law and the constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the president." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)


--TRUMP SET TO ANNOUNCE HIS SUPREME COURT PICK TONIGHT: President Trump this week said he would announce his nominee for U.S. Supreme Court justice Tuesday night, replacing the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia. The court has had only eight justices since Scalia's unexpected death last February. Judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, of the 10th Circuit, and 3rd Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman, 51, top Trump’s short list of potential Supreme Court nominees, according to officials with knowledge of the decision. The decision is expected to be announced tonight at 8 p.m. ET from the White House, said Trump. ABC’s GENEVA SANDS and AUDREY TAYLOR have more on the two front-runners.

--TRUMP WILL KEEP INTACT OBAMA-ERA ORDER PROTECTING LGBTQ WORKERS: The White House announced Tuesday that President Trump will leave intact a 2014 Obama-era order protecting LGBTQ employees who work for federal contractors from workplace discrimination, ABC’s MICHAEL EDISON HAYDEN and KATHERINE FAULDERS report. "President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community," the statement said. "The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression."

--TRUMP FIRES ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL SALLY YATES FOR REFUSING TO DEFEND IMMIGRATION ORDER: The acting U.S. Attorney General, Sally Yates, was fired Monday night hours after she refused to defend President Trump's executive order regarding immigration because she is not convinced it is "lawful," according to a letter. In a statement, the White House said Yates "betrayed the Department of Justice" and was "weak on borders" and said she was being replaced by Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. ABC’s TOM LIDDY, GENEVA SANDS and MIKE LEVINE has more.

--ANALYSIS: DONALD TRUMP FORCES DEFINING MOMENT FOR HIS PRESIDENCY – AND THE NATION: It took only a week in office for President Trump to deliver the kind of message that can’t be ignored. His executive order imposing a broad travel ban impacting those coming from seven nations tells the world that the United States has a new posture on the world stage. In appearing to make good on the bold action he promised, Trump is signaling a new era to go with the new brand of leadership he brought to the office. And it took only hours after that order was issued for the nation to become engulfed in a defining debate about national security, compassion and what it means to be American. The chaotic aftermath of the president’s move could have consequences for the rest of Trump’s tenure -- and beyond, ABC’s RICK KLEIN writes.

--TRUMP TWEETS AGAIN ABOUT “FAKE TEARS SCHUMER”: Trump clearly has landed on a new nickname for the Democratic Leader in the Senate, taking to Twitter this morning to lambaste the audio and visual features at Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s rally in front of the Supreme Court last night, ABC’s ALI ROGIN and JORDYN PHELPS write. “Nancy Pelosi and Fake Tears Chuck Schumer held a rally at the steps of The Supreme Court and mic did not work (a mess)-just like Dem party!” Trump tweeted. Schumer told ABC’s MARY BRUCE yesterday that he would not “dignify” Trump’s digs, about his crying at a press conference at JFK Airport over the weekend, with a response.

--HAPPENING ON THE HILL: Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly is expected to visit Capitol Hill today to brief the bipartisan leaders of the House and the Senate, as well as the top members on the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees, on the president’s immigration E.O, ABC’s ALI ROGIN and JORDYN PHELPS notes. The Senate will vote on the floor today to confirm Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (she’s expected to sail through) and the relevant committees will hold their votes to report out the nominations of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, HHS Secretary Tom Price and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Republicans on Capitol Hill will mostly likely face questions today on what they think about Trump canning acting AG Sally Yates over her refusal to enforce the immigration executive order, including when House Speaker Paul Ryan holds a press conference at 10 AM today.


WHITE HOUSE TELLS DISSENTING DIPLOMATS 'GET WITH THE PROGRAM' OR 'GO.’ White House spokesman Sean Spicer dismissed concerns being raised by career diplomats Monday over President Donald Trump's new executive order restricting immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries, telling them to "either get with the program, or they can go." ABC News first reported Monday morning that dozens of American foreign service officers and other diplomats around the world were preparing to file a formal objection to the executive order. ABC’s MIKE LEVINE has more:

PRESIDENT TRUMP ORDERS NEW LIMITS ON REGULATIONS. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday morning that he said will “dramatically reduce federal regulations” on businesses, notes ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS. “We’ll be reducing [regulations] big league and their damaging effects on our small businesses, our economy and our entrepreneurial spirit,” Trump said during a meeting with small business leaders. “The American dream is back, and we’re going to create an environment for small business like we haven’t had in many, many decades.”

OBAMA SAYS HE 'FUNDAMENTALLY DISAGREES' WITH DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RELIGION. Former President Barack Obama “is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” but he “fundamentally disagrees” with discrimination based on faith or religion, his spokesman Kevin Lewis said Monday. President Trump signed an executive order on Friday calling for a suspension of immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries with ties to terror, including the suspension of the United States’ acceptance of Syrian refugees. ABC’s MERIDITH MCGRAW has more:

WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS HOLOCAUST STATEMENT THAT DOESN'T MENTION JEWS. White House press secretary Sean Spicer doubled down on a White House statement issued Friday on Holocaust Remembrance Day that has sparked backlash from some for not directly mentioning “Jews” or “anti-Semitism,” reports ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS. “The statement was written with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendants of Holocaust survivors,” Spicer said Monday. “To suggest that remembering the Holocaust and acknowledging all of the people, Jewish, gypsies, priests, disabled, gays and lesbians. It is pathetic that people are picking on a statement.”

NO, FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA DIDN'T BUILD A STATUE OF HIMSELF FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. An article making the rounds on Facebook falsely says that a bronze statue of former President Barack Obama will soon be in the entryway of the White House. But you won't be seeing it any time soon -- or any time at all. The story is fake. This story, headlined "WOW: Obama Orders Life-Sized Bronze Statute of Himself To Be Permanently Installed in White House," asserts that in the final hours of his presidency, Obama ordered the $200,000 life-sized statue of himself, notes ABC’s RYAN STRUYK.

POLICE USE PEPPER SPRAY ON ANTI-TRUMP PROTESTERS IN OHIO. Police in Ohio used pepper spray to disperse a crowd of unruly protesters rallying against President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration Monday night. Video posted on Twitter at around midnight on Tuesday showed police officers in gas masks spraying the crowd that gathered near the Ohio Statehouse brandishing anti-Trump signs and chanting. ABC’s KARMA ALLEN has more.

UNDERSTANDING KEY IMMIGRATION TERMS IN LIGHT OF TRUMP'S EXECUTIVE ORDER. President Trump’s executive action last week restricting admission to the United States for some immigrants raised a number of questions about the legal status of travelers to the country. Many of the classifications related to travel and immigration status are not interchangeable and define particular rights and allowances under law. ABC’s ADAM KELSEY notes some terms to know, based on information from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

ANALYSIS: TRUMP'S ORDER HEIGHTENS RISK OF EXTREMIST ATTACKS IN THE US, COUNTERTERROR EXPERT SAYS. President Trump said his executive order restricting entry into the U.S. of people from seven Muslim-dominated countries is to keep Americans safer, but one former Homeland Security official who is an ABC News contributor said the move could instead do the opposite by inspiring violent extremist attacks in the U.S., writes ABC’s MICHAEL EDISON HAYDEN.


@AP: Amazon's Jeff Bezos says company prepared to back lawsuit opposing President Trump's immigration, refugee order.

@MLevineReports: Trump replaces ICE acting director, puts veteran Tom Homan in charge. Homan was/is planning to retire; ICE even held goodbye for him last wk

@jeneps: Sessions to Yates in 2015: "Do you think the AG has the responsibility to say no to the pres if he asks for sthing improper?" Yes, she said

@CNNPolitics: Sen. Angus King: I'm going to vote to confirm Rex Tillerson, but I'm going to vote against confirming Jeff Sessions

@edatpost: To review: Acting AG fired. House GOP staffers worked with transition w/o bosses knowing. And a bobcat is still on the loose in Washington.