The Note: Shutdown blame game misses the broader goal

Does the dealmaker-in-chief want to make a deal?

January 18, 2018, 6:21 AM

— -- The TAKE with Rick Klein

“The blame, the fault, will all lie in one place,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said yesterday, on the possibility of a government shutdown.

Sanders was pointing the finger at Democrats, of course. But it’s not outlandish to say that place would instead be the White House where a president whose party controls Congress has contradicted himself enough to leave negotiations around immigration and spending constantly revving up but going nowhere.

Yet, even that piece of the blame game misses the broader point.

There either will or will not be a shutdown. In either event, the week will expire with President Donald Trump’s leadership meandering to the point that even his allies are practically begging him to state clearly what he actually wants.

“As soon as he figures out what he is for,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, “then I will be convinced we're not just spinning our wheels but actually dealing with a bill that can become law.”

The question has become bipartisan: Does the dealmaker-in-chief want to make a deal?

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Whatever Steve Bannon said in front of the House Intelligence Committee, it must have raised questions. In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the group of lawmakers was decisive when they resoundingly agreed to subpoena the former White House top operative immediately following his first interview with committee members and staff.

The former chief strategist invoked "executive privilege" as his reason for not answering a number of questions about his time working for the presidential transition and at the White House. He may be back up before the committee right away to try and resolve questions about his testimony and executive privilege claims.

The back and forth reinforces the fact that at some point the White House will have to decide whether it's cooperating with the investigation or admitting it's not.

While Bannon may be a disgruntled former employee, trying, perhaps, to impress his old boss and play tough with investigators, his decision to make this legal argument and essentially bait a subpoena matched what other members of Trump's close orbit have done too. Cabinet members have recently offered similar reasons for their own refusals to answers lawmakers' questions.

And the White House is closely attuned to Bannon's testimony and appearance.

While executive privilege may have a long history in the county, as Sarah Sanders reiterated from the podium, this administration seems to be asserting it in new ways.

The TIP with MaryAlice Parks

Democrats in the Congressional Black Caucus and on the House Judiciary Committee plan to introduce a resolution today to censure President Donald Trump over his allegedly calling African nations “s---hole countries” during a bipartisan meeting in the Oval Office the last week.

“This censure resolution is important because America is a beacon of hope. We have to show the world that this president does not represent the real feelings of most of the American people,” CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., wrote in a joint statement.

“American immigration policy cannot and should not be guided in any way, shape or form by racism,” the statement said.

If passed by the House, this censure resolution would indicate a rare, official and public condemnation from Congress against the commander-in-chief. Over the summer, three members of Congress introduced a separate censure resolution over comments President Trump made regarding the white supremacy march in Charlottesville, Virginia.


  • The president starts his day at the Pentagon. According to a U.S. official, Trump will be briefed on the impact a government shutdown — or another short-term spending bill — would have on the military.
  • Vice President Mike Pence will also visit the Pentagon in the afternoon and get similar briefings.
  • Later, the president will head to the Pittsburgh area to give a speech on tax cuts and the economy — putting him near the site of the March special election for the Pennsylvania 18 House seat.
  • After sending the continuing resolution (CR) to the floor Wednesday night, the House is expected to take up a vote today to avoid a government shutdown — but it's still not clear if Republican leaders have enough support to pass it.
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will be speaking about military readiness today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
  • Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Judiciary Committee will introduce a resolution to censure the president for the derogatory remark he reportedly made at the White House last week.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets today with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi at the State Department.

    “It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies.” — Sen. Jeff Flake, R- Ariz., on the Senate floor. Flake, long an outspoken critic of the president, planned his speech to coincide with the date President Trump’s "Fake News Awards" were announced.


    Kelly: Trump campaign promises on border wall have 'evolved.' White House Chief of Staff John Kelly went to Capitol Hill Wednesday to meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on immigration-- and according to lawmakers and sources both in the room and briefed on the meeting — told the group that President Donald Trump's campaign promises on immigration were not fully informed and that the U.S. would not construct a wall on the border with Mexico "from sea to shining sea." (Benjamin Siegel)

    Steve Bannon has reached an agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to come in for an interview: Sources. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has reached an agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to come in for an interview with the special counsel’s team office after he was subpoenaed by Mueller to appear before a grand jury, according to sources familiar with the matter. (Benjamin Siegel, Alexander Mallin, Tara Palmeri and Pierre Thomas)

    Democratic gains in state legislatures fuel Republican 2018 anxieties. Democrats are celebrating another state legislative victory — this time in Wisconsin. Since Trump became president, Republicans have flipped just four state legislative districts from Democratic to Republican control. (John Verhovek)

    How Trump's relationships with Graham, Corker have evolved during first year of presidency. President Donald Trump had no shortage of personal dramas during his first year in office, but he began 2018 with two of the most unlikely friends: his former Capitol Hill rivals and sometimes punching bags, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn. (Ali Rogin)

    Sen. Jeff Flake condemns Trump's media attacks, compares rhetoric to Stalin. In the remarks from the Senate floor, Flake, R-Ariz., pointed to the Soviet Union's 30-year dictator as seeming inspiration for Trump's attacks against the press. (Adam Kelsey and Mariam Khan)

    Under Trump, US leadership approval drops to new lows abroad: Poll. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, approval of United States leadership declined around the globe between 2016 and 2017, according to a survey released Thursday. The global poll from Gallup found that on average only 30 percent of the world approves of U.S. leadership during President Donald Trump's first year in office, down from 48 percent in the last year of President Barack Obama's administration in 2016. (Meridith McGraw)

    Trump administration to bar Haitians from seasonal work visas. The Trump administration is moving to ban Haitian immigrants from applying for seasonal and farm work visas in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday night, just days after the president reportedly used a vulgar slur to describe the country last week. (Karma Allen)

    Roberts County: A year in the most pro-Trump town in America. Miami is a town in the Texas panhandle where everyone knows everyone at the grocery store and servers at the local diner know who likes what kind of pie with their chicken fried steak. (Meghan Keneally, Amna Nawaz, Jessica Hopper and Jason Kurtis)

    ANALYSIS: 6 questions about President Donald Trump's health answered. What medical issues does the president have? How was the president’s mental status assessed? (Dr. Sarang Koushik)

    Eric Trump: 'My father sees one color, green.' "My father sees one color, green," Trump said in an interview Wednesday on 'Fox and Friends.' "That is all he cares about, he cares about the economy. He does not see race." (Alexander Mallin)

    Oprah's not alone: 16 potential Democratic 2020 candidates ask for advice. Democratic operative Jim Messina, who headed up former President Obama’s successful 2012 re-election campaign, says he has met with representatives of 16 potential Democratic candidates who want to run against President Donald Trump. (Avery Miller and Kandis Mascall)

    EPA targets East Chicago, other contaminated Superfund sites for development. Thirty-one of the country’s most contaminated sites are likely to be available for building new housing, business or other development soon after they are cleaned up, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday, a step that’s part of Administrator Scott Pruitt's push to accelerate the cleanup and make the land available for community use. (Stephanie Ebbs)

    A Reuters interview with the president is making waves on international policy. Among other things, Trump said North Korea is getting “closer every day” to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States.

    Adam Rippon, a U.S. men’s figure skating champion and an openly gay U.S. winter Olympian, is taking a stand against the choice of Vice President Mike Pence as leader of the 2018 U.S. Olympic delegation in South Korea. “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon said in an interview with USA TODAY. “I’m not buying it.”

    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.

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