The Note: Special counsel's actions in Russia probe may cut through Trump tweetstorm

As early as today, the special counsel team could announce an indictment.

ByABC News
October 30, 2017, 5:54 AM

— -- The TAKE with Rick Klein

President Donald Trump urged Republicans to "DO SOMETHING" over the weekend in the wake of the "Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more" during the tenure of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Trump's Twitterstorm came on the eve of possible action out of Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

The independent counsel confronts the toxic and polarized climate he was appointed to cut through. The build-up has included an orchestrated attempt to discredit Mueller, plus a breakdown in congressional cooperation on investigations and even fresh Republican inquiries of Obama/Clinton-era conduct.

But movement out of Mueller marks a new phase of the Russia investigation – with actions, not words or tweets, at the center. The pace and the outcomes will be less predictable than any machinations to date.

Mueller moving piecemeal gives him the advantage of all but daring Trump to interfere in his inquiries; the president could still wind up making an obstruction case against himself. Trump will be tempted, by both friends and foes, to meet action with action.

For now, despite even last week's extraordinary rejections of Trump and Trumpism by two leading Republican senators, the president has a mostly loyal party behind him.

That can vanish in the instant it would take Trump to move to fire Mueller, or start pardoning any of his targets.

The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek

The bruising Virginia gubernatorial race is entering the home stretch.

What started out as a relatively tame contest between two mild-mannered, moderate politicians has become an all out, bare-knuckle brawl.

In the Virginia gubernatorial race, one campaign has tried to link the opponent to white nationalists and the other has accused their opposition of allowing violent gang members to infiltrate the Commonwealth and making it easier for convicted sex offenders to get guns.

The race between Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie is often talked about as the best barometer of the political climate under the Trump presidency, but perhaps it shows how campaigns run in the Trump era.

Race relations, Confederate monuments, illegal immigration, gun rights -- all hot button issues two centrist candidates wouldn't traditionally battle over -- have all dominated the race at one time or another.

But despite the vitriol, both campaigns know that Virginia remains a state where geography is destiny, and political appeal must extend beyond the traditional party bases.

Gillespie will campaign today with one of President Trump's former presidential rivals, Senator Marco Rubio, in Northern Virginia, a sign that he knows he can't win if he gets blown out in the Washington D.C. suburbs.

Gillespie has faced pressure to more deeply embrace Trump and the hard-right elements of the GOP. How far Gillespie decides to go in the final week remains to be seen.

The man across the Potomac remains a major question mark, and still with just eight days left in the race, there are no plans for President Trump to campaign with Gillespie.

The TIP with Arlette Saenz

President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, a senior White House official confirmed. The trip was not announced ahead of time.

On his third trip to Saudi Arabia this year, Kushner, whose White House portfolio includes the Middle East, left the U.S. on Wednesday and returned Saturday. Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, the administration's Middle East envoy, accompanied him in Saudi Arabia. Greenblatt also traveled to Cairo, Amman, Jerusalem and Ramallah.

"The Senior Adviser to the President, the Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy, and the Special Representative for International Negotiations recently returned from Saudi Arabia," a senior White House official said. "The Senior Adviser has also been in frequent contact with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia."

The White House official would not say whom Kushner met with while in Saudi Arabia, but reaffirmed the president's desire to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.


  • Following developments in the Russia investigation: As early as today, the special counsel team investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election could announce an indictment and make an arrest.
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigating Russia's alleged meddling, will speak in Detroit today on a very timely summit about cybersecurity.
  • Interview: White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly will speak to Fox News' Laura Ingraham tonight.
  • President Bill Clinton speaks tonight on the nation's opioid epidemic at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks tonight at the U.S. Naval Academy -- his alma mater.
  • The president meets with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Later, he will meet with Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

    "I can't comment on that at all." --Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the House Intelligence Committee's ranking member, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" when asked whether Robert Mueller is investigating the president.


  • Trump again calls Russia probe 'witch hunt' as possible 1st indictment looms. The president sent a series of tweets Sunday morning just as special counsel Robert Mueller's team sought its first charges in the probe, with a possible announcement of an indictment to come as soon as today. (Arlette Saenz)
  • Russia investigation seeks first charges, indictment announcement may come as soon as Monday, sources say. Attorneys from Mueller's office were at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., on Friday and ABC News confirmed a filing was made. It's unclear at this point how significant this potential action might be. (Pierre Thomas, Matthew Mosk and John Santucci)
  • Puerto Rico utility authority cancels controversial Whitefish power deal after governor's criticisms. The Puerto Rico Energy Authority cancelled its controversial $300 million contract with a small Montana company to rebuild the island's electrical grid. (M.L. Nestel)
  • Two Navy SEALs under investigation for death of Green Beret in Mali. On June 4, Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar was found dead in his room in embassy housing in Bamako, Mali. (Luis Martinez)
  • The White House gets a spooky Halloween makeover. The White House would currently be better described as "The Haunted House." (David Caplan)
  • Hillary Clinton on Comey letter anniversary: 'Oh is that today?' She may have lost the 2016 presidential election, but she hasn't lost her sense of humor. (David Caplan)
  • Politico checks in on John Boehner: "The former House speaker feels liberated -- but he's also seething about what happened to his party."
  • The New York Times reports that sexual misconduct in California's Capitol is difficult to escape. In Sacramento, the legislative seat of the country's most populous state, women describe a culture of rampant sexual harassment and a system that does not take their complaints seriously.
  • 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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